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.

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.

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.
  • 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. 
  • Do not put large amounts of vegetable waste, such as pea pods and tomato skins, through the garbage disposal at one time. Even though these materials will go through the garbage disposal, they may clog the private building sewer.
  • Do not put large amounts of grease or paint down the drain.  Over time these materials will build up and eventually cause blockage.
  • 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 the building sewer serves a commercial establishment in which a grease trap is required, the grease trap should be cleaned periodically to prevent the solids from bypassing into 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.