If you have a sewer backup and are unsure as to where the blockage is, do the following:
  • Contact the city to inspect the sewer line before contacting a drain cleaning company to possibly avoid any unnecessary charges.
  • A Utility Department 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 cleaning 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 sewer backup.
  • Sanitary sewer line blockages are typically caused by roots, grease, and improper disposal of items.
The city is not automatically liable for blockages in the 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 damages resulting from sewer backups; however, many insurance companies provide insurance riders available for purchase to insure loss due to sewer backups. Homeowners should evaluate their own specific needs with their insurance agent.

Backup Prevention Tips


Liquid grease/oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of in the garbage after it cools, not down the drain. Some people incorrectly assume washing grease down the drain with hot water is satisfactory. This grease goes down the drain, cools, and solidifies in the homeowner’s service line, or in the sewer main. When repeated the line will eventually clog.

Paper Products

Paper towels, disposable diapers, and feminine products cause many problems in the property owner’s service as well as the city main. These products do not deteriorate quickly, causing backups.

Flushable Products

Just because the package says “flushable” or “septic safe” doesn’t mean it’s true. Currently, there is no state or federal standard for flushability, and tests have shown that flushable wipes do not degrade readily like toilet paper. Many municipalities around the state are experiencing serious problems with flushable products within their sewer systems.


The continual flow of nutrient-filled water found in sewers attracts tree roots. Roots growing along pipes exert significant pressure. These roots can push into gasket joints, expand and break seals and the pipe itself. The conventional method for removing roots involves cutting or tearing roots to solve the immediate problem, but this method does not destroy the roots outside the pipes. This is similar to pruning the bushes and shrubs around your residence; it is a reoccurring maintenance issue.