Prevent Back-ups

To protect your property from a sewage back-up, there are a few things to remember.

A back-up of sewage through the drains in your home or business is an unpleasant prospect. Fortunately there are some steps you can take to help reduce the back-ups.

Wastewater flows through the small sewer pipes in your home and on your property to the larger Town-owned lines in the street. From there the sewage travels by gravity or pumping stations to the wastewater treatment plant. The flow to the plant is continuous, having peaks in the morning and evening. Each day thousands of gallons of wastewater safely reaches our plant and after treatment, is returned to the environment.

Unfortunately, a blockage in the sewer line can interfere with this normally quiet, out-of-sight process. A blockage in your private or the Town line can cause a back-up through floor drains and toilets at the lowest point in your home or business. The back-up will continue, even causing an overflow, until the blockage is removed or until sewage is no longer entering the line.

If an overflow occurs, call 410-479-5446 during normal business hours. If your sewer cleanout near the street is accessible, Town personnel will be able to determine if the blockage is in the resident’s line or the Town’s line. If the blockage is in the Town’s line, our personnel will be able to break the blockage ending the back-up.

What Causes a Sewer Back-up?

Anything which should not be in a sewer line has the potential of causing a blockage. Kitchen grease, disposable diapers, and sanitary napkins can accumulate and cause a blockage. Tree roots seeking moisture can grow through cracks in the lines causing a blockage. Illegal hookups allow excess water into the lines. Outside stairwell drains, sump pumps, roof leaders, and drain gutters should never be connected to the sewer system. A sewer system is designed to carry a predetermined amount of sewage. Rain water not only overloads the system, but also raises the cost of the treatment system.

What Can I Do to Prevent Back-ups?

A few simple Do’s and Don’ts to protect your property:

DON’T put diapers or sanitary napkins in the toilet.
DON’T dispose of grease down the drain.
DON’T plant trees near sewer lines.
DON’T connect any drains or sump pumps to the sewer system.

DO install a plumbers test plug at the lowest floor drain in your home.
DO hire a plumber to install a backflow valve on the lowest drain line. Regularly inspect and maintain the valve.
DO replace broken or missing cleanout caps to help prevent debris and rainwater from entering the line.
DO check your homeowners insurance policy. If you are not covered for back-ups, call your agent for information on costs and coverage options.

Legislation passed by the 2008 Maryland General Assembly, effective October 1, 2008, requires all homeowner insurers to offer water and sewer backup coverage. Despite the most rigorous maintenance program, unavoidable occurrences happen that may cause a backup. Homeowners can protect themselves from unavoidable backups that may occur by purchasing the coverage which must be offered by their homeowner insurer.

Do You Know Where Your Cleanout Is?

You should familiarize yourself with your cleanout location. The cleanout is a vertical pipe located near the property line that rises from your sewer line to ground level and is capped. As a property owner, you are responsible for your cleanout. If the cleanout is buried, a registered plumber should be able to locate and raise it for you. The cleanout is used by Town crews to determine whether a stoppage occurred on the homeowner’s side or the Town’s side of the sewer lateral.