Sewer Back Up

Preventing 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 the following items: 

  • Disposable diapers
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Paper towels
  • Washing machine lint
  • Other items improperly flushed down the drain or toilet

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.



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

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

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.

Determining Sewer Line Blockage vs. Sewer Service Blockage

Sewer Line Blockage

If you are not using any water and the sewer backup levels keep rising, the blockage is in the City sewer line. In this case, contact the Public Works Department immediately to report a blockage in the City sewer line. After business hours call dispatch to report the problem.

Sewer Service Blockage

If you are not using any water and the sewer backup level stops rising, the blockage is between the house and the City sewer line in the street or your yard. In many lakeshore areas, the City sewer line is located in the yard between the house and the lake. In this case, you will need to contact a sewer cleaning service (check local yellow pages or online) to clear the blockage in the service line.

Please notify the City if you have had a sewer cleaning service clear a blockage in your sewer service line. The cleaning of a blockage in your service line may cause a blockage in the City sewer line when the debris is pushed from the service line into the City sewer line.

Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Sewer Backups?

Most homeowner insurance policies will not cover a sewer backup without sewer backup coverage. The City will not cover damages unless it was proven that the City was negligent in maintaining its system. The City recommends you consider obtaining a rider that would cover such damage if it would occur. Sewer backup coverage is usually available for a nominal additional cost on your homeowner’s insurance policy.