Preventing Sewer Backups

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.

Eliminate Fats, Oils and Grease for Homes and Apartments (PDF)
Eliminate Fats, Oils and Grease for the Food Service Industry (PDF)


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 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 preventive 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 purchased 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.