The property owner can do many thing to prevent his/her line from backing up. Remember too, that the very same things can help to prevent backups in the main sewer line as well. If everyone would be careful about the ways they disposed of certain products, our systems would be more efficient, cause fewer backups, cost less money, and prevent the inconvenience to you.
Subjects that will help you avoid a sewer backup:
Cooking oil should be poured into a heat-resistant container and disposed of, after it cools off, in the garbage can, not the drain. Some people assume that washing grease down the drain with hot water is satisfactory. This grease goes down the drain, cools off, and solidifies either in the drain, the property owner's line, or in the main sewer. When this happens, the line constricts, and eventually clogs.
Paper towels, disposable (and cloth) diapers, and feminine products cause a great deal of problems in the property owner's line as well as in the main. These products do not deteriorate quickly, as does bathroom tissue. They become lodged in portions of the lines where there is an accumulation of any type of debris, and dam up the line, causing sewer backup. These products should also be disposed of in the garbage can.
Shrubs and trees, seeking moisture, will make their way into sewer line cracks. These roots can do a lot of damage. They may start out small, getting into a small crack in the pipe; but as the tree or shrub continues to grow, so does the root. This obviously, after time goes on, causes your sewer line to break, which in turn allows debris to hang up in the sewer line, thus causing a backup. One way to prevent roots from entering your line is to replace your line and tap with new plastic pipe. The other alternative is to be careful about planting greenery around you sewer line, or purchasing a product from your local plumber containing "copper sulfate", which helps to kill roots when you pour it down your drain. These products should be used with extreme caution, following the direction carefully. We suggest that you have the roots cut in your line semi-annually.
Another concern that property owners have is that they can smell sewer odors inside their house or building. There are two ways to prevent this from occurring. Under each drain in your plumbing system, there is a "P-trap". If there is water in this fitting, odors or H2S gas from the sewer cannot come through the drain from either the property owner's line or the City's main. Periodically check to make sure that unused floor drains, sinks, etc. have water in the "P-trap". Another way to prevent sewer odor is to ensure that the vents, which are located on your roof, are free from birds nests, leaves, etc. When these vents are clear, the sewer odors will escape through these vents.
It has come to our attention that some people dispose of hypodermic needles into the sewer system. The presence of these needles in the wastewater collection system presents special and possible deadly problems for the wastewater collection and wastewater treatment employees. Please DO NOT flush needles. The proper method of disposal is to re-cap the needle and put it into a "sharps container". (This could be any rigid plastic container such as a Clorox bottle... no milk bottles, please) When it is full, tape the container securely, and call your local pharmacy for advice on proper disposal methods. PLEASE DO NOT FLUSH THEM OR THROW THEM INTO THE GARBAGE.