Wet Weather Sewer Back-Up

One of the most frustrating experiences for homeowners is basement flooding due to sewer back- ups during major rain events. What most homeowners do not realize is that they and their neighbors could be contributing to the cause of the back-ups. The major cause of wet weather sewer back-ups is storm water that finds its way into the sanitary sewer system.


Inflow is water that is dumped into the sanitary sewer system through improper connections such as: 

  • Area drains
  • Downspouts
  • Foundation drainage systems
  • Sump pumps


Infiltration refers to ground water that seeps into cracks in underground pipes (caused by shifted joints, age or tree roots that have grown into the pipe), and storm water that enters through sump pumps or house foundation drains that are connected to the sanitary sewer.

Storm Water

Storm water is usually collected and transported through a separate storm sewer system; the sanitary sewer system is meant for waste discharge only. During rains, storm water will find its way into the sanitary sewer system through any opening it can find, including cracks in the pipes and direct connections from plumbing in the home.

The EPA outlawed storm water connections into sanitary sewer systems in the early 1970’s. However, many homes built prior to 1970 routinely have downspouts, sump pumps, area or patio drains, and foundation drains tied to the sanitary sewer system. Engineering studies conclude that many illegal connections remain. The City and NEORSD continue to inspect and require disconnection of these illegal storm connections.

What Residents Can Do

Residents are urged to do their part by having an inspection of their inside plumbing to see if there are any improper connections to the sanitary sewer system. Downspouts that are piped underground may be connected to the sanitary sewer. Your storm sump should discharge through a pipe in your foundation wall to the outside of your home. 

Area and patio drains should outlet to a storm sewer. If in doubt, contact the Engineering Department at 440-826-5814 to schedule an inspection and or test to determine where your drain discharges. Should you find an improper connection, a registered plumber should be contacted to correct the situation.

With a little knowledge and effort, City residents can help reduce the risk of basement flooding and take important steps to protect their home, property and possessions.