Wastewater backup policy for residential customers

 Wastewater backup policy for residential customers

Trees in wastewater linesOur residential Wastewater Backup Policy generally states that we will assist customers with damages caused by verified blockages in our wastewater main line if the customer is not the negligent cause of the stoppage. Maintenance of the wastewater service line, which runs from the customer's home to our main line, and damages caused by service line blockages, are the customer's responsibility.

More than 90 percent of all wastewater blockages occur in the four-inch service lines that run from your home to the main line. We recommend customers have their wastewater service lines cleaned professionally once every two years. More frequent cleaning may be required for those living in older neighborhoods with large trees. Tree roots tend to enter underground pipes and can cause blockages.

We are responsible for adhering to wastewater main cleaning and maintenance schedules under normal circumstances. Schedules range from six months to three years. Cleaning frequency is based on system performance history and condition of pipe.

Preventing backups

Kitchen Drains

  • Do not pour liquid grease down the drain. Before washing pots and pans, wipe out congealed grease with a paper towel.
  • Do not pour paints, varnishes or other hazardous materials down any drain.
  • Run cold water through your garbage disposal both during and after each use.
  • Do not put fibrous or stringy fruits and vegetables like celery, corn silks or banana peels in the garbage disposal. These materials may clog your drain.

Laundry/Washer Drains

  • Use moderate amounts of soaps and detergents.
  • Use a biodegradable detergent.
  • If your washer has a lint trap, clean it out regularly.
  • Use additional lint and hair traps where possible. Be sure to clean these traps and filters regularly.


  • Each drain should be fitted with a strainer that catches hair and soap. Clean the strainer regularly.
  • Store small objects away from the toilet.
  • Only use toilet paper in the toilet. Don’t flush diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, facial tissue or any other products down the toilet.
  • Be sure the toilet is operating properly. The tank should fill with water to the recommended level and the toilet should flush completely with adequate force.

Cleaning your sewer lines

Hire a reputable, professional wastewater contractor to clean your service lines on regular basis. Below are some suggestions for cleaning service lines:

  • Make sure your contractor cleans the entire four-inch diameter of the service line all the way to the wastewater main. The contractor may have to temporarily remove a toilet on the lower level of your home to access the entire diameter of the line.
  • If your service line requires frequent cleaning, ask your contractor about installing an outside clean-out. You’ll get better results without having the mess of cleaning from inside your home.
  • If tree roots are the problem, discuss with your contractor or home improvement store using a root inhibiting chemical such as copper sulfate crystals. These chemicals kill only the roots growing in the line and will not kill the tree. You should use any type of chemical control product in strict accordance with the label to help protect the environment.

The need for frequent wastewater service line cleanings varies greatly depending on your situation. Some customers may need to have their service lines cleaned every three months while others may rarely need to have it cleaned. Some things to consider:

  • Customer wastewater service line responsibility is from the home to the connection to the main sewer line.
  • If you live in an area with numerous trees, more frequent service line cleanings may be required. Tree roots will invade wastewater lines searching for moisture, especially during a drought.
  • Older homes with clay service lines are prone to wastewater blockages caused by tree roots. More frequent cleanings are recommended.
  • If you’ve had a wastewater backup in the past, chances are it will happen again if you wait too long between cleanings.