Preventing Backups and Overflows


Sewers are designed to dispose of very specific things. Using a toilet or kitchen drain for disposal of non-biodegradable products will often result in home or county sanitary sewer system blockages. The drain lines that connect your home to the county sanitary sewer in the street are only big enough to carry water, toilet paper and human waste. Never flush anything down the toilet other than human waste and toilet paper.

Prevent Backups:

Do Not Flush:

Try to limit or eliminate your garbage disposal use. Consider composting your food waste items.

What Can Be Flushed?

  • Only toilet paper and human waste 

What Can Be Poured Down a Drain?

  • Household ammonia-based cleaners, drain cleaners and most bathroom cleaners can be poured down the drain inside your home. NEVER pour products down storm drains.

How to Dispose of Hazardous Waste:

Roots

Shrubs and tree roots, seeking moisture, will make their way into open sewer joints and sewer line cracks. Over time, roots cause your sewer line to break, which allows debris to accumulate and cause 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 trees and greenery around your sewer pipe. If you have continuing problems with tree roots in your lateral, you may have to have them cut periodically by a plumber. If you have a plumber clean roots out of your sewer lateral, please call the 24-hour Trouble Response Center so that we can also clean out the county sewer main line.

Illegal Plumbing Connections

Do not connect sump pumps, downspouts, French drains and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer; it is illegal, and debris and silt can clog your private sewer lateral. Consult a plumber to correct any illegal connections.

Install a Backwater Prevention Valve

A backwater valve is a fixture installed into a private sewer line to prevent sewer backflows. A properly installed and maintained backwater valve allows sewage to leave the building but not to come back in. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of backwater valves. Check with a qualified plumber.

Prevent Overflows

  • Do not connect sump pumps, downspouts, French drains and other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer as it is illegal. The water can overload the sewer system causing it to overflow raw sewage into streams, streets or basements.
  • Check your sewer cleanout. Make sure the cap is on and has not been damaged. Replace missing caps.
  • Avoid pouring grease down your sink. As the grease cools off, it will solidify either in the drain, the property owner’s lateral or the county sewer causing the line to clog. Collect kitchen grease in a container and dispose of it in the garbage.
  • Avoid planting trees and shrubs above or near sanitary sewer lines. Roots can enter and clog sewers, causing them to back up and overflow.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

ADA Accessibility | Website Accessibility
Awards | FOIA | Mobile | Using this Site | Web Disclaimer & Privacy Policy | Get Adobe Reader
Official site of the County of Fairfax, Virginia, © Copyright 2013

Website Feedback Website Feedback    Globe with various flags representing Web site language translations   Language Translations

Return to Graphic Version