By Eloise Evans on 26/10/2016

All sewage and drainage companies come across blocked drains as a daily occurrence, and a big problem is fatbergs. Fatbergs are massive build-ups in sewage systems of items that are unable to be broken down by the water and gather together in sewage systems.

These fatbergs are generally made up of congealed fat, sanitary items and wet wipes and other items that get stuck together and form large lumps in the drainpipes. These are becoming a massive strain on our sewage and drainage systems. Nick Sumption from Thames Water, said: “In some cases [they] lead to sewage backing up into people homes and gardens.”

Welsh Water, a not-for-profit organisation, have said that they spend £7m a year unblocking sewers, and Thames Water spends £12m. Sewer maintenance operator Steve Tyler said: “It’s every day, it’s massive the amount of wet wipes going down the drains. People just don’t understand – they think it’s not causing a problem when it really is.”

Welsh Water is called out to clear 2,000 blockages every month, and over half of these are due to “the wrong things being in the sewer,” Director of Environment, Tony Harrington, commented.

He added: “The main issue, in terms of blockages, is that customers continue to flush all sorts of items into the system which don’t belong there. We know part of the problem is when you buy products in a supermarket – like wet wipes – not that many of the products are appropriately labelled.”

Even ‘flushable’ wipes are not good for our drains. Although they may say flushable, they actually take a lot longer to disintegrate in water than regular toilet paper, and this is bad news for our sewers. If they don’t disintegrate quickly enough, they may cause a blockage before they have a chance to break down. Thames Water even says that they still won’t break up and should be thrown away with regular waste. The BBC have created a video to show how un-flushable these ‘flushable’ wipes really are.  

The company are urging people who like wet wipes to use a new product which does the same job but is less damaging to our sewers. New moistening foam can be applied to regular toilet paper and will give the same result as a wet wipe.

As Drain Doctor deals with blocked drains every day, this is definitely something that we support. So many of our routine call-outs could have been prevented if things like wet wipes, sanitary items and fat were not put down the drain in the first place. Your blocked toilet could just be the tip of the fatberg, so never flush un-flushables and keep your plumbing clear!