Sewer Problems

Sewer Backups

Sewer Odors

Sewer Backups

In the event sewage backs up into your basement, call the City immediately at 971-9311. If it is a weekday after 5 PM or a weekend, call 971-5151. A City crew will respond to assess the situation. Several things can cause a backup.

  1. If your home has an inoperable sump pump groundwater can flood your basement.
  2. Fats, oils and grease clog sewers. Meat, salad dressing, butter, cooking oils, and many other food scraps contain fatty byproducts that, when washed down a drain, quickly solidify and deposit on the inside of sewer pipes.  Over time, the buildup of these fats, oils and grease can completely block a sewer line.  Many of the soaps and detergents claiming to dissolve grease simply pass the problem down the pipes, clogging sewer lines in other areas.
  3. Tree roots will creep into the sewer pipe, trying to find water, and over time cause a blockage. Older houses may have clay sewer service lines, generally constructed in 4-foot segments, which are more susceptible to root intrusion than the sewer lines constructed today. The natural swelling and shrinking of soils can cause the joints between the segments to pull apart, creating an opening for roots to enter.
  4. Foreign objects (for example, a child's toy) can cause a backup.
  5. If the city's main has become clogged a backup can also occur

The city is not responsible for any problems related to the customer's service line or sump pumps. Steps the homeowner can take to protect their property and prevent a backup include:

  • Pour leftover cooking oils into a container and bring them to the City's Household Hazardous Waste Facility for proper disposal or recycling
  • Scrape fat trimmings into the trash (not the garbage disposal)
  • Wipe grease from pots and plates with a paper towel before washing
  • Know where the sewer line is located, and avoid planting trees or shrubs near it
  • Periodically have the service line mechanically cleaned/root cut or pressure washed (every 3-5 years, or every year for older clay pipes)
  • Choose chemical root treatments that contain a foaming agent designed to expand and fill the sewer line, coming in direct contact with the roots (roots typically enter the top part of the sewer line)

If there is a backup, the city crews will run a cleaning device down the city main to clear any clogs in the main, and to attempt to dislodge any tree roots or foreign object that may be in the customer's service line near the connection to the main. If the City main is blocked, after clearing the blockage, city crews will schedule a TV inspection to determine what caused the backup. This will be completed within 2 weeks of the backup, weather and equipment availability permitting.

If the city sewer is backed up and causes cleanup costs in the basement or building, the city will reimburse up to $2000 of the actual incurred clean-up costs. City crews will supply a claim form to the residents after clearing the backup and verifying the scope of cleanup efforts needed.

 Sewer Odors  Return to Top

All fixtures connected to the sanitary sewer system are required to have a trap that prevents sewer smell and sewer gas from entering your home or building. Sewer gasses develop as the sewage starts to decompose on it's way to the wastewater treatment plant.

If you smell any sewer odors within your home or office, make sure that none of your traps are dry. Check your basement floor drains and any fixtures that are infrequently used. If the sewer smell persists, call the city immediately at 971-9311 or 971-5151 after normal work hours (Monday-Friday 8-5). Sewer gas can be dangerous! Sewer gas and odors typically will enter through a dry trap or a broken service line under the structure. Flushing or cleaning of the sewer mains will at times provide some temporary reduction in the sewer smell. The property owner will be responsible for hiring a plumber to fix any plumbing problems within the facility.