Backup in your basement?

What to Do
Water backing up in your drains, or on the floor in the basement? Call us first 784-5282, 24 hours a day.
View our Emergency Response Policy.

To help prevent future backups, see What to Flush.

Why Did It Happen?
This usually involves an unauthorized person removing a manhole cover and dropping objects into the manhole and obstructing the flow. This has occasionally resulted in a back up into a building, but generally results in a manhole overflowing.

The backup is caused because the service is broken, full of roots or other blockage in the connection from a building. Service connections are the responsibility of the property owners. When a connection is determined to be in need of repair, the property owner is notified that repairs are needed, it will be the owners responsibility to have it repaired at their own expense..


(Other than at a service connection)

Obstructions in a manhole or main may be due to structural failure, roots, or a buildup of grease, rags or grit. These problems can be identified and corrected by the Sewer Department.

The type and priority of preventive maintenance following an obstruction is dependent on various factors.

Obstructions which caused a sewer backup into a business or residence are classified as top priority for investigative and follow-up preventive maintenance measures. This priority is given to assure that a subsequent obstruction does not occur due to the same source. Corrective measures may include routine cleaning on an established frequency or dig-up and repair if warranted.

Obstructions which caused wastewater to overflow from a manhole and do not cause personal property damage, are placed on a lower priority repair schedule, or on a routine cleaning/inspection schedule.

This is not an obstruction, but the result of heavy or prolonged rainfall causing the sanitary sewer main to fill due to infiltration and inflow (I&I) of storm water. This is a big problem in the Town. Please be sure that sump pumps are hooked up to the storm sewer ONLY, if they are connected to the sanitary sewer it will only increase this problem. Much work has been done to eliminate I&I from sanitary sewers but there are areas where this is still a problem. However, there are measures a property owner can take to prevent backups from a surcharged main. Please call the Sewer Department (784-5282) for an evaluation of your property, or if you think you are hooked up incorrectly. If any problems are found with the property owners plumbing, it will be the owners responsibility to have it repaired at their own expense.

What to Do After a Backup
The following guidelines are intended to assist the resident or owner and are not intended to be an inclusive list of recommended procedures and precautions following a sewer back-up. Depending on the individual circumstances of each loss situation and in order to ensure a healthy indoor environment for current and future occupants it may be necessary to contact a professional water damage restoration service.

Sewage and flood waters contain bacteria and other hazardous microorganisms. These can be transmitted by touching contaminated items or by tracking them into uncontaminated areas on shoes. Children and pets are especially vulnerable. Frequent hand washing is an important preventive measure.

Potential health and safety hazards must be identified and, if possible, eliminated prior to implementing cleaning or restoration procedures. Before entering the affected area the potential for electrical shock hazards and gas leaks must be assessed.

It is very important to begin mitigation procedures as soon as safely possible to minimize subsequent health hazards and primary property loss and to avoid secondary damage to structural materials or microorganism development (mold and mildew). Loss mitigation begins with rapid response, and involves reasonable and prudent steps required to preserve, protect and secure property from additional secondary damage. Unlike fire or other similar type losses, water losses may not start out severe, but may end up causing damage because of delay in cleaning up the water or sewage. The prospect of successful restoration depends largely on the speed with which the building and personal property can be dried. Generally, by taking proper emergency action immediately, a sewer back-up will result in either no damage or minimum damage caused by the water.

The Town does not provide or arrange for any cleaning that may be needed inside a building following a sewer back-up. The resident or owner has the responsibility to minimize damage.

1. Treat all water-impacted surfaces and furnishings as unhealthy, until properly cleaned.

2. Keep children and pets out of the affected area until the area is properly cleaned.

3. If there is no risk of electrical shock, turn off circuit breakers supplying electricity to wet areas; unplug and remove any small electrical devices currently located on wet floor coverings or other wet areas.

4. Do not use any electrical equipment while standing in water. Operate wet vacuums only when plugged into a ground fault interrupter or ground fault equipped outlet.

5. Remove all water and sewage from the basement or other affected area as rapidly and safely as possible.

6. Extracted waste water must be disposed of in a sanitary sewer system.

7. Ventilate the affected area with the use of floor fans, and a dehumidifier if available, to properly dry the area. You may rent floor fans and dehumidifiers. If it has not been directly contacted by water activate the building's HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) system, turn on exhaust or ceiling fans and open windows and doors when conditions are favorable. Careful consideration must be given to whether use of existing drying resources might serve as a means of spreading contamination or pose a safety hazard.

8. Do not use heat to dry closed building interiors; mildew and expanded water damage may result.

9. Decontaminate sewage-damaged materials by spraying them with, or immersing within, a cleaning solution. This treatment will not provide full disinfection, nor is it intended to do so. The objective of initial decontamination is to commence the reduction and mitigation of microorganisms as quickly as possible. It is important to recognize that exposure to materials treated during initial decontamination poses a health risk and may result in an adverse reaction. A second disinfection should take place following the initial cleaning.

10. All tools and machines used, especially pumps, vacuum recovery tanks and hoses must also be cleaned and decontaminated.

11. Remove and secure small furniture items as possible to minimize rust or stains and expedite restoration.

12. Place aluminum foil under legs of wood furniture, especially antiques that may permanently stain carpet.

13. Thoroughly clean and dry all wood furniture and other wooden items then wipe them with an oil-base wood polish.

14. Hang draperies and pin up furniture skirts as possible to prevent contact with wet floor coverings, minimizing damage such as water marks, dye transfer and migration.

15. Remove, clean and dry all wet rugs, clothing, shoes, books, paper goods, fabrics, potted plants, items stored in boxes or other items that may stain the carpet (check especially under beds and in closets). Valuable books and documents may be frozen to retard mildew growth until cleaning and drying can be performed.

16. Remove and secure breakables, moisture sensitive or high-value items.

17. It is recommended that a determination be made as to whether floor covering materials (e.g., carpet, cushion, vinyl, wood, laminates) are salvable. Considerations may include, but are not necessarily limited to, owner preference, construction integrity, porosity, and potential health effects from contaminates.

18. Take up saturated rugs and carpets when hardwood floors are at risk.

19. If the water was high enough to involve a motor on a furnace, or electrical appliance, call a reputable repair business to remove the motor and dry it. In most cases a motor can be dried without incurring any damage to the motor.

20. Take all items that have finely machined parts, such as sewing machines and typewriters, to a repair facility immediately for cleaning and oiling.

21. Transport computers to a dry environment, remove cases and blow dry with low pressure air and contact a repair facility.

22. Wash all concrete or tile floors with fresh water, then wash them with a strong germ-killing and odor-killing solution.

23. Other than paper products, there are very few items that are permanently damaged by water unless allowed to sit in that wet condition. Water will not hurt metal or wood if thoroughly dried and wiped down with some form of oil. Clothing and carpet not cleaned and dried will mildew and stain. Motors and machine metal parts can be saved if thoroughly dried by a professional. Floor tile and carpeting will remain secure if the water is removed immediately, otherwise, the water will dissolve the adhesives used in securing the floor tile or carpet to the floor. Wood furniture, wood paneling, and other wooden objects will check, separate, stain or warp if left wet.

For additional information about sewer back-ups call The Sewer Department at 784-5282.