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Home Backups and Backflows Your Sewer Connection Is Your Home at Risk? Emergency Instructions Prevention Tips Contact us

Is your home at risk?

Here's how to determine if you are at risk of a sewer backup.

Your home is at risk if, at its lowest level, your home is not at least one foot above the nearest upstream manhole of the sewer main.

In this 
									photo, the gray house is at risk. The pink house may be at risk if it 
									has a floor drain in the garage. Most likely, the house on the left is 
									not at risk. In this photo, the gray house is at risk. The pink house may be at risk if it has a floor drain in the garage. Most likely, the house on the left is not at risk.

People who live in hilly areas, especially those on the downside of the street are most at risk.

The following step-by-step directions can help you find your sewer lateral cleanout, your sewer lateral, the sewer main and the next upstream manhole.

Where's my lateral?

1. First of all go to the curb and look for an "s" stamped into the concrete.

S stamped in curb

It's sometimes painted green. If you can't find one, look around your property line for something marked "sewer." This may look like a smaller manhole. This is where your curb cleanout is located.

Small Sewer manhole
img src="images/2-cleanouts384.jpg" width="133" height="200" alt="Two cleanouts">

A cleanout may be close to your home and not at the property line.

Newer or remodeled homes may have two cleanouts. If so, you can draw a line between your cleanouts to see where your lateral crosses your property. This is your upper lateral Why is that important? You don't want to plant a tree right over it or dig very deep over your lateral.

cleanout near house

What if I don't have a cleanout?

You should have one put in, particularly if your home is lower than the street level.

two manholesWhere's the main?

2. Standing on your curb, look out into the street and find the nearest upstream manhole in front of your house.

Connect it to the next nearest manhole so that the dotted line passes in front of your house. The main is located under the street at that dotted line.

finding the lateralWhere does my lateral join the main?

3. You can connect the dots between curb cleanout and the dotted line between manholes in the street. Your lower lateral is not going to connect where the manhole is, but about 5-10 yards straight out from your curb cleanout where it hits the dotted line where the main line passes your property between the manholes.

Your home's upper lateral runs between the two cleanouts. your lower lateral runs from the curb cleanout to where the main runs under the street.

How do I know if my house is at risk?

4. Now that you have located where your lateral joins your sewer main, locate the nearest upstream manhole in the street.

manhole in streetStand on the manhole cover or stand at your house. Does your lowest elevation or basement appear to be equal or at least 1 foot above the manhole? Compare it with the elevation of the manhole. Remember, your lowest drain may be in your garage or basement where you have plumbing.

If the lowest elevation does not appear to be at least 1 foot above the manhole, you may be at risk.

Backflow Prevention Device in cleanoutIf you are unsure, put on a BPD anyway per your local requirements.

If you live in a flat area - you may have difficulty figuring out which direction the sewer flows. You can ask your plumber or call your sewer or sanitation district, located in the phone book under Government listings for wastewater utility services.
house on flat street


If your home was built or remodeled after 1962, local building codes require that your sewer system has a cleanout and a backflow prevention device (also called a sewer relief device).
Backflow Prevention Device in cleanout