The vast majority of sewer back-ups occur in older sections of the City sewer system that was constructed with clay tile pipe prior to 1975. Clay tile is a very hard material, but is also very brittle. Shifting of the ground over time can cause cracks in the pipe and joints to partially separate allowing tree roots to enter into the sewer main in search of a water source during dry periods. These roots continue to grow and restrict the flow of wastewater in the pipe. They also provide an excellent point for grease to accumulate which eventually blocks the flow.
City maintenance crews root cut and clean the city sewer lines on a regular basis, exceeding the industry standard of 3-5 years. However, the customer service lines that are also constructed of clay tile have the same root growth issue. These lines are the responsibility of the customer. The City continues to identify, fund, and rehabilitate the clay tile sewers throughout the city.
It is important for all customers to control what goes into the sewer. Sewers are designed to carry away wasted water and human waste. They are not designed to be garbage disposals.
Please do not put excessive food waste, greases, rags/towels, or any automotive products down the sewer drains. Flammable materials can cause explosions if gases travel through the sewer pipes to an open floor drain near a pilot light such as the one on your hot water tank or furnace. Keep all drain traps filled with water to prevent sewer gases from entering the residence.
Another common reason for sewer back-ups is excessive wet weather water entering the sewer system which takes up pipe capacity and backs up customers in lower elevations. While the City is actively working to reduce the amount of ground water that can enter into sewer pipes and manholes, customers must be cognizant of illegal connections made to the sewers that are designed to evacuate foundation and downspout water. Sump pumps, foundation drains, and downspout connections are explicitly prohibited by plumbing codes and city ordinance. These sources of water into the sewer mains will only make yours or your neighbors’ situation worse during rain events. Backup Do's and Don'ts