Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How to Avoid a Sewer Backup

In a climate like southern Idaho, winter is the wost time for sewer backups. The City of Jerome frequently hears from residents who have sewer water backing up into their laundry rooms or other areas of the home where they may have drains draining directly into the sewer system. As a rule, the City will help residents clean up these backups and assist in recovering destroyed property, however the City is rarely entirely responsible for the situation. In fact, the blame for sewer backups should be attributed to the cold weather.

As the temperature cools down in the winter, wastewater from toilets, kitchen sinks, and other sources flow more slowly to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. As a result, grease and other household products tend to congeal in cold sewer pipes, causing blockages and occasional freezing. As these blockages continue to build, the sewer line will back up into homes and businesses, causing an unsightly and smelly mess.

Here are a few tips to avoiding sewer backups:

1. The best way to dispose of grease to avoid blockages is to throw it away with the trash, instead of pouring it down the drain.

2. If you do end up pouring grease down the drain, always dilute it with dish soap and warm water first. Simply running hot water down the drain is not effective in disposing of grease and can actually increase the risk for blockages. By adding dish soap to the grease before pouring it down the drain, you will denature and break up the grease particles which will it to flow more rapidly to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

3. If you plan on leaving on vacation or during extremely cold weather (when average temperatures are less than 15 degrees), leave a tap dripping so as to avoid freezing pipes.

4. If installing new sewer or water lines in a home or business, NEVER place pipes on exterior walls. This is one of the most common and avoidable causes for sewer and water pipe breakages. In addition, all pipes should be insulated, regardless of location.

5. Never flush anything that is not biodegradable or large enough to cause a blockage. "Flushable" does not mean biodegradable. Condoms, tampons, paper towels, rubber gloves, wet-wipes, rags, and many other commonly flushed items can easily cause blockages or maintenance issues at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The best rule is this: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT AWAY IN THE TRASH.

By following these five basic tips, you will greatly reduce your chances of have a sewer backup in your home or business. If you do experience a backup, please call the City at 324-7122 and let us help you with the clean up.

For any questions, please call City Hall at 324-8189 or the WaterWorks Department at 324-7122.

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