Abilene’s Drain Problem
When fats, oils, and grease are disposed down drains and into the City of Abilene's sewer system, they coat the inside of pipes and eventually cause clogs, backups, or overflow.
It's also important to know that so-called 'flushable' wipes, are in fact not flushable, and cause clogs to build exponentially faster as the hardened grease also adheres to the non-decomposed wipe. The number of overflows happening in Abilene because of this kind of backup has been on the rise, causing property damage, foul odors, and road closures.
Clogged Pipes Cause Overflows
Over time, grease poured down drains into the sewer system builds up to a point wastewater cannot pass through. When grease hardens in the pipes, it creates these almost cement-like logs.
A sanitary sewer overflow occurs whenever a sewer pipe gets clogged and sewage backs up through the path of least resistance. That could be outside from a manhole or it could burst through a weak spot in the pipe. It could also be inside through a bathtub, sink, dishwasher, etc. What most people don't realize is that the sewer system doesn't just carry away waste from the toilet, it carries away anything that goes down any drain in our homes and businesses.
Sinks, floor drains, washing machines, dishwashers, showers - they all drain to the sanitary sewer. So if the sewer gets clogged, sewage could back up through any of these sources and create a huge (and smelly!) mess.
To prevent costly plumbing problems in your own home, don't pour oil or grease down the drain or garbage disposal. If you do, there's a risk of sewer backups that could damage your possessions or cause your water to be shut off while repairs are made. Instead, put every drop of kitchen grease where it belongs: in the trash.
Flushable Wipes Aren't
Despite their claim, they do not break down. Instead, they provide another surface for grease to adhere to forming larger clogs faster.
More and more, flushable wipes are becoming a staple in bathrooms - especially among seniors and families with young. New products like Dude Wipes are even trying to make flushable wipes mainstream with men. What many wipe users don't realize is that flushing such a small product can have enormous consequences.
Although these wipes are designed to be biodegradable and break down when flushed, unfortunately that doesn't happen fast enough. Many local residents have learned the hard way that wipes can clog their home's toilets and plumbing. If they do exit your home's plumbing and enter the city's underground sewer system, they mix with household grease, creating large, immovable clogs that can stop the flow of waste water, clog up pipes, and cause sewers to back up into homes and overflow through manholes into the streets.
Abilene has seen its share of incidents involving flushable wipes. One produced 200 gallons of sewage that spewed out through a manhole. Another produced 800 gallons that again exited out a manhole and streamed down an alley, turned and went down two others. Although looking like a water leak, it came with a rank odor that one would expect from sewage. A third incident involved a private cleanout at a place of business. The clog was found in their service line that connects their building to the City sewer line. As a result, the business was responsible for the cleanout at a significant expense.
To prevent these problems and Keep Abilene Flowing, throw wipes in the trash and refrain from disposing them down the toilet. Only flush toilet paper down the toilet. Keep a small trashcan in the bathroom for everything else.
If the clog is in plumbing on your property, it is your responsibility to clean and repair, which can cost hundreds of dollars. When clogs are within the Abilene sewer system, each can cost the City thousands of dollars to repair.
Sewage overflows inside homes and businesses are not pleasant experiences. The sewer system doesn’t just carry away waste from the toilet, it carries away everything disposed down the drain whether it be sinks, floor drains, washing machines, or dishwashers. Clogs can back up and overflow through any of these sources causing a huge mess and rancid odor.
When repairs are made, the water is often turned off. If there is a clog in a multi-family unit, it is common that the water to the entire building would be turned off. If an overflow occurs from a manhole into the streets, you can expect road closures and detours. Common play and parking areas such as cul-de-sacs, can be blocked off while repairs and clean up take place.
Taking good care of your drains and plumbing can prevent costly, inconvenient plumbing problems. But when it comes to everyday drain maintenance, conventional wisdom isn’t always wise. This page notes a few common misconceptions about what can and can’t go down the drain.
Washing grease down with soap and hot water is enough to prevent a clog.
While rinsing with soap and hot water may make your drain shine, it doesn’t eliminate grease from your plumbing system. Just as cholesterol clogs human arteries slowly over time, leading to a heart attack, any grease you’re washing down the drain doesn’t simply disappear – no matter how much soap you chase it with. Eventually, it cools down and the grease separates from the soap and water, coating the inside of your pipes as it hardens. Over time, that coating grows thicker and thicker, until one day no water can pass through. Then, it backs up into your home, or, if the clog is further down the line, into your neighbor’s house.
Garbage disposals chop up greasy foods into such small pieces, they won't cause any problems.
The smaller the pieces, the likelier a clog. Think of it this way: If you’ve got a wide pipe full of golf balls, you can still run water through between them. But pack that pipe with sand, and you’ve got yourself a clogged pipe. When you chop greasy food into small pieces with a garbage disposal, the food will decompose more quickly, releasing grease faster to coat the inside of your pipes. This is why it’s best to throw fatty foods into the trash can, pour grease into a can or the trash – never down the drain – and wipe greasy dishes with a paper towel before washing them in the sink or dishwasher.
Wipes that say they are disposable or flushable can be used as an alternative to toilet paper and disposed of down the drain.
Although these wipes are designed to be biodegradable and break down when flushed, unfortunately that doesn’t happen fast enough. Many local residents have learned the hard way that they can clog their home’s toilets and plumbing. If they do exit your home’s plumbing and enter the city’s underground sewer system, they mix with household grease, creating large, immoveable clogs that can stop the flow of waste water, clog up pipes, and cause sewers to back up into homes and overflow through manholes into the streets.