Sewer Backups

Sewer Back-ups

A sewer backup creates a stressful and emotional situation for the homeowner/renter. In some cases it may cause health and safety concerns as well as significant property loss. A proper response to a sewer backup can greatly minimize property damage and diminish the threat of illness.

If the problem is in the sewer lateral, the homeowner or business is responsible for correcting the problem. The owner of the property is responsible for maintaining and cleaning the sewer lateral from the building (or home) to the City’s sewer main, including the connection on the sewer main. Locating the lateral is also the responsibility of the property owner.

Ways to Prevent Backups in Your Lateral and in the City Main

Proper disposal of grease and cooking oil:

Grease and cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container to cool off, and then disposed of in the garbage, not down the drain. Some people assume that washing grease down the drain with hot water is satisfactory. Such is not the case. This grease goes down the drain, cools off, and solidifies either in the drain, the property owner’s line, or in the main sewer. When this happens, the line constricts and eventually clogs.

Proper disposal of paper products:

Paper towels, disposable diapers, and feminine products cause a great deal of problems in the property owner’s lateral as well as in the cities main sewer. These products do not deteriorate quickly, unlike bathroom tissue. They become lodged in portions of the lateral/main, causing a sewer backup. These products should be discarded in the trash.

Managing tree roots:

Shrubs and trees, seeking moisture, will make their way into sewer line cracks. These roots can cause extensive damage. They may start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree or shrub continues to grow, so does the root. After time, this causes your sewer line to break, which in turn allows debris to hang up in the line, thus causing a back up. One way to prevent roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe. The other alternative is to be careful about planting greenery around your sewer line or you may purchase a product containing “copper sulfate”, which helps to kill roots when you pour it down your drain. This product should be used with extreme caution. If you have continuing problems with the tree roots in your lateral, you may have to have them cut on occasion.

Sewer Odor

Another concern is smelling sewer odors in side the house, apartment or building. There are many was to prevent this from occurring. Under each drain in your plumbing system, there is a “P-Trap”. IF there is water in this fitting, odors or gasses from the sewer cannot enter through the drain from either the lateral or the main. Periodically check to make sure that the unused floor drains, sink etc. have water in the “P-Trap”. Another way to prevent sewer odor is to ensure that vents, which are located on your roof, are free from bird nests, leaves, etc. When these vents are clear, the sewer odors will escape though these vents.

It may also be extremely helpful to have a backwater prevention valve installed. A backwater valve can prevent or greatly reduce the possibility of a sewer backup. A back water valve is a fixture installed into a sewer line, and sometimes into a drain line, in the basement of your building, to prevent sewage backflow. A properly installed and maintained backwater valve works on a one-way system, sewage can go out, but cannot come back in. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of backwater valves. The cost to install one is dependent upon the type of plumbing in your home and difficulty of installation. We can assist you in determining your needs.

What do I do if my sewer backs up?

If you experience a sewer backup, call us at 206-242-3767 or page us at 206-230-1977. Stop using your water immediately! We will send someone out to address and determine if the stoppage is in the city main or your sewer lateral. If it is on your lateral side, then you as the owner will be responsible for its repair.

CAUTION: Sewer back up can lead to disease, destruction of your valuables, and damage to your home, apartment or building. We will start as fast as possible on the clean up. Clean up of the affected areas will require immediate attention. This will help minimize the inconvenience and damage that you will experience. We are a “one call does it all company”, so we can take care of everything from beginning to end.

A sewer backup can be very stressful to all involved. In addition to potential loss of property, the situation is a disruption of daily life. We are dedicated to your satisfaction and will work as quickly as possible to restore your home and peace of mind.

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