Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Flushable wipes are a product that many use in the bathroom.
But the those flushable wipes don't appear to be living up to their name.
Some are causing major problems like clogging pipes and causing pump stations to breakdown nationwide.
"It's a lot of rags, debris, diapers, wipes, paper towels, a little bit of everything that people think they can put down the toilet and waste water staff has to deal with it on a daily basis," said Stephen Sealy with Columbia Waste Water Department.
Water plant operators around the country say the use of flushable wipes are on the rise and that's not a good thing for the pipes underground.
"It's literally a daily fight that the city has to put effort into, put income into , put revenue into, just something we have to put up with on a reoccurring basis."
Stephen Sealy with Columbia's Waste Water department says even though the label tells you that it can be flushed down the toilet... most of them don't break down.
"Every two to three days the rags, debris and other things clogs our pump station, our maintenance crews run across it on a daily basis."
"There is a big difference between flushable and non dispersible," said Bill Davis, Columbia Waste Water Engineer.
"A flushable item basically says it breaks down... when it gets into the waste water stream and just because it is flushable does not mean it breaks down."
Davis took us into their lab and we tested several different types of flushable wipes as well as paper towels and toilet tissue. We stirred the items for more than 30 minutes. The only item that broke down was the toilet paper and it only took about 10 seconds.
"These things are coming down the toilet and possibly clogging your lateral lines that come out to our system so they may get clogged in their house or a back up in the house, it could get clogged in the street and cause a sewer overflow."
Experts say pumping systems weren't designed to break down wipes and diapers; in the long run it could help keep your bill down if you don't use them.