Public Works

Sewer and Storm Drain Unit
24-Hour Hotline (612) 673-5625
or call 311 for non-urgent issues

Sewer Problems in the Home

Who should I contact if sewage is backing up into my basement?

Contact Sewer Operations at (612) 673-5625, 24/7 and a crew will assess the situation at your property at no charge. If they determine the blockage causing the back-up is in the City-owned sanitary sewer pipe, Sewer Operations personnel will resolve the issue. If the blockage causing the back-up is in your private sanitary lateral, you may need to contact a professional drain cleaning service.

Who should I call if the sanitary sewer backs-up after normal working hours?

If the back-up occurs outside of normal working hours (7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), call the Sewer Operations stand-by employee at (612) 490-5568, who will typically arrive within a half hour to assess the issue.

Who should I contact regarding responsible of a cleanup as a result of a sewer back-up?

Call 311. If Sewer Operations determines that the City sanitary sewer is the cause of the back-up, City staff will open the blockage and restore flow. We may need to take pictures of the flooded areas for documentation purposes.

Consider hiring a professional cleaning company to make sure no health hazards exist in your property's basement after the back-up has been resolved. The property owner can submit a claim for damages and other costs related to the back-up.

What if I believe the damage is the City's fault?

All Sewer Operations crews will have Claimant Packets available for property owners in their City vehicles.


You can get a claim form at Risk Management Claims (330 2nd Ave S, Suite 550, Minneapolis, MN 55401) or download the form on the Claims Process web site. Fill out the form and return as soon as possible. Determination of fault is generally worked out between insurance companies.

What can I do about slow drainage in my toilets, showers and sinks?

Slow drainage is typically caused by clogs in the property's plumbing system. You can try using drain cleaning products, or call a drain cleaning service. 

Rarely, there can be an obstruction in the City sanitary sewer line. If you feel this may be the case and your neighbors are having similar problems, contact Sewer Operations at (612) 673-5625 and they will determine if the problem is in the City sanitary sewer.

What should I do if it smells like "sewer gas" in my basement?

The most common cause of a "sewer gas" (hydrogen sulfide) odor in basements is due to improperly maintained floor drains. Floor drains are designed to trap these gases and take them away from your basement.

To avoid sewer gas in your basement, periodically pour a bucket of water down each floor drain. Make sure plumbing fixtures are used regularly so water remains in the "P" traps. Also, you can check the stack vents on your roof to make sure they are not blocked by leaves, snow or ice. 

What causes a sanitary sewer to back-up?

Most back-ups occur when the sanitary lateral gets clogged with roots that have grown into a cracked or broken sanitary lateral. Back-ups can also occur due to:

What causes a sewer stoppage?

A sewer stoppage can occur when a City sanitary sewer pipe becomes obstructed, causing the sewer in the public right-of-way to back-up. This can result in water and/or sewage coming up through basement floor drains, or if the obstruction is located in the sanitary service lateral.

Last updated Feb 26, 2018



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