Sewer Backup Do's & Don'ts

  • Do keep your sewer cleanout accessible and be knowledgeable of where your sewer cleanout is located in case of a back-up emergency. The cleanout is a pipe located near the property line that rises from your sewer line to about 4” above ground level and is capped. It is often located in a basement, front yard or back yard. If you do not have a sewer cleanout or your sewer cleanout has become buried, hire a licensed plumber to install a cleanout or raise your existing cleanout.
  • Make sure you are covered for backups with your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you are not covered, call your agent for information on costs and coverage options. Most insurance companies offer a rider for water damage or failure of a sump pump.
  • Save all receipts related to any repair, cleaning or damage. In addition, take a lot of pictures with descriptions of where the damage occurred. This information will be useful when working with your insurance company.
  • Don’t dispose of grease down the drain. Backups are often the result of a grease buildup in the drain. As an alternative, pour greasy or oily food waste into a coffee can or other container. Allow animal fats to solidify before scraping the pan or throwing the grease container in the trash.
  • Don’t flush diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, baby wipes or condoms down the toilet. Flushing such items can easily cause a blockage in the drain.
  • Don’t plant trees near sewer lines. The Department of Public Works (DPW) will make every effort to assist homeowners with planting trees in public right-of-ways, however, private sewer line locations cannot be guaranteed. It is a homeowner’s responsibility to locate private sewer lines. A licensed plumber can be hired to help locate private sewer lines.
  • Don’t connect clean water drains or sump pumps to the sanitary sewer system.