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Sanitary Sewer Backup or Overflow

What should I do if I have a sewer backup?

Call Public Works at 563.326.7923, 24/7.  After the City receives your information, crews will first check the public sewer main to determine if the main is the cause of the backup. If the public main is operating normally, the property owner is responsible to have their private sewer lateral inspected and cleaned or repaired, as needed, by a plumbing professional.  

If a plumbing professional determines your lateral needs to be repaired or replaced, the City does offer a Sewer Lateral Repair Grant Program to assist with the cost of eligible repairs and replacements, refer to the Sanitary Sewer Main or Lateral Leak/Collapse tab above.

What should I do after the problem is identified?

Once the problem has been identified and the repair process has been started, you will need to contact your insurance company and begin the cleanup process. Be sure to contact the insurance company prior to beginning the clean-up process, some insurance companies require specific photographs and other details for the claims process.  You may also be eligible for financial assistance under the City's No-Fault Sewer Backup Reimbursement Program.  You must contact your insurance company before submitting an application to this program.

What can I do to prevent a sewer backup?

Many sewer backups can be prevented.

Whether you have or have not experienced a sewer backup, it is always a good idea to protect your property by having a sewer check valve installed by a qualified plumbing professional. Having a sewer check valve provides you with the ability to shut the line off and may help avoid further contamination on your property.

Other prevention measures include:

  • Avoid placing fats, oils, grease, food scraps and wipes down the drain, refer to the AVOID THE FINANCIAL & ENVIRONMENTAL DRAIN tab below for more details.
  • Avoid planting trees and shrubs over the private building sewer. The roots of trees, particularly Silver Maple and Willow trees will seek out the joints of the sanitary sewer and may clog the pipe in the long term.
  • Keep a lint trap in sinks that drain washing machines in place. It is easier to clean out the lint traps than it is to clean out the building sewer.

If You Smell Sewer Gas - Check to see if all sewer traps at the property are filled with water and check to see if the cap on the sewer cleanout is on tight. If the gas smell persists, call Public Works at 563.326.7923, 24/7.