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Sewer Backup Information

Sewer line backups are an unfortunate but common problem in all communities. Although municipal utility divisions make every effort to prevent such incidents, they still may occur. The following information is offered to help property owners and residents understand why backups happen, how they can be prevented, and what steps should be taken if a sewer backup affects their property.

All information, recommendations and suggestions are meant to assist in the event of a sewer backup and are not a commitment to reimburse the homeowner for costs incurred. The homeowner has a duty to protect themselves and their property, regardless of the cause of the backup or who is responsible for it. Refusal to do so may result in negative health effects and/or further damage to the property.

The following questions and answers may be helpful:

What should I do if sewage backs up into my home?
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First, notify the City of Wentzville immediately using the contact information listed at the top of this page.

Second, take immediate action to protect people and valuable property:

  • Take caution when entering a basement that is full of water to avoid electrical shock and contact with pollutants.
  • Do not run any water down your drains until the blockage has been cleared.
  • Take reasonable steps to clean or arrange for cleanup to include removing all water or sewage contaminated items. Disinfect and dry the affected area as soon as possible to minimize damage.
  • There are qualified businesses that specialize in this type of cleanup if you do not feel safe or confident in your abilities.
  • If the backup is high enough to affect any electrical devices, furnaces, equipment or appliances, contact a reputable repair service to inspect for damages.

Third, if the public sewer main line is not blocked, you will be advised to call a plumbing company or sewer contractor to check your private service line. Maintenance and repair of the service line is the owner’s responsibility from the house to and including the connection to the City’s public sewer main line. The City crew is not authorized to perform any private service line work.

Fourth, contact your insurance provider promptly to report the incident and for future instructions. Some insurance companies provide or require professional services for the clean up.

If I call the City, what will they do about a sewer backup onto my property?
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City emergency crews are on call 24 hours, seven days a week to assist you in an emergency such as a sewer line backup and will follow up and investigate the backup immediately upon notice to determine the cause of the incident and identify any corrective action:

  • You will be asked questions concerning the backup to include contact, timing, location and property information and kept informed during and after the process by the Cityʼs crew leader or a supervisor.
  • City personnel will respond and check for blockage in the public sewer main line at or near the backed up location. If located, steps will be taken to clear the blockage as soon as possible.
  • If the public sewer main line is not blocked, you will be advised to call a plumbing company or sewer contractor to check your private service line. Maintenance and repair of the service line is the owner’s responsibility from the house to and including the connection to the City’s public sewer main line. The City crew is not authorized to perform any private service line work.
  • An incident report with your information and statement will be generated by the City’s crew leader and will be followed up by the department supervisor and/or delegated representatives by the City of Wentzville.
What if the blockage is in my service line?   
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Call a plumbing company or sewer contractor to check your service line. Maintenance and repair of the service line is the owner’s responsibility.
Contact your insurance provider promptly to report the incident and for future instructions.

How could a sewer backup affect me?
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If the backup occurs in a City-maintained line, the wastewater will normally overflow out of the lowest possible opening. In some homes – especially those with basements, or where the lowest level is even with the sewer lines – the overflowing wastewater may exit through the homeʼs floor drains. If the backup only happens when you use water, and it slowly drains when you stop using water, the problem is most likely in your sewer lateral.

What causes a sewer backup?
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Sanitary sewer backups can be caused by a number of factors. They usually involve sewer pipe blockages in either the Cityʼs public sewer main lines or in the private sewer service line which the property owner owns and maintains (sewer line between buildings and the Cityʼs public sewer main line). Causes of a backup may include pipe breaks or cracks due to tree roots, system deterioration or improper construction. In home and office plumbing systems, a frequent cause is accumulation of grease, tree roots, hair or other solid materials, such as disposable diapers, baby wipes, sanitary napkins or paper towels that are difficult for wastewater pipes to handle. Such instances may cause major backups in the Cityʼs public sewer main lines as well as in residentsʼ private service lines. Another frequent cause of blockages within the Cityʼs system is intentional dumping of debris into sewer clean outs and manholes. Leaves, sticks, rocks, bricks and trash are sometimes found in manholes.

Is there anything I can do to help prevent sewage backup into my home?
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Avoid putting grease or potato peelings down your garbage disposal or household drain and never flush disposable diapers, baby wipes, sanitary napkins or paper towels down the toilet. Grease will solidify, collect debris and accumulate in the Cityʼs public sewer main lines and your own private sewer service line. The accumulation of grease, disposable diapers, baby wipes, sanitary napkins, paper towels and debris like dirt and rocks can stop up your drains and cause blockage in the Cityʼs public sewer main lines and your own private sewer service line.



For Property Damage Claims, contact Abigail Ayers at (636) 639-2154 or via email at Abigail.Ayers@wentzvillemo.gov.