Preventing Sewer Backups

Header Image
Sewer Banner_6-14-17.jpg

Sewers are designed to dispose of very specific things. Using your toilet for disposal of many modern products, such as wipes, will often result in blockages. The drains that connect your home to the main sewer are only about four inches wide -  designed only to carry water, toilet paper and human waste.

Homeowners are responsible for issues that occur in their sewer pipes. To help protect your plumbing from clogs, backups, and other problems, below are a few tips.

What not to flush down your toilet:

  • Baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, and so-called "flushable" wipes
  • Diapers
  • Facial tissues
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Condoms
  • Toilet bowl scrub pads or “Swiffer” type pads
  • Wash cloths, towels, rags, clothing or any cloth items
  • Dental floss
  • Sheet plastic or plastic of any kind
  • Egg shells, nutshells, coffee grounds or any food items
  • Fats, oils or grease
  • Hair

The most common causes of sewer back-ups are grease, disposable wipes and roots in the sewer line.

Recycle food scraps to prevent sewage backups.

To help prevent future sewer back-ups:

  • Stop using the kitchen sink and garbage disposal for grease and food scraps. Vegetable and meat scraps, salad dressing, rice, butter, cooking oils, and many other foods quickly deposit grease and solids that can build up in pipes over time and eventually block a sewer line.
  • Instead of putting food waste into a garbage disposal, use a paper towel or spatula to remove food waste from plates and pans into your yard waste container. Bellevue residents can get started food scrap recycling with a free kitchen food waste container by calling your solid waste provider, Republic Services, at 425-452-4762. Keep the mess down by using compostable bags in your container. Get a free sample from King County by taking the Compost More, Waste Less Pledge.
  • Let fats, oils, and grease from cooking solidify in a container on the counter or in the refrigerator before placing them into the garbage.
  • Know where your sewer line is located. Call the Bellevue Utilities at 425-452-4187 if you are not sure. Although the city does not perform locates on private property, we will provide whatever information is available. Do not plant trees and shrubs near the sewer line. Roots often creep into the sewer pipe and over time cause a blockage. If trees or shrubs have caused a problem in the past, remove them.
  • Don’t waste money on "miracle" root killers, which rarely work. Roots typically enter the top part of the pipe. Chemicals sit on the bottom.