For weeks since the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic, stores across the city have been experiencing a shortage of toilet paper, and that may have prompted people to get creative.
The City of Winnipeg says they’ve noticed more disposable wipes plugging pumps at the sewage treatment plants.
They say even the wipes that say flushable can cause blockages and overwhelm the sewer system.
Daniel Boissonneault, owner of AFM Plumbing and Heating in Winnipeg, says he’s regularly receiving calls about clogged pipes because of people flushing paper products they shouldn’t.
“It’s kind of always been an issue, it’s just being magnified right now that everyone’s stuck at home and there’s this big crisis over toilet paper. Now Lysol wipes, baby wipes, shop towels, things like that are being used to wipe bottoms,” he said.
“It’s not a garburator. It’s a toilet.”
Boissonneault said people may think paper towels and disposable wipes are similar to toilet paper but they can cause some major issues in plumbing.
“It’s a stronger fiber, it doesn’t break down as much,” he said adding pipes all over the city have issues of tree roots slipping through the pipe. The fibres from paper towels and wipes can get caught up in the roots causing a clog.
“It speeds up the clogging process. Where you could’ve gotten away with six months or a year with just the waste water filtering through the roots, now you have big problems like sewage in your basement.”
Boissonneault said it can be on average about $200 – $250 to unclog a pipe.
He says he does have an alternative for people who are struggling to find toilet paper.
“Bidets — they’re not common in North America, but anyone can ad-lib a bidet,” he said. “Your bathtub can easily become a bidet. You take your tub shower if you have a hand-held, you use that, you run your water and jump in the tub and wash your business.”