• Email
  • Print

Clog Prevention

Sewer backups can be expensive and messy. Keeping sewer pipes clean and operational:

  • Avoids frustrating and unpleasant plumbing clog
  • Protects the ocean
  • Safeguards public health and the environment
  • Prevents expensive plumbing repairs

Causes of Sewer Backups

  • Fat, oil and grease: Washing food, oil and grease down your drain and disposal can lead to grease buildup that can clog sewer lines. Grease buildup that leads to property damage, environmental problems, along with other health hazards. Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out the plumbing system and detergents pass grease down the line and cause problems in other areas.
  • Tree and shrub roots: Invasion of tree and shrub roots into sewer pipes cause nearly half of the city’s pipe overflows each year. Roots search for water and nutrients and can enter pipes through small cracks. Once in the pipe, they can grow rapidly and cut off sewer flow, causing backups into the home or overflows outside of the home.
  • Flushable wipes: Disposable wipes, even flushable ones, can do a number on sewer lines. Throw wipes and towelettes as well as dental floss, feminine hygiene products and paper towels in the trash, and not in toilets. The city has developed a video series, Wipes Clog Pipes, showing what can go wrong when you flush flushable wipes

Tips to Avoid Clogs

Inside the home

  • Scrape food, sauces and oils from plates and pans and into the trash.
  • Put a strainer in the sink drain and empty solids into the trash.
  • Use your garbage disposal sparingly and do not rely on grease cutting detergents to wash away grease.
  • Wipe cooking pan residue with a paper towel and throw it in the trash.
  • Collect small amount of fat, oil and grease into a plastic container such as a milk jug or coffee can or mix with kitty litter, coffee grounds, or shredded newspaper and throw it in the trash.
  • Dispose of larger amounts of used cooking oil responsibly and for free. Call Waste Management at 760-929-9400 or PSC at 800-714-1195 for more information.
  • Throw disposable wipes, dental floss, feminine hygiene products and paper towels in the trash and not in toilets.

Outside the home

  • Have your sewer lateral (pipe to the street) cleaned regularly. Ideally, a lateral should be professionally cleaned once a year to remove built up debris. Inspections using a small camera should be conducted by a professional plumber every three to five years to ensure pipe integrity.
  • When planting trees and bushes outside, take care to plant them far enough from the lateral that their roots will not interfere with the pipe. This distance will vary depending on the type of plant and the surrounding soil conditions. Contact an arborist or landscaping specialist to determine the best planting distances.

More Info

Please send questions or comments on how the city is operating and maintaining the sewer system to wastewater@carlsbadca.gov or call 760-438-2722.