Don't risk a costly pipes blockage - only flush toilet paper

Flushing anything other than toilet paper down your toilets is risking a costly and unpleasant pipes blockage.

Water New Zealand Technical Manager Noel Roberts says it’s concerning that some people may consider flushing alternatives to toilet paper, particularly if their local store is temporarily short of stock due to panic buying.

“While it’s clear there will not be a shortage of toilet paper in this country, panic buying in the past week due to the coronavirus scare has meant that some people may consider other options such as tissues, wipes or paper towels.

“It’s timely to remind people that only the three p’s should be flushed down pipes – pee, poo and paper – and that means toilet paper, and nothing else.”

He says tissues, wipes and paper towels all contain plastic in their weave to make them stronger but this means they do not break down in pipes in the way toilet paper is designed to.

“This can be costly for individual householders as it may mean a call to the plumber.

But he says blocked pipes can also result in raw sewage overflowing into the environment.

“The flushing of wet wipes and other non-flushable products has been a significant problem for councils and wastewater treatment operators in recent years.

“It’s conservatively estimated to be costing wastewater utilities in New Zealand at least $16-million a year just in unblocking pipes caused by the flushing of wipes.”