PUBLIC WORKS UNDERGROUND UTILITIES DIVISION
SANITARY SEWER PROBLEMS
Contact Public Works at 963-0500, extension 7022 or 7011, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to report sewer problems or for additional information. After hours, please call the Police Department non-emergency number at 255-2416 to report sewer problems.
Sanitary Sewer Backups:
Always call the City prior to calling a plumber when you experience a sanitary sewer backup or when you feel that the problem may be caused outside of the home. A Public Works Department representative will be dispatched to check the main sanitary sewer line at no cost to you. Representatives are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week including weekends and holidays (after hours call 847-255-2416). This information will be useful to you if you need to call a plumber. If the plumber can't make it all the way to the City main sewer line, and the blockage is in the right-of-way (parkway, street, or easement) call the City immediately, before the plumber removes his sewer rod from the sanitary sewer service line.
Heavy Rainfall Sanitary Sewer Backups:
Call the City at the time you're having a problem so we can check the sanitary sewer system. We need to know when and where these backups occur so we can analyze the area to determine if we can reasonably reduce future occurrences. During periods of prolonged heavy rainfalls, it is common to experience slower moving drains until the system catches up.
When Calling For A Plumber:
There are several choices of plumbers. It's a good idea to get price quotes from more than one (1) plumber so you can compare the rates. Keep in mind that most plumbers will charge extra for nights, weekends, and holidays. Ask the plumber if his work is guaranteed and for how long. Let the plumber know if you have any large trees over your sanitary service line and any history of sanitary sewer problems. If you have a long sanitary service line (100' or more) you need to ask the plumber if his equipment will be adequate to rod the service line especially if tree roots are involved. The plumber must rod from the house all the way to the sanitary sewer main, and from the clean-out going into the house to clean the service line. To effectively clean the sanitary sewer service line, the plumber should use a minimum of 4" to 6" expanding cutting bit.
The customer is responsible for all normal maintenance of the sanitary sewer service line on private property as well as in the City right-of-way.
Question: What does normal maintenance mean?
Answer: Normal maintenance is the removal of materials that are flushed or dropped/inserted down the sanitary service line (including toys, baby diapers, etc.), construction debris, and tree roots (that require less than two roddings per year by an experienced/licensed plumber that is in the right-of-way/easement). All problems on private property are the sole responsibility of the customer. If the plumber is unable to restore service and feels that the blockage is in the right-of-way, the customer needs to contact the Public Works Department while the plumber is still on site, and a representative will be dispatched immediately. If the blockage is determined to be in the right-of-way and the plumber can't get through, the City will determine whether another plumber will be contacted or an excavation will be initiated.
Tree Roots vs. Sanitary Sewer Lines
Root Growth in Pipes:
Roots require oxygen to grow, they do not grow in pipes that are full of water or where high ground water conditions prevail. Roots thrive in the warm, moist nutrient rich atmosphere above the water surface inside sanitary sewers.
The flow of warm water inside the sanitary sewer service pipe causes water vapor to escape to the cold soil surrounding the pipe. Tree roots are attached to the water vapor leaving the pipe and they follow the vapor trail to the source of the moisture, which are usually cracks or loose joints in the sewer pipe.
Upon reaching the crack or pipe joint, tree routes will penetrate the opening to reach the nutrients and moisture inside the pipe. This phenomenon continues in winter even though trees appear to be dormant.
Problems Caused by Roots Inside Sewers:
Once inside the pipe, roots will continue to grow and if not disturbed, they will completely fill the pipe with multiple hairlike root masses at each point of entry. The root mass inside the pipe becomes matted with grease, tissue paper, and other debris discharged from the residence or business.
Homeowners will notice the first signs of a slow flowing drainage system by hearing gurgling noises from toilet bowls and observing wet areas around floor drains when completing the laundry. A complete blockage will occur if no remedial action is taken to remove the roots/blockage.
As roots continue to grow, they expand and exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint where they entered the pipe. The force exerted by the root growth will break the pipe and may result in total collapse of the pipe. Severe root intrusion and pipes that are structurally damaged, will require replacement.
Tree Roots in Sewers:
Tree roots growing inside sewer pipes are generally the most expensive sewer maintenance item experienced by City residents. Roots from trees growing on private property and on parkways throughout the City are responsible for many of the sanitary sewer service backups and damaged sewer pipes.
Home owners should be aware of the location of their sewer service and refrain from planting certain types of trees and hedges near the sewer liners. The replacement cost of a sanitary sewer service line as a result of damage from tree roots may vary from $1000 to $5000.
Susceptible Pipes to Root Damage:
Some pipe materials are more resistant to root intrusion than others. Clay tile pipe, that was commonly installed by developers and private contractors until the late 1980's, was easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. Concrete pipe and no-corrode pipe may also allow root intrusions to a lesser extent than clay tile pipe.
PVC pipe is more resistant to root intrusion because it usually has fewer joints. The tightly fitting PVC joints are less likely to leak as a result of settlement of backfill around the pipe.
Types of Trees Responsible:
Various species of trees have different water requirements. Trees that have high water demand characteristics have root systems capable of following water vapor escaping from leaking pipes and will exploit the source inside the pipe. The top six species of trees to exploit the moisture inside sewer pipes are listed in order below:
Other trees and woody shrubs commonly associated with sewer root problems are: Maple, Cottonwood, Russian Olive, Apple, Pear, Lilac Honeysuckle and Chokecherry.
During drought conditions and in winter, tree roots travel long distances in search of moisture. As a general rule, tree roots will extend up to 2.5 times the height of the tree, and some species of trees may have roots extending five to seven times the height of the tree.
Root Growth Control:
The common method of removing roots from sanitary sewer service pipes involves the use of augers, root saws, and high pressure flushers. These tools are useful in releasing blockages in an emergency, however, cutting and tearing of roots encourages new growth. The effect is the same as pruning a hedge to promote faster, thicker, and stronger regrowth. Roots removed by auguring are normally just a small fraction of the roots inside the pipe.
To augment the cutting and auguring methods, there are products available commercially that will kill the roots inside the pipe without harming the tree. The use of products such as copper sulphate and sodium hydroxide are not recommended because of negative environmental impacts on the downstream receiving water. Also, these products may kill the roots but they do not inhibit regrowth.
The more modern method used throughout Canada and the United States for controlling root growth involves the use of a herbicide mixed with water and a foaming agent. The foam mixture is pumped into the sewer pipe to kill any roots that come into contact with the mixture. New root growth will be inhibited from three to five years after the treatment according to the manufactures.
A television inspection of the pipe to determine the extent of the root damage before the treatment application is recommended. Consult the yellow pages under the heading of "Sewer Service" for further information on companies that perform television inspections of pipes and root control, and what costs may be incurred.
The City of Rolling Meadows Public Works Underground Utilities Division also owns a televising camera and will provide inspections after the work is performed for no cost to the resident.
The City's Sanitary Sewer Maintenance Program:
The City's Underground Utility Maintenance Division will continue to televise the City's main sanitary lines throughout the year. In the event that a problem is discovered with a residentís sanitary service line (lateral) at the point of connection, the City will advise the resident with a form stating what the problem is and what course of action to take to remedy the problem.
Typical Spot Lining Procedure
The City of Rolling Meadows Public Works Department will continue with its ongoing Sewer System Rehabilitation Program which consists of televising main sewer lines to determine methods most cost effective for making a repair. These may include manhole to manhole lining, spot lining, manhole spray lining or excavation repair.
Spot Lining of main sanitary pipes that are in need of repairs throughout the city. Is a method of choice because it eliminates the need to excavate driveways or parkways to make the repairs, and eliminates the inconveniences typically caused by excavating. The graphic depicts the Spot Lining procedure which will be performed by an outside contractor. In cases where manhole to manhole segments have more than 3 defects it is more cost effective to line the entire segment.
Spray Lining of a number of manholes throughout the city is a procedure that requires no excavating and in most cases, residents won't even notice that the crew has done any work. This will keep manholes structurally strong for another 50 years.
Typical Spray Lining Procedure
The City of Rolling Meadows would like to acknowledge the City of Naperville for some of the information contained in this section.