How you can avoid costly repairs from 'flushable wipes'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Flushable wipes might be convenient, but a plumber said they can cause headaches down the line. A Jacksonville family said they learned that the hard way.

Nearly 50 years of memories are in Kevin Herbertson's 88-year-old mother's home.

"Her husband served in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam," he said of his mother's late husband. "Highly decorated."

He said since Wednesday, sewage containing solid waste overflows into the laundry room and into the back yard if certain tops are on pipes in the yard.

He said his mother can't do laundry, can't take a bath and can't use the restroom in her own home.

"It's degrading. She shouldn't have to go through any of this," he said.

FCN asked Herbertson what he believes may have caused the continued problem.

"Flushable baby wipes, yeah," he said. He said though they were taught not to do it, his mother flushed 'flushable' wipes down the toilet.

Kevin said they've spent hundreds of dollars and called a plumber who's come several times to snake the pipe.

A JEA spokesperson said they too have come out at least three times very recently and checked sewer flow. A JEA spokesperson said the issue is on the homeowner's side.

While FCN was at the Herbertson home, a different plumbing company came to snake the pipe and put a camera down below. This plumber said in 2014 alone, he's dealt with 'flushable' wipes stoppages in two to three dozen homes.

"They're worse than paper towels or feminine products," Frank Freece described. "But, because they're marked 'flushable,' people think they can just go right on down."

In late December, Consumer Reports tested 4 types of 'flushable' wipes. Some took at least 10 minutes to break up. Their bottom line, to keep the drain and pipes clear, put these wipes in a lined trash bin.

"Do not flush anything but toilet paper down the toilet," Herbertson said.

Kevin told FCN that the new plumber who came Monday morning was able to clear the pipe blockage of wipes.

That plumber, Freece, said it's best to not flush:


-disposable brush scrubbers

-paper towels

-baby wipes.

JEA spokesperson, Gerri Boyce, said here is how you can avoid a plumbing incident at your home:

Boyce recommends that you do not flush:


-dairy products

-paper towels


-flushable wipes

-feminine products

Boyce said homeowners is responsible for your home's system up to the point where the system connects with the line under the roadway.


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