Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between sanitary sewer and storm water sewer lines?
A sanitary sewer pipe is located mainly in the street and is designed to transport wastewater from sanitary fixtures inside your house or place of business to the wastewater treatment plant. Sanitary fixtures include sinks, bathtubs, showers, and washing machines.
A storm sewer pipe is designed to carry rainwater away. Storm sewer lines are normally much larger than sanitary sewer lines because they are designed to carry much larger amounts of water.
What part of the sewer system serving my property is my responsibility to maintain? What is the City's responsibility?
The City is responsible for maintaining its main sewer lines. Private property owners are responsible for the sewer service line. This line starts at the tap on the sewer main, extends across the customer’s property and connects at the home or business.
What preventative maintenance measures does the City of Monroe take to keep sewer lines flowing properly?
The City of Monroe Utilities Division uses the following methods to clean and maintain sanitary sewer main lines:
1. Sewer main lines are washed out routinely or as trouble calls are reported.
2. The City can run a small television camera down the sewer pipe to identify main line cracks and deterioration.
3. Root cutting tools are used to manage tree roots and keep them from creating blockages that can stop sewer flow.
I've heard that every customer served by the City's sewer system will have one or more cleanouts on their property. What is a "clean out" and where is it located?
Clean outs are pipes that connect to your service line and come out of the ground, usually level with the ground. Some cleanouts are not easily accessible if they have been buried due to landscaping or other reasons. It is important for a property owner to know the location of their clean-out for use in an emergency, such as a sewer back up. If necessary, you can call a licensed plumber to locate the clean out on your property.
What should I do if a sewer back up occurs at my home or business?
CALL US FIRST! Immediately call us at 608-329-2590. Even if you suspect the problem may be on your service line, it’s best to call the City first before you call a plumber. Our service crew will check the City’s main lines to either identify and repair the problem or to determine whether or not you need to call a plumber. The City will wash the sewer main line regardless of where the problem exists. This step could save you an unnecessary plumber’s bill!
Can I file a claim against the City for a Backup?
With few exceptions, the City is not liable to homeowners for damages resulting from sewer backups. For this reason, any claim you file resulting from a sewer backup will likely be denied by the City.
What can I do to prevent a sanitary sewer back up in my home or on main lines?
Here are some very important rules to follow to help keep sewer lines flowing:
1. NEVER pour grease down drains or into garbage disposals. The grease will turn into a hard solid that blocks lines and can result in a sewer back up. Let grease cool down and dispose in trash.
2. Putting food down a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink can be convenient method of throwing away leftovers. However, many foods, such as certain vegetables and vegetable skins, have natural oils in them. These food particles can convert into grease in your pipes and sewer service line. Frequent use of a garbage disposal can contribute to blockages in service and main lines.
3. Roots from trees can grow into sewer line joints and obstruct flow. If the City determines that a customer’s service line is blocked by root growth, they must contact a licensed plumber to have the line cleaned from the house to the sewer main. If there are several mature trees and bushes in your yard located near or around where your service line runs, you may want to periodically have the sanitary sewer service line checked and/or cleaned out by a plumber, especially if your toilets, sinks, etc. are experiencing frequent blockages or backups.
4. Being required to unplug or clean sediment from your building sewer every 1-3 years is not unusual. Talk to a plumber for more information.
5. BE ON THE LOOKOUT! If you see an overflowing manhole, detect a sewer odor or observe evidence of sewer on the ground or in a stream, please report this by calling 608-329-2590. With your help, we can keep the lines flowing!
Who is responsible for paying for a sewer backup?
The costs associated with cleaning up a sewer line backup into a building are the responsibility of the building owner unless the City negligently caused the backup. Normal sanitary sewer line maintenance activities by the City does not constitute negligence even if it contributes in some way to a backup, unless the maintenance was done in a negligent manner. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the City will pay claims for costs associated with cleanup, clog removal, plumbing upgrades or other items related to a sewer backup into a private residence. The city strongly encourages homeowners to have a plumber install a backflow preventer and obtain sewer backup insurance if they have not already done so.
Does my homeowners insurance cover sewer backups?
While your individual policy may vary, most homeowners insurance policies do not cover sewer backups unless a rider has been specifically added to your coverage. Many homeowners insurance companies do offer this service as an additional policy rider. Note that Flood Insurance and Sewer Backup Insurance are two completely different policies and that sewer backups are not covered under typical Flood Insurance.
The City of Monroe is working hard to create a more robust sewer cleaning program to prevent major sewer line backups. Our goal is to clean every sewer main in town on a 5 year cycle to flush out clogs and inspect the pipes for damage. This cleaning process itself may cause backups in your home if you do not have a back flow preventer installed.
What can be done to protect my home from future sewer main backups?
The only way for you to protect your home from backups in the sewer main is to install a back flow preventer in your house. These valves prevent sewage from flowing from the mains and back into your house. By installing and properly maintaining a backwater valve you can in nearly all cases prevent sewer backups into your home. Contact a local plumber for more information on how to have one a back flow preventer installed in your building
Where can I get more information?
You can obtain more information on sewer backups by calling the City of Monroe Utilities Division at 608-329-2590.
Information regarding backflow preventers or backwater valves can be found through a licensed plumber or a plumbing supply / hardware store.