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Sewer Back Up Information

Sewer backups are an unfortunate problem.  The Village of Muscoda makes every effort to prevent such incidents, but 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 citizens should take if a sewer backup affects their property.

What causes a sewer backup?

Sanitary sewer overflows can be caused by a number of factors.  They usually involve sewer pipe blockages in either main sewer lines or service laterals (lines between buildings and the main line).  Causes may include pipe breaks or cracks due to tree roots, system deterioration, insufficient system capacity due to residential or commercial growth, or construction mishaps.  In home and office plumbing systems, the main cause is accumulation of grease, tree roots, hair, or solid materials, such as disposable diapers or sanitary napkins that are too large for wastewater pipes to handle.  Such materials may cause major backups in Village lines as well as in resident’s lateral lines. 

How could a sewer backup affect me?

If the backup occurs in a Village maintained line, the wastewater will normally overflow out of the lowest possible opening, which is usually a manhole.  However, 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 home’s lower drains and toilets.

What should I do if sewage backs up into my home?

  • A quick check with nearby neighbors will help determine if the backup appears to be in your  wastewater line only, or widespread in your neighborhood.  In either case, call the Department of Public Works immediately.  Numbers are listed at the end of this letter.
  • Take action to protect people and valuable property.
  • DO NOT run any water down your drains or flush toilets until the blockage has been cleared.
  • Keeping in mind that ceramic plumbing fixtures such as toilets are fragile, quickly close all drain openings with stoppers or plugs.  Tub, sink, and floor drains may need additional weight to keep them sealed.  A string mop can be used to help plug toilet openings.
  • Call a plumber if the problem is in your lateral service line.

If I call the Village, what will they do about a sewer backup onto my property? 

  • You will be asked questions about the backup timing, location, the property at risk, etc.
  • Village personnel will check for blockages in the main line. If found, the blockage will be immediately cleared.
  • If the main line is not blocked, you will be advised to call a plumbing or sewer contractor to check your lateral line.  Maintenance and repair of the lateral line is the owner’s responsibility. 
  • To minimize damage and negative health effects, you should arrange for cleanup of the property as soon as possible.  There are qualified businesses that specialize in this type of cleanup.            

Is there anything I can do to prevent sewage backup into my home?

  • Avoid putting grease down your garbage disposal or household drain.  It can solidify, collect debris and accumulate in Village lines, or build up in your own lateral (pipes).
  • NEVER  flush any type of diaper-child or adult, baby wipes, feminine products, paper towels or shop towels, down the toilet.    
  • If the lateral line in your older home has a jointed pipe system, consider whether the roots of large shrubs or trees near the line could invade and break pipes.  It is a good idea to know the location of your lateral line(s).
  • If the lowest level of your home is below ground level, such as a basement floor drain, it may one day be affected by a backup.  One way to prevent sewage backup through such below ground areas is to install a “back-flow valve” on the lowest drain(s).  You can also use a plumber’s test plug to close these drains when not in use. 
  • For further information about preventive measures, contact a plumber or plumbing supply dealer. 

What does the Village do to prevent this problem?

  • Every attempt is made to prevent backups in the public wastewater system before they occur.  Sewer lines are specially designed to prevent accumulation and stoppages.
  • In addition, the Public Works Department inspects and cleans wastewater lines throughout the Village on a regular schedule.  One third of the sewer system is jetted and vacuumed each fall.
  • Root killer and degreaser are put in the sewer system quarterly.  
  • Even with our maintenance schedule, backups are often beyond the Village’s control. 

Will insurance cover any damage to my home or property?

In the majority of cases, a special rider will need to be added to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to cover damages related to sewage backups or water damage.   Check with your insurance agent about this policy provision.

As with the majority of municipalities in the country, the Village cannot assume financial responsibility for damages resulting from sewage backups, since most stoppages are related to conditions that are beyond the Village’s control.  That is why it is important that property owners confirm that they are adequately insured—particularly if areas of their home lie below ground level. 

How and where should I report a sewer backup?

Village personnel are on call 24 hours a day to assist you.  To report an emergency such as a sewer line backup you should call: 

Phone Number                                       Days                                Hours

739-3182 - Village Office                       Monday - Friday              8:00 am - 4:30 pm

739-3782 - Public Works Shop             Monday - Friday              7:00 am - 3:30 pm

739-3390 - Utility Shop                         Monday - Friday              7:00 am - 3:30 pm

739-3144 - Police Department                                                       After hours, weekends and holidays