Sewer Backup FAQs
A: The property owner is fully responsible for maintaining adequate sewage flow to and through the sewer lateral, from the property structure to and into the City’s sewer main. When failure or stoppage of a sewer lateral occurs, an employee from the Department of Public Works will respond only to check the sewer main to verify that the main is open and sewage is flowing. If the sewer main is found to be clear, it is the responsibility of the property owner to call a licensed plumber or drain cleaning service to correct the problem. Verbal assistance and answers to questions can be received by calling the Department of Public Works at (973) 857-4804.
A: If you notice a foreign substance flowing into a storm drain inlet, please call the Department of Public Works at (973) 857-4804.
A: If you experience a sewer backup, call the Township of Verona Public Works Department at (973) 857-4804. We will dispatch a maintenance crew to your address to determine if the stoppage is in the City main or your sewer lateral. If the City main is found to be clear, it is the responsibility of the property owner to call a plumber or sewer/drain cleaning service to correct the problem. The property owner is responsible for maintaining adequate flow to and through the sewer lateral from the property structure to and into the City sewer main. If the blockage is in the City main, we will fix it as quickly as possible and keep you informed about what work is being done.
A: A sewer backup can lead to disease, destruction of personal items, damage to your house, and electrical malfunctions. The following steps should be followed to help minimize the inconvenience and damage associated with the sewer backup.
Take before‐and‐after photos of the affected areas
Itemize any property losses
Wet‐vacuum or remove spillage
Mop the floors and wipe walls with soap and disinfectant
Flush out and disinfect plumbing fixtures
Steam clean or remove carpet and drapes
Repair or remove wallboard or wall covering
Clean up appliances or ductwork.
A: All homes and businesses connected to sanitary sewer systems have a lateral. It's the pipe that transports water used inside your home out to your city's sanitary sewer system in the street (see the pipe highlighted in the picture below).
Just like roofs and driveways, maintaining a lateral is the homeowners responsibility. Some communities require homeowners to repair and maintain laterals from the house out to around the sidewalk or tree lawn, what's known as the right of way. In other communities, homeowners own the lateral from the house all the way to where it connects to the city's sewer system in the street. Check with your city to find out.
A: Laterals are only supposed to carry water you use in your house out to the city's sanitary sewer pipe. Cracks and leaks in laterals end up allowing too much excess ground water into city owned pipes, which can overwhelm the overall sewer system and cause stormwater and wastewater to backup in the sewer system and into people's basements.
A: If you have ever had to call a plumber to unclog your lateral, you most likely have a leaky lateral. Tree roots are always seeking water and end up growing through cracks in laterals. The roots end up accumulating things that are flushed or poured down the drains in your home, leading to a clogged pipe. You can tell when your lateral is clogged when water backs up into your basement during dry weather. It's the water you used in the home that cannot get out the lateral to the city's sanitary sewer in the street. You can also check for leaks and cracks by having a plumbing company run a television camera through your lateral. You will be able to see any major problems right away. Identifying smaller cracks may require soaking your front lawn with water and an environmentally friendly green dye. When the camera views green water in the lateral, you know there are leaks in the pipe.
A: You should have your lateral inspected every five to ten years, depending on the age of your home. Newer laterals are made out of PVC, a high-strength plastic that is slightly flexible. PVC pipes for home laterals come in 10 foot lengths and have long lasting, water-tight joints if installed properly. Plumbers started installing PVC laterals in Wisconsin in the 1970's.
Older laterals may be made out of clay pipes that were typically installed in two foot sections. Joints and cracks on clay pipes tend to fail over time, allowing large gaps to permit excess water into the sanitary sewer system.
A: If it's not raining and you get water backing up into your basement through the floor drain, there's a good chance you have a clogged lateral. The water that you used inside your home cannot get through the lateral and empty into the city's sewer out in the street.
Even if it is raining and you have water coming through the floor drain, you could still have a clogged lateral that needs to be cleaned out. When basement backups occur because of capacity issues in the sanitary sewer system, they usually impact more than one home on the block. Contact your city or village department of public works right away so they can check to see if there are any problems with the public sewer out in the street.
A: There are many newer repair techniques that do not require digging a large trench in your front yard. However, laterals in substantial disrepair may require digging a trench to install a new pipe from the street to the foundation of your home.