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Just what is the biggest cause of sewer blockages?

8th Aug 2018

Category: Blocked Drains

Across the UK, there are around 300,000 sewer blockages caused each year! 

But what is the biggest cause of these blockages? The answer is wet wipes, or baby wipes as they are also called.

Every year, around 93% of all sewer blockages are caused by wet wipes and baby wipes being flushed down the toilets of domestic and commercial properties across the UK. These staggering figures were released earlier this year as part of a study by Water UK, who are the representatives of all major drainage and water companies operating throughout the British Isles.

The aforementioned report also highlights the huge costs associated with the incorrect disposal of baby wipes and wet wipes, which amounts to around £100 million each year.

Put simply, a lot of the sewer blockages that this money goes towards could all be prevented with some sensible and simple disposal techniques, like homeowners throwing their wipes into the bin rather than the toilet.

However, the blame can’t just be laid at the door of the homeowner. It’s worth bearing in mind that there has perhaps been a lack of information delivered to the general public in regards to the dangers of flushing wet wipes down the toilet rather than putting them in a bin. This is exactly why Water UK recommends a three pronged strategy that tackles the problem from three separate angles; water companies, manufacturers and the general public.

While there are undoubtedly many people that know full well they shouldn’t be flushing the wet wipes down the toilet but continue to do so anyway, there are many others that simply have no idea of the problems they can cause or that they are not supposed to. This then leads to them having to enlist professional drain unblocking companies such as ourselves once their actions have caused problems with their home plumbing. 

This is why it’s imperative that water companies provide effective education to residents and commercial business owners by establishing an informative campaign that directly gets the message across to everyone across the UK. 

It’s not just down to the water companies though; part of the problem also lies with sometimes inaccurate labelling on wet wipe packets. The majority of users would be far less inclined to throw their wet wipes down the toilet if they knew that the wipes contained plastic. However, the majority of wet wipes available to buy do not always list plastic as an ingredient on the packaging. 

Aside from the dangers that sewage blockages can pose to the general public, there is also the environmental risk to consider. Wet wipes thrown down the toilet can also create problems for the oceans and their related marine ecosystems, as plastic pollution campaign group ‘City to Sea’ spokesperson Natalie Fee explains;

“Most people still don’t know that baby wipes can contain plastic and they would be a lot less likely to flush them down the toilet if it was listed as an ingredient on the pack.”

Through informative and effective educational campaigns, correct labelling on packaging and a more knowledgeable and environmentally conscious general public, it’s possible to quite dramatically reduce the amount of sewer blockages here in the UK each year.

Of course, wet wipes aren’t the only cause of blocked drains, so if you’ve found issues with your drainage system, make sure you have them looked at by experienced professionals. At JLH Drains, we specialise in fast and effective blocked drains repairs and CCTV drain surveys, so contact us today for your free survey and no obligation quotation at your convenience. 

Category: Blocked Drains