Sewer blockages usually occur when there is something stopping the flow of wastewater in the sewer pipes.
Common causes of blockages include:
- tree roots
- fat, oil and grease build up
- food scraps washed down the sink
- objects flushed down the toilet.
When a blockage occurs, you may notice:
- a build up in the toilet bowl when you flush
- water not draining properly from your sink, shower or bath
- sewage rising up through the inspection shaft or overflow relief gully in your yard
- a smell inside your home.
What to do
If you think you have a sewer blockage, you should first check the inspection shaft or overflow relief gully. These are usually located in your backyard near the laundry, kitchen or bathroom.
The overflow relief gully (ORG) is a vertical pipe with an open vent. The inspection shaft (IS) is a vertical pipe set in concrete with a lid marked "IS". Some older homes may not have an IS.
- Locate the IS and ORG. The IS is usually found near your property boundary, while the ORG is usually located in your backyard near the laundry, kitchen or bathroom.
- Lift the lid of the IS, unscrew the plastic cap and check the water level. The lid can be heavy, so be careful and ask for help.
- Check the ORG to see if there is any signs of a spill.
If water is continuously overflowing from the IS or ORG when no water is being used in your house, call Western Water. We will inspect the problem and repair it at our cost if the blockage is in our sewer pipes.
If water is overflowing from the IS or ORG only when taps, toilets or showers are being used in your house, call a plumber. The blockage is likely to be in your internal pipes and will need to be repaired at your expense.
If your plumber finds the problem is in Western Water's pipes, they will need to contact us. We will inspect the problem and repair it at our cost if the blockage is in our sewer pipes.
Locating sewer pipes
Property sewer plans provide a record of where sewerage drains are located on your property. You can request a copy of your property sewer plan from Western Water.
Sewer blockages are costly and can cause spills that harm the environment. Find out more.