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Sewer Backups

Sewer back-up help

Contact the City if you experience a sewer back-up in your home from toilets, sinks or floor drains.

  • Call 503-618-2626 during business hours.
  • Call 503-661-3906 during evenings, weekends or holidays.

The City will respond immediately to protect public health and provide limited preliminary clean-up.

  • Information will be provided related to the cause of the back-up and clean-up.
  • Gresham utility customers are responsible for sewer back-ups caused in the private sewer lines.
  • If the blockage is within the public sewer system, the City will cover the clean-up.


What not to flush or pour down the drain:

  • Wipes of any kind. Baby wipes, hand wipes, cleaning wipes, etc. Wipes may say “disposable or flushable,” but they don’t dissolve and can clog the sewer system.
  • Paper towels are thick and absorbent and can lead to clogs.
  • Hair can bind things together and create clogs.
  • Tampons and sanitary pads expand and absorb liquid and can build up over time to create clogs.
  • Fats, oils and grease.
  • Medication.
  • Any other objects and toxic chemicals.

Take action

  • Place rags over the back-up to stop the flow.
  • Secure the rags in place with a sandbag, kitty litter, etc.
  • Wash hands and all body parts with soap and water that came into contact with sewage.
  • Evacuate all people and pets. Any contact with untreated sewage is potentially harmful.
  • Call your insurance agent to determine if your losses may be covered.
  • Arrange for cleanup.
  • Assess damage. Itemize and document damage to property, structures and belongings.

Sewer back-up causes

  • Pipe failure
  • Blockages from grease, rocks, roots, toys and other foreign objects
  • Excessive flows that exceed system capacity, typically from excessive rainfall
  • Damage by contractors
  • Power or mechanical failures at sewer pump stations
  • Settlement or movement of the soil next to a pipe

Backwater valve protection

A backwater valve attaches to the sewer discharge pipe to prevent sewer from flowing back into a building or onto the property.

  • These valves help reverse sewage flow.
  • Instead of sewage flowing back into your house, the valve closes if backwater is detected.
  • Properties at a lower elevation than the nearest manhole in the street are typically at greater risk for sewage backups, if a backwater valve is not installed.

Oregon State Plumbing Code requires installing a backwater valve at applicable properties.

Sewer backup brochure

Contact us

For more information contact Jeff Loftin at 503-618-2669.