AUSTIN, Texas -- Plumbing and air conditioning services are among the essential businesses still operating during the work-from-home ordinance, working hard to take care of their communities.

  • People increasingly using disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products amid COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Plumber says don't flush anything other than toilet paper
  • Consequences could include costly repairs to septic tanks and sewer systems

But many people are unknowingly making their jobs much more difficult by not paying attention to what they're flushing down the toilet.

Seems like common sense, right? Well, apparently not.

Central Texas plumbers are unnecessarily having to clear out clogged septic tanks and sewer systems filled up by things that should never have been flushed in the first place: dish rags, paper towels, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, and more.

New Braunfels Utilities posted a photo on its Twitter account detailing what happens when you flush things other than toilet paper. Even San Antonio Water System tweeted out some pictures showing the consequences of flushing anything other than toilet paper down the commode.

Many of us are using more disinfectant wipes as we clean our houses, but just because they’re similar to other seemingly flushable wipes doesn’t mean they will break down in the same way. 

According to Radiant Plumbing and Air Conditioning owner Brad Casebier, toilet paper is the only product designed to tear apart quickly in your pipes - not paper towels, not facial cleansing wipes, none of that - so it’s best to check the packaging to see what can and cannot be flushed.

"If it flushes it's not going to damage toilet, it's just going to clog your toilet," said Casebier. "Now, where you're really going to run into a potential real risk is if you have a compromised plumbing system or older plumbing system and all that stuff gets hung up in the pipes. Down the line this could be a way more costly and difficult problem to solve."

So how do you avoid an expensive plumbing repair in the future? Simply don't flush anything besides toilet paper. Even bathroom wipes that tout their ability to be flushable are best disposed of in the trash.

It's especially important not to flush paper towels and disinfectant wipes even though they may seem flushable.

Again, plumbers and air conditioning technicians are still operating since they are essential services, so if you do have a plumbing emergency you can still reach out and get assistance.

Casebier says his employees are all trained in practicing new social distancing techniques and are wearing gloves and face masks as an added precaution.