You’ve seen the news reports and posts on social media (maybe even experienced it firsthand) about an increase in sewer clogs since the toilet paper shortage caused by COVID-19 concerns. The assumption is people are using alternative materials to toilet paper such as baby wipes, wet wipes, paper towels, and even shredded clothing. Unfortunately, these materials do not disintegrate in the sewer system like toilet paper. As a result they collect on sewer pumps, causing them to clog and mix with fats, oils, grease and other sewage in the pipes to form fatbergs. While people should only flush the 3Ps — pee, poop and (toilet) paper — the reality is all sorts of material — wipes, cotton swabs, hair, the occasional children’s toy — gets flushed down the toilet. While these materials may not cause immediate consequences at the toilet, they can have serious ramifications in the sewer system. These materials clog sewer pumps and pipes, leading to very unpleasant sewage overflows.
Without a change in human behavior, what can be done to prevent these sewage clogs? One solution is to install a dual-shafted sewage grinder in the sewer line. Dual-shafted sewage grinders have two rows of sharp cutters that rotate slowly and with high torque. The two shafts of the shredder rotate at different speeds. The two intermeshing cutters act like a pair of extremely powerful scissors, effectively cutting up any solids into smaller pieces that can then typically flow smoothly through the sewer line without clogging equipment.
Unfortunately, sometimes shredding these solid materials is not enough. If the material is shredded into long strips, they may reweave with hair and FOG (fats, oils and grease) later in the sewer line, causing clogs at that time. JWC Environmental’s family of Muffin Monster and HYDRO sewage grinders feature Wipes Ready technologies that are specially designed to shred material in a confetti-cut, effectively preventing material from reweaving downstream when mixed with FOG and hair, saving time and money.
When a nursing home, hospital, commercial building or other facility experiences a sewage back-up or receives a notice from the local sewage agency to cease discharging inappropriate debris into the municipal sewer system, a dual-shafted sewage grinder might be the best solution. Wipes, diapers, rags and other solids should be put in the trash, not flushed down the toilet. Unfortunately, people use toilets as an all-purpose trash can. When this happens, a dual-shafted grinder will shred these solids into small pieces to help prevent downstream issues.
The shortage of toilet paper is leading people to use alternative materials that should not be flushed down the toilet. The best practice to keep our sewage systems functioning properly is to flush only the 3Ps. But if your facility experiences a sewage back-up or receives a sewage violation notice, a sewage grinder from JWC may be the next best solution. We encourage everyone to follow best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic — practice good hygiene, maintain social distancing, stay home if you feel unwell, and seek appropriate medical help. And, make our wastewater treatment crews’ jobs easier by flushing only the 3Ps so they do not need to unclog pumps and clean out fatbergs that are preventable with appropriate flushing practices.