What to Do After a Sewer Backup

Environmental Services works to build and maintain a safe and efficient sewer and stormwater system. We identify and replace sewer lines with capacity problems or pipes that are in danger of failing. But, if a sewer pipe becomes plugged with wipes, garbage, debris, or grease, backups can occur.
On this page

Step 1: Call a Plumber

If a sewer backs up into your home or business, it’s best to call a plumber first to investigate the cause of the backup. Learn more about how and when to report the problem to Environmental Services.

Step 2: Clean Up

Option 1: Hire a Cleanup Professional

There are several companies that specialize in cleaning and restoration services following a sewer backup or water damage. Search online for a professional cleaning service using keywords like "cleanup sewage backup" or "cleanup sewer backup."

Option 2: Do the Cleanup Yourself

If you begin the cleanup yourself, remember that bacteria in sewage is a health hazard and take basic precautions.

Protect your health by:

  • Wearing gloves, boots, rain gear, and other protective clothing.
  • Avoiding coming into contact with sewage or material contaminated by sewage. Be especially careful to not let sewage come into contact with your face or eyes.
  • Protecting cuts and scrapes. Immediately wash any wound that comes into contact with sewage.

How to clean up:

  • Wash all surfaces with hot, soapy water.
  • Disinfect all surfaces with a solution of one part household bleach to ten parts water.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after cleaning up.
  • Wash and disinfect clothing and supplies used in cleaning up.

After Clean Up

For information about filing a claim for damages caused by a backup of the City’s sewer system, call the City's Risk Management group.

Prevent Future Backups

There are many steps you can take to protect your sewer pipes and prevent backups.

Sewer Backflow Prevention Program

A sewer backflow prevention device may prevent sewage from backing up into your basement. It’s a one-way valve installed in your home’s drain line that allows wastewater to flow out, but swings shut to help prevent sewage from flowing back in.

The City created the Sewer Backup Prevention Program to help pay for installing sewer backflow prevention devices. The program works this way:

  • Residents of combined sewer areas subject to basement flooding may apply. Environmental Services staff can tell you if your home is in such an area.
  • Participation is one time per address.
  • Once an application is approved, the resident hires a plumbing contractor.
  • The resident pays the first $100 of installation costs. The City will pay the next $1,500.
  • The reimbursement is taxable income.
  • The resident is responsible for any remaining costs. Installation typically costs around $1,600.
  • The device belongs to the resident. The resident is responsible for maintenance and repair.

The property owner is responsible for any future sewer backups at the address after participation in the program. Call Environmental Services Sewer Backflow Prevention Program for more information (contact information on this page).

Ongoing Basement Moisture Problems?

If you have continuing problems with seepage or moisture in your basement, please let us know by taking our online survey.


Report Sewer Odor or Emergency

phone number503-823-1700Call to report a sewer emergency 24 hours a day

Sewer Backflow Prevention Program

Environmental Services
phone number503-823-5366Residents of combined sewer areas subject to basement flooding may apply. Call for an application.

Risk Management - Liability Claims