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FAQs About  Wastewater Sewer Backups

What are the main causes of sewer (wastewater) backups? 

Normally sewer backups occur because of clogged pipes, which are often preventable. Backups can also happen because of invasive tree roots, cracked pipes, sagging pipes, weather, natural disasters, vandalism, infrastructure breakdown, incorrect installations, and separated joints in underground pipes. Backups are more common in older homes with basements. At times, the cause of a backup in a wastewater pipeline is from items that the line is not meant to handle, such as kid’s toys, diapers, paper products (other than toilet paper), keys and many other items that will clog the line eventually.

    How can we prevent a sewer (wastewater) backup in our home? 

    Keep Fats, Oils and Grease out of your drains and garbage disposal and ensure that no objects other than toilet paper and human waste are being flushed down toilets. Use paper towels to wipe out excess pan oils before washing. You can also use a grease-fighting liquid dish soap to help break up potential blockages. You might also want to contact a plumber to assess your pipeline and drains periodically. Plumbers can clean out existing pipes, and video your sewage pipeline all the way to where it connects to the District’s main sewage pipeline.

      What items should NEVER go down the drain or into a toilet? 

      Fats, oils, grease, bones, paint, medicine, coffee filters, solvents, hair, sanitary pads, diapers, wet wipes, dental floss, cigarettes, cleaning supplies, tissues, and bandages should NEVER go down the drain or into the toilet. In other words, if it’s anything at all that is likely to contribute to your pipes getting clogged, put it in the trash, not down the drain. These items not only clog pipelines but cause environmental concerns during the treatment process.

        Who is responsible for the sewer (wastewater) pipeline maintenance? 

        It’s important to know that the sewer (wastewater) pipeline from the property line of the Property Owner to and throughout the home is owned and maintained by the Property Owner. The District maintains the sewer service line from the property line to the point of connection (usually under the street) where it connects to the wastewater main pipeline.

          Who cleans up a backup sewage mess in my home? 

          It depends on where the obstruction occurred in the sewer service line. If a backup occurs in your home, immediately contact the District to report the back up. The District will then assist in the remediation, determination of the cause, and establish responsibility. That’s why it is so important to let everyone in your home know not to flush and put down the drain harmful items such as fats, oil, grease, wet wipes, feminine protection items, etc.

            Are there any insurance options to protect us from backup damage? 

            There are some insurance agencies that offer coverage for sewer and drain backups. Talk with your agent to learn more.

              What should we do if we have a sewer backup in our home? 
              1.  Contact the District immediately for assistance if you help in determining where the blockage is located.
              2. Check the toilets, sinks and drain pipes to clear any blockages to ensure that the water is not due to an internal plumbing problem. It’s important to know that a sewer (wastewater) backup is contaminated and may contain a number of bacteria and viruses, which can affect your health.
              3. Try to carefully close as many drain openings as possible.
              4. Don’t run any more water, use the toilets or send any water down the drain as it will likely end up in your basement or lower levels of your home.
              5. Check with your neighbors to see if they are experiencing any backups. If they are, it is likely that it is a problem in the main sewage line. Contact the District immediately to report the problem.
              6. Call a plumber to assist with clearing the issue, closing any drains remaining open, and to assess your home’s internal issues.
              7. Contact your homeowner’s insurance to determine what coverage might be available





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