Litchfield County real estate information, local events and more.

head_left_image

The $650 unflushable flush

I'm going to tell you one of the morals to my story first. If you didn't already eat it, don't fOnly flush what you eatlush it down the toilet!

I have clients who rent their home out for the winter months. They only use it for the summer, it works out perfectly for them. Well, maybe not perfectly. Every year they learn something more about renting their house out, and believe me, they are not amateur landlords!

This year we learned that we needed to add an addendum to the lease regarding the septic system. I admit this is a first for me, but I believe I will be adding this addendum to any of the rentals I list that have a septic system!

Last season's tenant had young children. Mom was using "flushable" wipes, and did what the label said. She flushed them! 

She moved out, my clients came back for the summer to enjoy their home. They decided before leaving for the season and turning the house over to the latest tenants that it was time to have the septic pumped. When the septic company arrived to pump the tank, the crap hit the tank! 

The tank was FULL of flushable wipes. Let me explain why that is a problem. They can't be sucked out of the system, they have to be REMOVED BY HAND. It took three guys HOURS to clean the flushable wipes out of the tank before they could even think about pumping the tank.

3 men, many hours, lots of plastic bags to hold the wipes and a $650 dollar invoice. 

Living in a home with a septic system means you need to be mindful at all times of your system. Years ago at a septic inspection, the inspector was trying to explain the care of the system to my buyer, who was clueless as to what he was trying to tell her. Finally he blurts out...

THE ONLY THINGS THAT SHOULD GO INTO YOUR SEPTIC VIA YOUR TOILET ARE THINGS YOU HAVE ALREADY EATEN! 

Except of course, the all important TP. 

Like a light on a dimmer switch, I could see the concept take hold as she realized what he was saying to her. 

No wipes of any kind, no feminine personal care products, no condoms, no hair from your brush, no left over foods, no grease and no childrens' toys! 

When you have a septic system you should not have a disposal. You need to keep as much food as possible from going down your drains. I make sure I wipe the grease out of any pots and pans before I wash them. 

If you have a water softener, you need to make sure that the backwash goes into a dry-well, NOT your septic tank. The salt will corrode any concrete in your system. Although you may get different stories on this, currently most inspectors will tell you this, and the towns I work in have ordinances concerning this. I advise you check with the sanitation department to learn the current regulations concerning the discharge from a softener system. They do change from time to time. 

Don't take your septic system for granted. If you take care of your septic system, it will take care of you. If you don't, it could run you thousands and thousand of dollars to repair or replace. 

My second moral to my story? Love your septic system and it will love you!

And the last moral? It's a real easy one. Don't believe everything you read, those "flushable" wipes are so not flushable!

I always breath easier in the course of a transaction after a successful septic inspection!

Love your septic

Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate

2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors

2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor

 

 Search homes for sale in Litchfield County, CT.

 

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776

 

© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017

 Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain

Comment balloon 63 commentsAndrea Swiedler • August 20 2016 07:43PM

Comments

Even on my worst day as a Realtor, I wouldn't trade it for the job those 3 guys were saddled with, with those baby wipes. . .No siree!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 10 months ago

Hello Andrea

Your post is unbelievable and what a ___ty job they must have had cleaning out that septic tank 

Posted by Robert Vegas Bob Swetz, Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale (Realty ONE Group) 10 months ago

And by the way young lady it looks like you are going to be breaking  ...

One Million at the ActiveRain network 

Vegas Bob will be watching!

Posted by Robert Vegas Bob Swetz, Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale (Realty ONE Group) 10 months ago

Andrea Swiedler - There has been a lot of controversy about "flushable" wipes. It clogs up more than septec systems. I know a lot of people who had to have their toilet system unplugged. It gets very costly.

Posted by Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®, Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea 10 months ago

Andrea-I know firsthand it isn't just septic systems those baby wipes clog. My Mom flushed baby wipes down the toilet and I had to call Roto Rooter to come unclog the toilet at a cost of $340 for a half hour job. We are on city water/sewer. They said that what caused the problem.  I also know tampons will cause a problem in city sewer too. I only needed that embarrassing lesson once. Now that job those fellows had to do with the baby wipes and septic tank I wouldn't wish on anybody. I also know about grease and not putting it down the drain because people in my apt bldg would do it and it backed up in my apt.  Affected the sink. tub and toilet.  NO FUN.

Posted by Sharon Lee (Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance) 10 months ago

Andrea Swiedler Good reminder to all of us who do rent out homes with septic systems to include an addendum addressing this issue.

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI NMLS#1483386, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty One) 10 months ago

This is a fantastic post. Thank you for sharing and best of luck!

Posted by Jeremy K. Frost, Associate Broker, CNE, CRS, ePro, PSA (Keller Williams Realty) 10 months ago

Good morning Andrea. What a horroe story. Yes Mildred Septic is difficult unless you know.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 10 months ago

Andrea, That is a crappy story for certain.  The wipes are bad bad bad. They might make clean up easier but they to cause problems and they DO NO BREAK DOWN causing more issues. 

Mr. Crappy says NO to the WIPES!

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale - Probate Broker (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) 10 months ago

I heard a story in the same vein, but different items flushed down the toilet.  The agent just happened to be there with his buyer when the septic was being pumped.  The septic guys were laughing their faces off.  The tank was full of condoms.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Northern VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) 10 months ago

Hi Andrea - As a septic tank owner of 11 years, I second your excellent advice. And the next time I'm having a bad day, I'm just going to think of those 3 guys.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) 10 months ago

Andrea I've sold a bunch of homes with septic systems over the years and never have I thought about this issue. You can bet I will going forward!  Those poor guys having to clean up the mess - holy moly is all I can say.  Every landlord with a septic system would be wise to address this smelly issue before a tenant moves in and make it part of a lease. 

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten, CRS, Arizona's Top Banana of Real Estate! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) 10 months ago

   If the "flushable wipes" don't have a disclaimer on the box about septic tanks, it could be grounds for a class action lawsuit by owners of septic systems.

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Frederick Griffin, Exclusive Buyer's Broker) 10 months ago

Andrea

Oh my, that is quite story. I don't think those guys got paid nearly enough! I think an addendum regarding septic systems and what can and be flushed and not, makes sense.

A pretty crappy situation to be in !

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler, The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad (Solutions Real Estate ) 10 months ago

OH what a mess. We had a septic problem a long long time ago. I will never forget that, but not as bad as what you described nor the scene in Meet The Parents.  I was very very young, so hard to remember the cause, but I don't think we had lived there very long, so it might have been due to previous owners.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) 10 months ago

Andrea, as a city girl who has sold two properties with septic systems in an entire career, reading this was an eye opener!  Maybe tenants for properties like this one need to pass a quiz before the owners sign the lease!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, For Your Home in the Capital (Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc.) 10 months ago

Andrea - I think $650 was cheap for that kind of job!

Posted by Olga Simoncelli, Broker-Owner, RE Consultant, Licensed in CT & NY (Veritas Prime, LLC) 10 months ago

There's no amount of love, nor money, in the world that would entice me to do that job.  I'd be more inclined to agree never to poop again.

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) 10 months ago

Andrea- it was an eye opener for us when our friend's vacation home was on a septic tank.  My poor friends had to educate all guests!  And by the way... $650 seems like a bargain to have to do what those 3 men did. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 10 months ago

Andrea, this is SUCH a great post!  People have no idea what a burden this "crap" can be on a septic system.  It is also a burden to city systems as well but at least there there are mechanisms for dealing with it---but it still costs us all money.  Even if one's jurisdiction says it is OK to have a disposal on a septic system, my recommendations is:  don't believe them.  It is not OK---ask your septic system.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) 10 months ago

Andrea OH WOW now that is a nasty job, and if I had to remove those wipes the charge would have been much more than these people paid.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) 10 months ago

A tenant who moved in with 3 uncontrollable kids. Mom complainted complainted the toilet was no good plug up every thing.  It was checked out as fine just before they moved in.  After removing the toilet I found toys.  Two days later neighbor called told me the kids were walking on the tall fence and broke the window.  That was the end of the relationship.....

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) 10 months ago

Great post.  I grew up on a septic system so am very mindful about what goes in the toilets and down the drain.  We ran a plumbing company for over 12 years and I was surprised by what people thought they could run down the disposal!!!  It keeps plumber in business. 

Posted by Joan Valverde, GRI,CDPE,CNE, Colo Springs, Monument, Black Fore (Synergy Realty Group Inc) 10 months ago

I was worried right up to the point where I saw the"TP" clarification!! 

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) 10 months ago

Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker LOL, I am glad you relaxed. Yes, TP is allowed. I do make sure I use the single ply icky stuff, much to my families dismay. I have an old system and old pipes in the house. 

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 10 months ago

Hi Andrea,

Who knew thanks for posting. I will be sure to tell my clients that buy where there is a septic system.

Posted by Steve Higgins (RE/MAX Kelowna) 10 months ago

Wow, I flush flushables all the time.  I would be horrified if that happened to me or to my clients. Great lesson to learn the easy way.  Great Post.

 

Elizabeth

Posted by Elizabeth Mosley, BIC - Shepherd Real Properties (TMG Tax & Realty / Shepherd Real Properties) 10 months ago

Great post. I think there is TP that you can not flush into a septic system. When we had one we made sure our TP was the septic usable kind.

Posted by Sussie Sutton, UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers. (UTR Texas Realtors) 10 months ago

those baby wipes are  HUGE problem.  Just had a 3 year old septic fail due to this.  I represented the buyer who requested the seller have a new septic.. baby wipes and other things don't belong in septic systemems.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) 10 months ago

Actually surprised that it only cost $650.  Would think it would be more.

Posted by David Alan Baker Laveen Realtor & South Phoenix Realtor, Your local Expert (HomeSmart) 10 months ago

Everyone who owns or even occasionally visits a property that uses a septic system should read this post.

Posted by Derrick Guevremont, Rochester MN Homes for Sale (Counselor Realty of Rochester) 10 months ago

Andrea this is important information for septic owners.  It sure makes sense to add an addendum when renting such a property.

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) 10 months ago

We have city sewer but some parts of our market area do have septic systems...and these cautions are well taken...!

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce - Short Sale (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) 10 months ago

Congratulations on your feature recognition. This is a very good story to share.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 10 months ago

Thank you for the information. I will share it with others. 

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) 10 months ago

Yes, this is definitely useful information, and those septic pumpers have a thankless job. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) 10 months ago

Great information and lesson learned for many who will read your blog. Thanks for sharing. 

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) 10 months ago

Thanks for sharing:

When you have a septic system you should not have a disposal. You need to keep as much food as possible from going down your drains. I make sure I wipe the grease out of any pots and pans before I wash them

Posted by Sham Reddy, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) 10 months ago

This reminded me of when I managed various properties all over CA, a simple sign on how to use the garbage disposal could save everyone time & money.

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) 10 months ago

Good reasons to avoid septic tanks if possible.  Who wants to think about those things.

Posted by Tim Maitski, Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal (Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage) 10 months ago

I thank you for this post - it is a really good one to keep on hand when selling a home with a septic field just to warn the buyers. I am sure it will be appreciated.  I saw septic friendly toilet paper yesterday at our local CVS

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Long and Foster) 10 months ago

I charge my tenants back when they flush wipes or anything else that causes the toilet to back up.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) 10 months ago

Little green plastic soldiers, plastic forks going in sideways and lodging in the rental lodging plumbing. Oh oh, log jam and back up ... watch out Andrea Swiedler .

Posted by Andrew Mooers, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) 10 months ago

Thanks for sharing, Andrea Swiedler. These are good morals to follow whether you have septic or sewer. The wipes (and other uneaten things) easily get caught on pipe connections and can cause backup headaches.

With all that's know about them, I'm surprised they're even allowed to call them "flush-able" wipes... SO misleading.
Bruce

 

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) 10 months ago

Eye opener on septic systems. Funny & informative!

Posted by Lake Norman Mike, Selling Homes Around Lake Norman NC (Southern Homes of the Carolinas) 10 months ago

I like the way you wrote this.  People do not pay attention to what goes down the drain.

Posted by Dwight Puntigan, Dwight Puntigan (Dwight Puntigan) 10 months ago

Wow - good to know!

Posted by Katie B. Cullum, Bringing Family and Homes Together (Broker Associate & Realtor® at Equity Colorado) 10 months ago

Yup.  In all fairness, people who've never lived with a septic system have no clue.  An addendum to the lease would be a good idea.

Posted by Dianne Goode, Realtor/Broker (Raleigh Cary Realty) 10 months ago

We visit friends every summer who have a lake house - and a septic system.  I've finally gotten the rhythm of doing dishes without a disposal and not allowing any non-pre-eaten thing to go near it.  In fact, they shouldn't even have a disposal.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) 10 months ago

What a great post Andrea. Thanks for all the useful info. I've shown a couple of acreages with septic systems here, but typically homes in Iowa City and Coralville are hooked up to City Water. This post increased my learning curve on septic systems. Thanks for that. :)

Posted by Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner, Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices (Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268) 10 months ago

Very good advice. One would think that the 'flushable' wipes would be biodegradable. Makes sense.

Posted by Lisa Friedman, 27 Years of Real Estate Experience! (Great American Dream Realty) 10 months ago

Nearly all my sales are well and septic and I've lived on same for 20 years both in IL and FL. We do have a disposal system, there are some now made for septic. It has an extra additive which helps break down small particles of dood. Just have to remember to keep that stuff topped up. One thing people should not consider Ok for septic is paper towels. It's not the same as TP! Great post Andrea Swiedler 

Posted by Corinne Guest, Managing Broker, The Choice of Professionals (Barrington Realty Company) 10 months ago

Had no idea about the wipes.  We have septic and I'm sure the kids have flushed a few.  Now I will definitely share this tidbit of info.  

Posted by Melissa Jackson, REALTOR® Matching Buyers & Sellers (United Country Real Estate FW) 10 months ago

And your last line would have been my comment to the blog.  There is nothing on the packaging that indicates a flush-able wipe is biodegradable, which means they do not break down.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) 10 months ago

Andrea Swiedler - I never could imagine that flushable toilet papers are not flushable! 

Well, lesson learned - and for me, this will be in a lease for my landlord for sure!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (eXp Realty) 10 months ago

Hi Andrea --- the first line of your post tells it like it is.   

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena Area Real Estate 818.516.4393 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 10 months ago

We live in a rural area with a septic tank Andrea that depends on good habits. There is nothing worse in a home, than a septic tank backing up in sinks, tubs and toilets. It happened to our neighbors and gag! it was bad! Fantastic post!

Posted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin, St. George Area Preferred Residential REALTOR® (Specializing in Residential, Referrals & Relocation | PK Real Estate Utah South) 10 months ago

I didn't grow up with septic systems, but have visited family and friends whom had them.  I knew that you had to be careful with the toilet, but never thought about the others, like water softener and kitchen sink.  Great info!  Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Mike Bjork (American Pacific Mortgage) 10 months ago

Real Estate at New Milford, CT? Speak to (860) 355-2646 Andrea SwiedlerReal Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties Licensed in Connecticut.

Posted by Will Nesbitt, Nesbitt Realty is a family-run brokerage. (Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria) 10 months ago

This is great information for anyone that has a septic system.  Thankfuly, they are not very common in my area.  

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA Lepic-Kroeger REALTORS) 10 months ago

Hi Andrea Swiedler - My home is on a community septic and we have to constantly and ackwardly let guests know how a septic system works.  Our community had to spend $15,000 to replace the grinder pump and clean out area with a heavy duty and much safer system because of the "flushable" wipes. 

Your post is a real service to those who don't understand septic and alternative systems.  I work diligently with sellers and buyers in this area. 

 

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) 9 months ago

I don't know how I missed this, Andrea but, thanks to Roy, I found the re-blog! WOW!!  What a story - I knew the 'if you don't eat it' line but, I never really thought about wipes (which are typically flushable), not being so with a septic! Thank you so much for sharing!  I will be passing this along - for sure!

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods (www.AtHomesCharlotte.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) 9 months ago

Sadly Tenants are Tenants and the reality is they do not treat a home as if it was theirs....Endre

Posted by Endre Barath, Jr., Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002 (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices) 8 months ago

Participate