My family recently moved to a new-to-us home (fyi my “old” home sold in 2 days). The new home is on a septic tank system, whereas the old one was tied in to the sewer system of the City of Montgomery. This got me to thinking about a claim my father has long made, that is, those “flushable” wipes they sell these days may be flushable, but they are bad for septic systems as they do not properly disintegrate like toilet paper does.
I did some research, then an experiment. The results made me immediately think about homeowners on Lake Martin, as I would hazard a guess that 99% of waterfront homes on Lake Martin are on some sort of septic system.
THE EXPERIMENT: Do “flushable” wipes degrade like toilet paper?
Modus: Following the suggestion from this site, I took 3 separate Tupperware boxes, filled them halfway with water. In one I placed a ball of our walmart brand toilet paper (as a control to disintegration). In another I put 1 walmart brand flushable wipe. In the last I put 1/2 a square of our walmart brand paper towel (as a control to non-disintegration). I put the tops on, and shook all of them vigorously.
Results: The TP dissolved immediately. The wipe did not, nor did the paper towel. I even left them overnight in their containers, hoping time would help. Alas, the next morning, it was the same story. The wipe was as strong as the proverbial new rope. Check the pics, the wipe is to the left, paper towel on right:
here is another, hanging the paper towel thing. Again, the wipe is on the left.
Application: I guess this means that I cannot in good conscience flush these wipes into my septic system. If they don’t dissolve, that means they will eventually clog up my septic tank, causing an overflow of poo into my yard, and an expensive visit from the septic guy. But I really like these wipes. Their fresh, sanitary use has taken us all to a new hygienic level. As Jerry Seinfeld is to Coach Class Airfare, I can’t go back. I won’t. So what to do?
Guerrilla Septic Tank Tactics
Here are some ways to continue using the wipes without endangering your system. Be warned, these are for hardcore hackers only.
1. Go at work – This is the optimal situation. You can keep your wipes at your desk, cubicle, or in your lunch pail or purse. Whatever. Once you learn to disregard the severe social stigma of being one of “those people” that goes at work, you are home free. They are probably on a sewer system there anyway. If not, what better way to stick it to “the man,” right?
2. Go at your neighbors’ – Notice I said “your system” above. Perfectly OK to affect the other guy’s yard as long as they are downhill from you. We live in a society where it’s all about ME anyway. This is just a logical extension of that admired ME FIRST attitude. Carry your wipes hidden in your pocket and slip in unnoticed when they’re cutting the grass or doing something altruistic.
3. Go at the new guy’s home – Corollary to #2 above. When the new family moves in to the neighborhood, drop by in the guise of the welcome wagon and go for it. They don’t know you yet so they are blind to your true motive. Offer the housewarming gift in one hand, in the other you are palming your wipes. In the frenzy of opening the gift, they won’t notice if you slip off for a minute.
4. Go on the way home from work – establish a route that goes by some sewer friendly friends.
5. Go on the way to Lake Martin – again, do your research and pick your spots. Encourage all family members to be proactive so that there is no need to go during your stay. If you are diligent in 1 – 4 above, you can avoid stressing your lake home’s system.
6. If you gotta go at the lake – see 2 and 3 above. Just apply it to your Lake Martin neighbors.
I guess if you are not a true guerrillero or a hacker, and can’t do the above, you can go at home, and just pay the $150 +/- to have your system pumped every couple of years, or however often your septic professional recommends. Because if you are using these wipes, chances are good that you are heading towards a blockage.