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The best ways to avoid sewer line backups

Article Published 01/28/2015

One of the worst possible house disasters to deal with is a sewer line backup. However, there are some simple things that homeowners can do to lessen the likelihood of a major sewer problem.
Not putting waste in the sewer that can lead to a backup is paramount, according to Layton City Public Works employees who regularly maintain Layton’s sewer lines. Do not put grease, egg shells, baby wipes or paper towels into the sewer system – even if you put egg shells, or grease through your kitchen disposal first. Those four items cause the greatest problems. (And, there are other items that should not go into the sewer system, see more below.)
In addition, having large trees in the yard, near the sewer line lateral into the home, means there’s a chance trees roots can encroach on the line. “ It would be wise to avoid planting trees that may interfere with the sewer laterals, or any other type of structure that may need to be removed to repair the line if it were to become inoperable,” Steve Lamb, Collections Systems Inspector for the North Davis Sewer District, said.
Some of Layton’s oldest neighborhoods are at risk for backups, because the lateral piping into homes is not only old, but may also be made of tile, or pipe wrapped with tar paper. These lines may eventually erode or collapse.
Layton City has several sewer line maintenance trucks, which travel about the City inspecting for clogs in the sewer lines under City streets. If an obstruction is discovered, equipment with a camera can also be sent back to closely inspect the problem. Some city trucks are also equipped with vacuum systems.
Since Layton City is so large, the City also contracts out with private companies to aid with its sewer maintenance work.  
Sometimes while inspecting sewer lines under the street, crews may also find a problem with the lateral line to a home. If so, the homeowner may be notified in advance of a sewer problem. Homeowners and businesses are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the lateral lines that come off the City’s sewer lines. 
According to FEMA.gov, homeowners will likely need special sewer back up insurance, which may be necessary to cover damages that occurred where no surface water flooding also occurred. 
Sewer backup insurance is available on most homeowners and commercial policies, usually as an additional rider. There is a limit on coverage and a separate deductible.
Average policy coverage of $5,000-$10,000 costs in the range of $75-$150 per year. Homeowners should check with their insurance agent on extra coverage. 
The main sewer trunk lines are maintained by the North Davis  Sewer District. Here’s a reminder on things that should NEVER be flushed, or sent down the drain, according to the North Davis Sewer District:
• Paints and Solvents
• Gasoline or Combustible Fuels
• Toxic Chemicals
• Antifreeze
• Medicines and Pharmaceuticals
• Fats, Oils, and Greases
• Baby Wipes
• Needles and Razor Blades
• Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fertilizers
• Poisons including Rat/Mice Bait
-Other things that you should avoid sending through the sewer include:
• Large amounts of food waste through the disposal. Fats and oils aren’t just bad for arteries or one’s waistline – they can clog sewers too. Never send grease, meat fats, lard, oil, shortening, butter, margarine, food scraps, baked goods, sauces and dairy products down the drain, or flush in a toilet – Put them in a trash can instead.
• Substances or objects that could plug a line and cause backups.  Also, do not flush medications down the toilet. For how to properly dispose of drugs, visit:
http://www.useonlyasdirected.org/drop-off-locator/
• For more information on how to properly dispose of household products, please visit:
http://www.wef.org/AboutWater/ForThePublic/FactSheets/FactSheetDocuments/HouseholdWaste.htm