How can I prevent a backup?

Fats BackupA sewer lateral pouring illicit FOG into a sanitary manhole. The shiny white is new grease. The yellow areas are from the buildup of old grease.

  • The only items that should ever be washed down the sink or flushed down the toilet are natural, organic materials that would break apart easily in one's hands.
  • Here are some examples of things that should not go in the sanitary sewer:
    • Never pour fats, oils, or grease (FOG) down the drain, even if they are liquid at room temperature.
    • Never flush wet wipes, diapers, sanitary napkins, tampons, paper towels, cardboard, or cloth. Even the wipes labeled "flushable" build up in pipes, causing blockages.
    • Use garbage disposals sparingly or not at all. If your disposal is used make sure you flush the sewer lines thoroughly.
    • Dispose of medicine, paint, pesticides, and other hazardous materials in accordance with Salem's solid waste disposal policies.
  • Remove trees and woody plants from around the sewer lateral.
  • Reduce I and I.
  • Know if your home is located in the flood plain. Homes that are subject to flooding are also more likely to experience a backup.
  • Install a sewer backwater valve or backflow prevention valve.
    • If approved by the Director of the Water Department, the City will reimburse up to $750 towards installation of this valve. Contact the Water and Sewer Department 540-375-3029 for more information.
    • The valve should be placed outside the home on the property owner's lateral. The valve can optionally be placed in a home basement, however, this is much more expensive to install if concrete needs to be removed for the installation.
    • The valve requires maintenance by the owner for proper functionality.
    • It should be noted that installation of a sewer backwater valve does not guarantee a backup will not occur at your home.
  • Consider adding a sewer back-up rider to your homeowner insurance policy.

Show All Answers

1. What do I do if I have a backup?
2. How can I prevent a backup?
3. What can I do about overflows?