DEALING WITH SEWER BACKUPS
Sewage backing up through the drains in your home or business is a very unpleasant situation,
however, there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening to you.
For starters, if an overflow occurs, you should discontinue your inside water use until the problem is
corrected. If you continue to use water and the sewer line is already blocked, the water has
nowhere to go but back up through your drains and toilets and into your home or business.
Any number of causes could be responsible for the sewer backup. Some of the causes include:
• Kitchen grease, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, and even the accumulation of some
types of cleaning materials and detergents can lead to a blockage.
• Tree roots are a big problem, especially with older sewer lines, as they will grow through
cracks in the line to seek moisture.
• Illegal hookups to the sewer system will allow excess water into the lines. Items such as
rain gutters and sump pumps should never be hooked into the sewer system. The City's
sewer system is only designed to accommodate a certain amount of water, and rainwater,
particularly during periods of heavy rain, would overload the system and cause problems.
Do you have a cleanout?
A cleanout is a pipe that rises to ground level from the sewer line and is normally capped.
Many times, cleanouts become hidden or buried over the years, and are not readily accessible.
In the case of an older home, a cleanout may not have been installed when it was built. If your
property doesn't have a cleanout, it would probably be a good idea to contact a licensed
plumber to install one for you.
If you have a sewer cleanout available, the Public Works Department will be able to tell
whether the blockage is on your side or the City's side. If the blockage is in a City sewer line,
our personnel will be able to remove it and end the back-up. If the blockage is in your
sewer line, you will have to contact a plumber to clear the blockage for you.
Hopefully, you will never have a problem with a sewer backup. However, if you do, you can
minimize any damage to your property by taking the following preventative measures:
• Put diapers or sanitary napkins in the toilet.
• Dispose of kitchen grease down the sink drain.
• Plant trees near sewer lines.
• Make sure you have a sewer cleanout and that it is readily accessible.
• Consider having a plumber install a backflow valve. Inspect and maintain it regularly.
• Check your homeowner's insurance policy. If you don't have coverage for sewer backups,
contact your agent for information on costs and coverage options.