Coronavirus Facts First

Mahoning County engineer says flushing wipes can lead to flooded basements

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Pat Ginnetti urges people to stop flushing wipes down the toilet, especially ahead of this weekend's projected rain

(WKBN) – The coronavirus has led to panic buying, but it’s the throwing away that is now causing a problem.

There’s no issue with you using a wipe to clean surfaces. The issue comes when you decide to throw that wipe away — many people are flushing them down the toilet.

“Once you get one rag caught up in the pipe, every other rag that comes down and everything else is going to get caught on that and it can eventually create a blockage,” said Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti.

Mahoning County has been noticing blockages or plug-ups. The wipes cause backups and issues because the pumps can’t grind through them and they don’t deteriorate like toilet paper.

Engineers have already taken apart a couple of pumps to pull the material out of them.

“It takes a while to take the pump apart but it takes the station off service while you’re doing that,” Ginnetti said.

Mahoning County has 40,000 customers in the sanitary system. Ginnetti is pleading with people to throw the wipes away and not flush them in the toilet. He suggests you start doing it now.

“We have some rain coming up this weekend and we’re very concerned it’s going to cause some major problems in our system,” he said.

The engineer was concerned when this crisis started. The health cautions and recommendations were to sanitize things, and he knew the wipes would be popular.

He just highly recommends when you’re done, that you put them in the garbage. It protects the county’s equipment… and yours too.

“It’s possible it could get caught up in their laterals when they flush the toilet and it can eventually cause issues in their own house, causing their own basement to flood,” Ginnetti said.

New parents use baby wipes when changing a diaper and put the wipe in the used diaper, then throw them away. After using a sanitizing wipe, just throw it in the garbage.

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