Sewage is backing up into my house/building through overflowing toilets, sinks, bathtubs, dishwasher, and/or washing machines. What should I do?

If these problems occur and you are not using your household water outlets, there may be a problem in the public main. Call (805) 684-7214 ext. 110 or (805) 451-7809 to request service.

If your household water outlets are being used, turn them off to stop the running water. This indicates a possible problem in your building sewer. You need to call a reputable plumbing company to address blockages on private property, as the District is only responsible for the public portion of the sewer system.

What is the principal cause of sewer backups?

Most of the time, sewer backups are due to tree roots that grow into and clog the lines as they seek the water inside the pipe. Discharging grease into the sewer system can also cause backups.  In recent years, wipe products – including so-called “flushable” wipes – have become a significant problem in private and public sewer systems.

How can I avoid sewer backup problems?

There are simple measures you can take to maintain your sewer line in optimum condition, among them:

  • Don’t pour grease down your drains. Dispose of grease with your trash.
  • Snake your line to remove roots, but call us before doing it. Call a reputable plumber if you have clogged lines. If the plumber snakes your line, call us first so we can catch the root ball as it is pushed into the main sewer. This will prevent sewer overflows that could backflow to your home.
  • Don’t flush incompatible items. Don’t flush large or bulky items (teddy bears, diapers, rags, etc.) that don’t belong down the toilet. Many of the “flushable wipes” and similar products can contribute to sewer backups also.
  • Identify where the cleanouts (access points) to your sewer line are and keep them accessible in case a plumber needs to access them. Typically, they are near the house in a garden area, in the driveway, or possibly even in the garage.
  • If you have chronic root problems, one possible solution is the removal of trees or plants that may be the culprits.

Who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of sewer laterals and cleanouts?

The District provides maintenance and repair of main sewers and lateral sewers within the public right of way, provided there is an accessible and serviceable cleanout at the property line. Maintenance and repair of the building sewer, cleanout and point-of-connection to the District lateral are the responsibility of the property owner.

Why is video inspection of sewer lateral important? Is CCTV inspection required when a property changes hands?

Video inspection of your sewer lateral can identify defects and problems before they cause a backup into your home.  They can also guide sewer lateral repairs.  While not yet required by District ordinance or local building departments, obtaining a CCTV video inspection of the sewer lateral is highly recommended when purchasing a home or commercial property.   Most realtors are advising clients to do this inspection due to the very high cost of sewer lateral replacement and repair.

How can I find out where the District's sanitary sewer mains are?

CSD maintains records of where the public mains are located, and in most cases, the same records may show where individual laterals are connected at the main . CSD has not always inspected the installation of building laterals, so the map records may not be accurate in all cases. District personnel are generally available between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to assist in determining sanitary sewer main and house lateral locations.

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