Helping Prevent Back-Ups

Helping to Prevent Back-ups

Anything which should not be in a sewer line has the potential of causing a blockage. For example: Kitchen grease, disposable diapers, and sanitary napkins can accumulate and cause a blockage. Tree roots seeking moisture can grow through cracks in the lines, causing a blockage.

Vandals have stopped up lines by putting bricks, wood, oil filters, bed springs, and other larger objects in manholes. Illegal hookups allow excess water into the lines. Outside stairwell drains, sump pumps, roof leaders, and drain gutters should never be connected to the sewer system. A sewer system is designed to carry a predetermined amount of sewage. Rainwater not only overloads the system, but also raises the cost of the treatment process.


  • Put diapers or sanitary napkins in the toilet
  • Dispose of grease down the drain
  • Plant trees near sewer lines
  • Connect any drains or sump pumps to the sewer system


Install a plumbers test plug (available at hardware stores) at the lowest floor drain in your home. Hire a plumber to install a backflow valve on the lowest drain line. Regularly inspect and maintain the valve. If you have previously experienced a backup and have not installed a backflow valve, you could be responsible for any damage regardless of the backup location.

Modify the plumbing line so that water is pumped to an upper level drain, eliminating the drains at the lower level.

Locate and keep accessible the sewer cleanout in your front yard. If you do not have a cleanout, have one installed by a plumber. The cleanout is the property owner’s responsibility.

You may want to check your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you are not covered for back-ups, call your agent for information on costs and coverage options. If you experience a backup, save all receipts related to any repair, cleaning, or damages.

Place broken or missing cleanout caps to help prevent debris and rainwater from entering the line.