How to Prevent Sewer Back-up

​The City’s sanitary sewer system is the network of underground pipes that carry wastewater from your sinks, toilets, showers, bathtubs, and interior floor drains to the City’s wastewater treatment plant where it is cleaned and treated before discharging into the river.

​Sewer backup

Sewer backups and overflows often occur when people place improper materials such as fats, oils, and grease into the sanitary sewer system. Since fats, oils, and grease are lighter than water, they tend to accumulate at the top and sides of sewer pipes and then build up until a blockage occurs. If a blockage happens, the sewer backs up or overflows, resulting in property and environmental damage.

Sanitary sewer systems are designed to handle three things:

  • Used water
  • Human body waste
  • Toilet paper

You can do some simple things that will help the City protect water quality and maintain the sewer system in Salem.

Actions to help prevent sewer overflows

  • Collect cooking grease in a container and dispose of it in the garbage. Do not pour cooking grease, fats, and oils down the drain.
  • Place food scraps in waste containers or garbage bags for disposal with your weekly garbage collection or place your food scraps in a compost pile. Do not dispose of food scraps down your sink drain.
  • Place a wastebasket in the bathroom to dispose of garbage.

These suggestions can save you money. Most sewer backups occur between the house and the City’s sewer main. If there is a blocked sewer service between the house and the City’s sewer main, you are responsible for correcting the problem. When the blockage occurs in the City’s sewer main, the City will correct the problem.