COVID-19 crisis is leading to big plumbing issues. Here's how you can prevent it

Posted at 11:04 AM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 11:06:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- With more people being at home and using the bathroom more than normal, plumbing experts say they have received more calls about clogged drains.

And those drains aren't necessarily being clogged by all of the toilet paper that some people have stockpiled, but more so by disinfectant wipes being flushed down the drain.

Experts believe the scarcity of toilet paper has left others scrambling and sometimes using other options for sanitary purposes.

James Ferrell with Michael and Son Services in Richmond says since the pandemic on average they get at least 16 or more calls a day because of it.

"Almost every day we definitely get a call about the lines being backed up," said Ferrell. "I know a lot of customers are at home during this time. And they're not really thinking too much about it until the issue arrives."

Experts say a lot of people choose to flush wipes and other thick paper materials down the drains instead of throwing them away, thinking that’s the better option.

But ultimately it could cost hundreds even thousands of dollars to have the problem fixed or even have pipes repaired.

"Over a period of time, what I always tell customers it’s like a clogged artery and over a period of time it’s going to get smaller and smaller. In the Richmond and the surrounding areas, that’s definitely going to be a recommendation... because the pipes are just that old.”

Public health agencies and experts recommend to not flush any wipes, paper towels, or sanitary products down drains.

Michael and Son is working with customers during the pandemic and are offering financial plans to assist those who currently without a job and are having plumbing issues.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.