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Backup Buster

What to do if you have a backup or backflow

Buster, I have a backup or backflow problem!

What do I do?!


A backup usually will not cause damage if you stop using the backed-up sink, tub or toilet until the system is cleared. Most backups can be cleared with drain cleaners or a plunger. If these methods fail, call a plumber. If the plumber finds out that the problem is not in your sewer line, call your local sewer or sanitation district, located in the phone book under Government listings for wastewater utility services.


A backflow may mean that the city main is blocked and wastewater is backing up into your lateral line and home. If you experience a backflow, call your local sewer or sanitation district immediately.

Sewer or sanitation district responsibilities:

A representative will be sent out to investigate and remedy any problem found in the city or sewer district main or lateral maintained by the city or district. City or sewer district personnel will help and advise you if the backflow occurs because of a blockage somewhere other than your lateral.

Your responsibilities:

The homeowner is responsible for clearing any blockage in the home's plumbing system or private lateral and for any resulting flood damage to the structure. The homeowner is also responsible for damage that happens because a lateral was not properly installed, including illegal hookups or not having a required backflow prevention device.

If a backup or backflow causes flooding in your home:

  • Keep people and pets away from the affected area(s).
  • Do not attempt to clean it yourself.
  • Turn off central heat and air-conditioning systems and prevent flow from reaching floor vents by using towels or blankets as a berm. You can also remove the vent cover and stuff a towel in the opening to help prevent the flow from entering.
  • Call an experienced restoration company for cleanup and removal of affected surfaces.
  • Leave items in the affected area for the experts to handle.
  • Report a claim to your homeowner's insurance carrier.
  • If you had recent plumbing work, contact your plumber or contractor.
If you have a claim against your city or local sewer district, file your claim as soon as possible. Check your local government listings if you are unsure who provides your sewer service.

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