Who to contact if sewage is backing up into your basement
Contact the sewer operations hotline.
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 to call if the sanitary sewer backs-up after normal working hours
If the back-up occurs outside of normal working hours (7 am to 3:30 p.m.), call the Sewer Operations stand-by employee.
The employee will typically arrive within a half hour to assess the issue.
Who to contact regarding cleanup responsibility (as a result of a sewer back-up)
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 to do if you believe the damage is the City's fault
All Sewer Operations crews will have Claimant Packets available for property owners in their City vehicles.
Fill out the form and return as soon as possible. Determination of fault is generally worked out between insurance companies.
What you can do about slow drainage in your 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. They will determine if the problem is in the City sanitary sewer.
What you should do if it smells like "sewer gas" in your 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.
- You can also check the stack vents on your roof to make sure they are not blocked by leaves, snow or ice.
Causes of sanitary sewer back-ups
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:
- The sanitary sewer pipe is in poor condition.
- Natural conditions, such as the ground moving.
- Higher than normal amounts of rain.
- Misuse of the sewer system in your home.
Causes of 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.