'Flushable' wipes cause major clogs

Published: Dec. 17, 2014 at 3:57 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 17, 2014 at 2:33 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A problem that's not flushing away anytime soon is flushable wipes, clogging up systems, nationwide, even in South Carolina.

These wipes are sold as an alternative to toilet paper and "flushable" is in the name, but officials with the water authority and plumbers are urging you keep your wipes, out of the pipes. They will flush, yes, but they will not dissolve.

Once they flush, they latch onto other items people are sending down the toilet or the drain, like hair and grease. All of these things build up in our system, creating a blockage.

Officials say they can clog pipes and tangle into massive knots which will damage pumps. That can lead to a sewer overflow into the street or a backup in your home.

One area reporting major issues from these wipes, is Charleston.

WMBF News checked in with the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority to see if we're seeing the problem. They noted one case at a local healthcare facility but it was fixed right away. Other than that, we're in the clear, but that can change.

If we don't get on top of these problems, local plumbers at Roto Rooter say, it could become a bigger issue.

RotoRooter employees said they get about 10 calls a week for issues like this. They also said, these wipes aren't the only problem.

A general rule of thumb, your toilet and your sink, are not a trash can.

Local plumbers say the biggest clogging concerns are wipes, grease and sanitary products. Q-tips, diapers, kids toys, and makeup wipes are other common products causing issues. Another thing you don't want to flush is old medicine, that could impact the environment and drinking water.

The City of Myrtle Beach says the big issue they see, is grease. The problem with grease is it hardens as it cools, so accumulation will block up pipes.

All of these products will eventually result in sewer back-ups or overflows. The goal is to keep everything flushed out and working.

"Be very cautious of what you flush or pour down your drain. If you've got a trash can put it in the trash can and if you've got grease put it in a jar, don't pour it down the drain," said Roto-Rooter Service Manager Tony Shelton.

Plumbers say these major backups could flood your house and cost you hundreds of dollars to fix the problem.

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