The sanitary sewer system is comprised of underground pipes that carry sewage and grey water from toilets, showers, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines and other home or business plumbing components to a wastewater treatment plant, where it is filtered, treated and discharged. The water produced inside a building is used in part to help transport other solids through the sanitary sewer. Solids, such as toilet paper and ground up food from sinks equipped with a garbage disposal, are easily handled by the sanitary sewers.
Other solids, such as grease and rags, can also make their way into the sanitary sewer and are common sources of blockages that in turn, reduce capacity of the sanitary sewer and can cause basement backups.
Toilet paper is designed to break down when exposed to water. While they are often marked as flushable, baby wipes and other disposable wipes don’t break down quickly or as easily as claimed. These rags can get caught on roots, deposits, jagged pipe edges, or other areas of the sewer. As they accumulate, they cause a flow restriction and over time can cause a complete blockage.
While it might be tempting to dispose of hot grease and oils produced from cooking by dumping them in the sink, these materials turn solid as they cool and attach to the walls of the pipes. Over time, the build-up of grease reduces the sewer’s capacity and can cause overflows or basement backups.
In both instances, homeowners should enlist the services of a plumber to remove any buildup or blockage. Better yet, you can prevent these issues from occurring in the first place by properly disposing of wipes and cooking grease in the trash.
The City has staff dedicated to ensuring that the public sewers are open and flowing. Reach out to the Upper Arlington Engineering Division, at 614-583-5360 if you have questions.