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Wet Wipes Causing Sewer Problems by Clogging Industrial Pumps

Flushable wipes aren't so flushable after all... find out how they've been wreaking havoc on global pumping systems.

Flushable wipes have been a growing commodity for consumers for the last several years, acting as an alternative for baby wipes and allowing convenient cleanup of household messes. These increasingly popular flushable wipes are causing headaches for pump operators around the country for contributing heavily to clogs and other expensive maintenance problems. These problems have begun to arise due to the fact that these “flushable” wipes don’t break down as fast as advertised or simply not at all. New York City, who manages the largest sewer system in the country, spent over $18 million over the course of five years to fix pump-related complications because these flushable wipes did not break down after flushing.

Sales of flushable wipes have grown mainly due to their convenience. On the other hand, this convenience can come at a steep cost as detrimental effects these wipes can have on plumbing systems. Understanding how these flushable wipes can cause pump system damage and erosion can help you minimize repairs and maintenance and help you choose what type of pumps should be installed to better handle them.



The two main issues with the older centrifugal pumps found in sewer and wastewater treatment facilities are clogging and the abrasiveness of grit or solids present.  Pumping larger solids or cloth-type wipes found in wastewater treatment facilities can routinely cause clogging for centrifugal pumps. This is due to the intrinsic design of the centrifugal pump, which features a large rotating impeller with critical tolerances that do not allow solids to pass through easily. While this design works well with clear water or liquids, adding solids such as wet wipes to the mix can lead to a multitude of problems, including clogging and impeller erosion. Operators rely on their pumps working around the clock, so when a clog does happen it creates unwanted downtime and extra expense.

Based on the low and critical tolerance in a centrifugal pump, any wear will cause the pumps dynamics to be thrown off, reducing its optimal efficiency. This results in a severe loss in suction. To remedy the damage to the pump, the pump must be taken out of operation and rebalanced or replaced entirely, which is very costly to the sewage or wastewater facility (tax payers). To help combat the wet wipe clogging issues, wastewater plants now often equip their pumps with comminutors – also known as sewage grinders – in order to break up the material so that the centrifugal pumps can handle it more effectively. However, while this does alleviate some of the issues, it still costs time and money to maintain and implement these grinders to existing pump systems.

The Eddy Pump, unlike centrifugal pumps, have a large tolerance between the rotor (impeller) and the volute so it does not get clogged with wet wipes or other debris.  Furthermore, due to the Eddy Pump’s engineered construction that does not have any critical tolerances, the rotor (impeller) does not get worn down like centrifugal pumps and lose suction.  This saves a significant amount of money over the life-cycle of the pump by saving on the continuous rotor and volute changes.

A chopper upgrade can also be fitted for use in sewage and wastewater pumping applications. For most other pump applications, the EDDY Pump works without comminutors, macerator or grinders because the tolerance is large enough to pass all material without any issues. But for large-scale municipal use, we recommend cutter to break down flushables and other non-organics because while Eddy Pumps can pass large waste and inorganic material, clogs can still happen downstream from the pump.

Eddy Pump benefits:
-Lowest life cycle cost VCHT pump system on the market
Non-clogging vacuum pump system
Lowest maintenance pump system
No eductor or macerator needed

As you can see from our detailed cost analysis, using the Eddy Pump will save you a large amount of time and money throughout the life of the machine. Utilizing US Navy data, this cost analysis shows a total cost savings of over 17 million dollars for 25 pumps over a four-year span!

With Eddy Pump, you can be confident you will enjoy less clogging, lower maintenance costs, more uptime and a happy project manager. Call us to match the right sized pump to your job. View our different pumps here.

Why EDDY Pumps Are Better – Highlights

This video shows how EDDY Pump transports high slurry and abrasive materials. Featured dredge pump equipment includes the Remote Operated Subdredge, Diver Operated Pump and a Excavator Attachment Dredge Pump.

Order or Get Selection Help

Let our sales or engineering support help in your grit pump and wastewater equipment selection. Call (619) 258-7020