‘Flushable’ wipes causing major plumbing problems during COVID-19 crisis

Coronavirus

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Of all the things we’re having to deal with thanks to COVID-19, a backed-up sewage line may be the most inconvenient. So-called flushable wipes are almost as hard to get these days as toilet paper.

Scott Schaffer, service manager at Michael and Son in Norfolk said the wipes are keeping his plumbers busy lately.

“We have seen an upsurge in clogs overall and we think a lot of that has to do with the TP shortage,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer said their calls have just about doubled, and older homes that have cast iron pipe are especially prone to clogs from flushing wipes.

He said don’t be misled by what you see on the package of wipes.

“Even if it says flushable on the package, the material’s too thick to break down properly,” he said.

If the clog is just in the plumbing inside your house, the bill could be as little as a few hundred dollars. But if it gets to the sewer line between your house in the city street, the price will skyrocket.

“(A customer) had 20 feet of pipe that was backed up with wet wipes,” Shaffer said. “We ended up with a multiple-thousand-dollar job replacing their entire sewer line.”

Remember it’s not just the cost of replacing the sewer line and pipe. If that line backs up, you could have sewage backing up into your house and then you’d have to pay for the flooding damage that that would cause.


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