‘Wipes Clog the Pipes’: Civil Engineers Say American Toilet Paper OK to Use at Yokota

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Residents of this Tokyo Air Force facility do not have to hand in their favorite US toilet paper brands, the 374th Civil Engineering Squadron commander said Friday.

Flushable wipes and hygiene products are the real culprits for septic system backups that can lead to clogged drains that result in overflows in bathrooms and sinks, Lt Col Bradly Bucholz told Stars and Stripes. The newspaper, which provided information from a contractor that Bucholz said was incorrect, reported on Thursday that thicker-ply American toilet paper was the problem.

“Most of these pipes were built in the 1970s,” says Bucholz. “These older piping systems can often have to be slung and cannot handle baby wipes, but toilet paper is designed to dissolve and is fine to use.”

Large food scraps and oil running down the sink can also clog plumbing, he said. Children flushing toys and other large items down the toilet unsupervised have also caused problems, although this is uncommon.

The 374th Civil Engineering Squadron is considering several basic improvement projects, including the residential towers, Bucholz said. Tower 3004, for example, is undergoing a plumbing and wiring makeover.

Yokota’s residential towers were last renovated in the 1990s, but still have the 1970s plumbing system, he said. Civil engineering examines repeated calls from the same homes to make sure no bigger problem is at hand.

“In those cases, nine times out of ten has nothing to do with objects being flushed down the toilet, but with the condition of the plumbing,” said Master Sgt. Charles Patterson, the Superintendent of Operations Engineering.

The squad will speak to newcomers during the orientation program, but plumbing is not large enough to prioritize instructions, Bucholz said.

“The biggest takeaway is wipes clog the pipes,” he said.

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