Sewer Backup

The continual flow of nutrient-filled water found in sewer pipes attracts tree roots. Roots growing along the pipes can exert significant pressure on pipes and can ultimately enter the pipe through small cracks and at pipe joints that may have opened up over time. It is the root infiltration that can cause a blockage in the lateral, the sewer line servicing your home, resulting in sewage backing up in your home and causing damage to your property. Residents are responsible for maintaining the lateral that services their property.

  1. 1
  2. 2

What to Do When There’s a Blockage or Backup

  1. Immediately stop all water usage, as backups are typically caused by the plumbing within your home or business. Turn off washing machines, dishwashers, showers and anything that uses water.
  2. If the backup is only affecting a single appliance, then contact a professional plumber as the problem is most likely a clogged drain servicing that appliance.
  3. If the backup is causing water to exit a basement floor drain, then you should contact the City’s Wastewater Division by calling 513-858-7760 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. After 11 p.m. and before 7 a.m., residents can call 513-858-7775.
  4. Please indicate that you are experiencing a "Sewer Backup" and would like to have the City Inspect the Public Main. Provide your name, address and phone number where you can be reached.
  5. Residents should be aware, however, that the City is responsible for the public sewer main only. The homeowner is responsible for the cleaning of the sewer service (lateral) from the house or building to the public sewer main.
  6. City crews will be dispatched to inspect the upstream and downstream manhole servicing your property. If it has been determined that no blockage or restrictions exist within the City’s sanitary sewer system, the property owner will be advised to contact a professional plumber specializing in drain cleaning to have the private sewer service cleaned and inspected.
  7. City staff will not make recommendations on who to call. Residents should use the Yellow Pages or other resources to find a plumbing professional in our area that can assist in resolving their issue. Residents should verify the company they have selected with the Better Business Bureau prior to any work being performed.
  8. Residents are encouraged to have their service lateral visually inspected by closed circuit camera after the blockage has been removed. This type of inspection will provide the property owner an insight into the cause of the blockage and will be useful in determining future maintenance needs.

Tips for Controlling Roots

The conventional method of removing roots by cutting or tearing is used to solve an immediate problem or stoppage, but this method does not slow down the growth or destroy the roots outside the pipe. This is similar to pruning the bushes and shrubs surrounding your residence. They will grow back! Property owners who have determined that they do have root intrusions have several choices to prevent future backups.

  • Replace the section of sewer pipe experiencing the root intrusion.
  • An annual chemical root control program can be an effective preventive maintenance measure. These products can generally be found in the plumbing section of most Home Improvement Centers or at your local hardware store.
    • Products containing copper sulfate or metam sodium, although effective, should be avoided as both are harmful to the environment and to the natural bacteria which normally decomposes the dead roots.
    • A product that foams with the addition of water is the most effective means of coating the roots and pipe surfaces. Non-foaming products will only be effective on roots that are actually in the water line and will have no affect on the small roots entering the top or sides of the pipe.
    • For all Chemical Treatment make sure to follow the manufacture’s application recommendation.
  • An annual mechanical cleaning by a professional contractor specializing in drain cleaning.

City Prevention Maintenance Program

The Wastewater Divisions Collection Department has an annual preventive maintenance program where they will clean trouble spots and treat the sewer mains with a foaming root killer. Some lines become so problematic that the City may opt to install a liner in that section of pipe to eliminate all root intrusion.

This process may impact the lateral servicing your property. Any roots within 2 to 3 feet of the sewer main may be affected but the majority of the service lateral will not be impacted by the City’s root treatment program.