If you have a sewer backup and do not know where the blockage is, you should contact the City before contacting a drain cleaning company. A Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) employee will determine if the problem is in the City’s line or in your property’s service line. The property owner is responsible for clearing any blockage in the service line between the home and the City sanitary sewer main. This includes debris and tree roots. The property owner is also responsible for cleaning and repairing any damage done to the property by the backup.
The City is not automatically liable for blockages in the City’s sanitary sewer system. The City is only liable for those damages if the backup was caused by the City’s negligence.
Most homeowner insurance policies exclude damage resulting from sewer backups. Many insurance providers do have insurance riders that can be purchased to insure loss due to sewer backups.
Sanitary sewer line blockages are typically caused by roots, grease, and improper disposal of items. Tree roots can enter the sanitary sewer system at joints and cracks in the sewer service lines and mains. Grease can solidify in the sewer lines and restrict other waste from flowing through. The lines can be blocked by items like disposable diapers, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, washing machine lint, or other items improperly flushed down the drain or toilet.
How to prevent backups in your service line and in the City sewer main
Property owners can do many things to prevent their service from backing up. Remember, the very same things can help prevent backups in the City main as well.
- Grease: Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of in the garbage after it cools, not down the drain. Some people assume that washing grease down the drain with hot water is satisfactory. This grease goes down the drain, cools off, and solidifies either in the drain, the property owner’s service, or in the sewer main. When this happens, the line eventually clogs.
- Paper products: Flushable wipes, paper towels, disposable diapers, and feminine products cause many problems in the property owner’s service as well as in the City main. These products do not deteriorate quickly. They become lodged in portions of the service and main, causing sewer backups. These products should be disposed of in the garbage.
- Sewer Root Control: The continual flow of nutrient-filled water found in sewer pipes attracts tree roots. Roots growing along pipes exert significant pressure on pipes. These roots may push into and around gasket connection points which may expand and break seals. Root infiltration can cause a blockage to the service resulting in sewage backup in your home and damage to your property.
Tips for Controlling Roots
The conventional method of removing roots by a professional drain cleaning service involves cutting or tearing of roots to solve an immediate problem or stoppage, but this method does not retard the growth or destroy the roots outside the pipe. This is similar to pruning the bushes and shrubs surrounding your residence.
An annual chemical root control program is an effective preventative maintenance measure. A product that foams with the addition of water is the most effective means of coating the roots and pipe surfaces. These products may be purchases from your local hardware store or home center.
- Illegal Plumbing Connections: Do not connect French drains, sump pumps, roof gutter drains, or foundation drains to your sanitary sewer service. It is illegal and will cause debris and silt to clog your service line. Consult a plumber to correct any illegal connections.