Call the 24-hour Trouble Response Center: 703-323-1211 | TTY 711.
Always call the county prior to calling a plumber when you experience a sanitary sewer backup and you feel that the problem is in the county sewer main line.
If the backup occurs only when facilities (such as toilet, tub, washer or sinks) are used, it is possible that you need a plumber.
If you have sewage backing up when you are not using any of your facilities, it is possible that there is a problem in the county main line. A Wastewater Collection Division representative will be dispatched to check the county sanitary sewer line.
If the county line is operating normally, indications are that your private building sewer lateral is the cause of the sewer backup, and you will be advised to contact a plumber. In Fairfax County, maintaining a private lateral line is the property owner’s responsibility (see Chapter 65-6-1 of the County Code).
To minimize property damage, immediately close all drain openings with stoppers or plugs. Keep in mind that ceramic plumbing fixtures are fragile. Tub, sink and floor drains may need additional weight to keep them sealed. Do not run any water down your drains until the blockage has been cleared.
Check your insurance policy to determine if damages related to sewage backups or water damages are covered. This type of coverage may be an optional coverage and can generally be added to a policy if requested. The cost for this optional coverage is inexpensive, and it is advised that property owners with below grade fixtures investigate this coverage.
At the first sign of malfunctioning or damaged sewer lines, call the 24-Hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY 711. A Trouble Response inspector from the Wastewater Collection Division will inspect the county sewer.
If the problem is in the county sewer, the county will take corrective action.
The resident or building owner is responsible for resolving problems or damages resulting from blockages in the service line. This extends from the home/business to the county sewer, including the connection to the sewer. Contact your insurance carrier for information about sewer backup insurance, which is normally available at reasonable rates.
Sanitary Sewer Overflow
Report a sanitary sewer overflow – raw untreated sewage that discharges from the sanitary sewer system – to our 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY 711. Avoid contact with overflow discharges, and make sure that people are kept away from the area of overflow, especially children.
Overflows pose a substantial health risk as raw sewage can carry bacteria, viruses, molds and fungi. Sanitary sewer overflows can also cause poor water quality in lakes, rivers, streams, and pollute groundwater, and they can cause economic damage by hurting water-dependent businesses such as fishing and tourism.
Typical signs of an overflow include:
Water flowing from manholes
Toilet paper or other “flushables” visible on the ground
Contact 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY 711, immediately.
Sanitary Sewer Odor Complaint
If you have a sewer odor in your home, first look for the source in the bathrooms, kitchen or basement. Pour a gallon of water down the drains and sinks that are not used often. You can also pour a household disinfectant in all drains. If this does not solve the problem, contact the 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY 711.
If you detect an odor outside your home, contact the 24-hour Trouble Response Center immediately at 703-323-1211 | TTY 711.
If you have an odor complaint and you are located in the vicinity of the Noman M. Cole Jr., Pollution Control Plant in Lorton, Va., please call 703-550-9740, extension 278, TTY711, between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. After 4:30 p.m., please call the 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY 711.
To prevent odors:
Keep water in all plumbing traps. Water should be added regularly to plumbing fixtures, especially any seldom used sinks, toilets or floor drains that may have dried out. Sewer gas and odors could enter your home or business if any plumbing fixtures have not been used in a while and the water in the water-sealed traps has evaporated.
Keep vents open. If all the traps are full of water and there is still an odor, the problem could be in the vent that carries sewer gas out of the house through the roof. Vents that have become plugged by leaves or bird’s nests can cause sewer gas to back up into the home or business.
Missing Manhole Cover: Immediately contact the Wastewater Collection Division 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY 711. A missing manhole cover may create a safety problem.
Noisy Manhole or Noisy Manhole Cover: Contact the Wastewater Collection Division 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY711.
Vandalism: This usually involves an unauthorized person removing a manhole cover and dropping objects into the manhole and obstructing the sewage flow, which can result in a backup into a building or sanitary sewer overflow. If you notice tampering with a manhole cover, please contact the 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY711, immediately.
A cave-in or sinkhole is a depression in the roadway which may be above a county sanitary sewer line. Report cave-ins/sinkholes to the 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY711.
Miss Utility of Virginia® is the free “one call” Virginia information exchange center for excavators, contractors, and property owners planning any kind of excavation or digging. The Miss Utility center notifies participating utilities of the upcoming excavation work so they can locate and mark their underground facilities in advance to prevent possible damage to underground utility lines, injury, property damage, and service outages.
The Wastewater Collection Division’s Miss Utility section is responsible for locating and marking Fairfax County-owned and operated sanitary sewer-main lines in accordance with the Virginia Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act. The staff reviews, researches and processes over 180,000 locate requests annually. Please note, the Wastewater Collection Division is responsible for marking Fairfax County sanitary sewer-main lines and has no responsibility for marking storm sewer lines.
Call Miss Utility at 1-800-552-7001 or 811, TTY 711, or visit the Miss Utility® website for more information.
Grinder Pump Issues
Contact 24-hour Trouble Response Center at 703-323-1211 | TTY711, if you experience a problem with a grinder pump.
Low pressure sewer systems use grinder pumps to grind the sewage from your home (much like a garbage disposal in your kitchen) and pump the sewage through small pipes to the Wastewater Collection System. Low pressure systems are sometimes used in areas which cannot be served by gravity pipes.
The grinder pump can handle any wastewater that is normally discharged to the sewer from the kitchen, bathroom or laundry. Some chemicals and materials may cause operating problems or safety hazards.
Never put any of the following materials into sinks, toilets or drains:
Glass, metal, wood, seafood shells, diapers, socks, rags or cloth of any kind
Plastic objects (toys, eating utensils, etc.)
Any strong chemicals, toxic, caustic or poisonous substances
Gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil or grease
Antifreeze, lubricating oil or grease
These materials can damage the grinder pump, cause blockages or may create hazardous conditions in your home.
Wastewater is conveyed to one of six regional treatment facilities through several service agreements. Fairfax County’s wastewater treatment plant treats about 40 percent of the wastewater flowing through the system each day.
Our advanced wastewater treatment plant treats approximately 40 million gallons of wastewater every day. The effluent, or discharged treated water, consistently meets strict federal and state water quality requirements.
The Noman M. Cole Jr. Pollution Control Plant offers tours of its wastewater treatment facility to the public March through November. Tours take approximately two and a half hours and include a half-hour presentation followed by a facility tour.
Temporarily suspended and will resume in spring 2024
Wastewater follows a different path than stormwater runoff, which flows directly into nearby waterways. A separate network of underground pipes conveys used water from homes and businesses to wastewater treatment plants. The treated water is then released into a nearby waterway.
View the various treatment processes used at the Noman M. Cole, Jr., Pollution Control Plant and how each step helps move our water one step closer to final treated wastewater that can be returned to local rivers and streams.
The Sewer Certification Report, prepared in accordance with Fairfax County's bond resolution, confirms that the Fairfax County Wastewater Management Program is satisfactorily operating and maintaining the County's wastewater system and the Program's budget is sufficient to meet operational, maintenance, debt service and capital "Pay-as-You-Go" (PAYGO) funding needs.