What To Do If Your Sewer Backs Up


The sewer system inside and outside of your home should provide years of carefree service. To do so, however, requires preventative care on the part of the user and proper attention when trouble does develop. Sewer trouble often results from improper use.

Sewers are not designed to receive objects such as diapers, sanitary napkins, cloth, sticks, toys, grease, etc. These items should never be flushed down the drain as will often become lodged at turns in the sewer line and are costly to remove. When your sink, bath tub or any other fixture begins to drain out slowly, the line should be cleaned and/or flushed to restore its normal capacity so as to avoid future blockage.

Common Causes of Sewer Blockages

Even with these precautions, there may be times when your sewer becomes blocked. This will usually become evident when the toilet tends to run over, and at the same time the water in the sink or bath tub at the same elevation is slow in draining. Common causes of sewer blockages include:

  • Something stuck in the sewer line between the fixture and the sewer main
  • Growth of tree roots in the service line to the home
  • A collapsed tile

In rare instances, blockages may also be caused by a blockage in the sewer main itself.

What to Do If Your Sewer Backs Up

If you are having problems with your sewer, the following steps should be taken:

  • Contact 311 (or 847-931-6001) if you are aware of or suspect a blockage in the sanitary sewer mains. The city will check the main line for blockage and jet the city's portion of the sewer line. The city is responsible for maintaining and restoring service to the main sewer lines only. If the city’s main line is clear, the homeowner will be advised to contact a licensed plumber to service their connection. At this point, the homeowner is responsible for any and all costs incurred.
  • When a plumber is called, every effort to clear the blockage should be made by normal rodding techniques. If a cleanout has not been provided in the house or front yard, the most effective point to enter the sewer main is from the central bathroom of the home. The toilet must be removed in order for this to be effective.
  • If rodding does not restore service, the sewer will have to be excavated and repaired or replaced. Prior to the commencement of any work, the homeowner must obtain a permit from the City of Elgin. An inspection is also required prior to filling the dirt back in the hole after completion of the repair or replacement.

Filing a Damage Claim

For information on filing a damage claim related to a sewer back up, please contact 311 (or 847-931-6001).