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Line Maintenance Sewer Overflows

Many older neighborhoods experience sanitary sewer back-ups into residential basements. Sanitary sewer back-ups and manhole overflows may also occur in newer neighborhoods. Various sources such as rainwater and foreign objects are the more predominant cause of sewer backups.

Residents may assist in reducing the back-up/overflow problems by disconnecting roof and area drains from the sanitary sewer system. Grease and heavy amounts of paper are another cause of sewer problems. Items recovered by sewer workers from the system pipes include toys, sheets, balls, oil cans, soda cans and bottles, bricks, limbs, lawn clippings and much more. A "gurgling" toilet stool may be an indication that a back-up is occurring. Sewer water flowing from stools and drains are also an indication of sewer problems.

In the event of a sewer main back-up, immediately call the Line Maintenance Division of the Utilities Department at 329-0703. After normal business hours, call 321-2182. Do not flush stools, run dishwashers or clothes washers or run water into drains. If sewage is flowing into the residence, it is, in most cases, helpful to remove the cap from the residential service line clean-out located adjacent to the structure.

Sanitary sewage is a health hazard. If you experience a back-up, be very careful to avoid contact with sewer materials, which may carry infectious diseases such as hepatitis and salmonella. If you want professional help in cleaning, look in the Yellow Pages under Carpet Cleaning.



If you do the clean-up yourself:

  • Always use protective gloves and boots.
  • Avoid contact with raw material, and be particularly careful of your face and eyes. Goggles are recommended when you are using a hose.
  • Protect all cuts and scrapes. Immediately wash any wound that comes in contact with sewage.

To clean up after a back-up:

  • Hose down the area, then wash surfaces with hot soapy water.
  • Disinfect surfaces with a 1:10 solution of household bleach and water.

When you are finished:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparing food or eating.
  • Wash and disinfect any clothing and supplies immediately after use.


The City's risk management team generally does not approve claims for damages caused by sewer back-ups. The City Attorney has determined that The City has acted to the best of its ability in protecting private property. Therefore the City is not liable. Should you choose to file a claim, contact the City Clerk's Office at (405) 366-5406.


The City of Norman strongly recommends the installation of one-way check valves on residential service pipes. This apparatus allows flow of wastewater from the residence but prevents any effluent from the sewer main from entering the residence. Residents should contact a licensed plumber for further details.