Sanitary Sewer Maintenance for Homeowners
Follow these tips to keep your sewer pipes working properly.
Wastewater, known as any “used” water that goes into a drain, can have a major impact on our homes, businesses, and the natural environment if the pipes that carry wastewater are not maintained. Since the service connection is on your property, we need you to keep it clear and working properly by following the simple tips below.
Keeping your sanitary service connection clear and working properly
Do not pour fats, oils or grease down the drain
Fats, oils and grease will harden and stick to the sewer pipes. Running hot water at the same time will not stop fats, oils and grease from sticking to the sewer pipes. See what a sanitary sewer with fat, oil, and grease deposits looks like. Let fats, oils and grease begin to harden in your cookware (pots and pans). Then use a paper towel to wipe it off and put the paper towel in your compost bin.
If you prefer to clean your cookware right away, pour fats, oils and grease in a compostable container and put the container in the compost bin.
Don't flush personal hygiene items
This includes baby and personal wipes (even if they claim to be flushable or biodegradable), paper towels, make up removal pads, tampons and tampon applicators, sanitary napkins, condoms, disposable diapers, bandages, syringes, razor blades, medications, or other non-biodegradable products. These items can clog sanitary sewer pipes, as well as the pumps at the City’s pump stations. Put them in the garbage instead. Find out how to correctly get rid of organics, recyclables and garbage by reading about the City’s waste collection program.
Use a strainer for your sink, tub and shower drains
Strainers are inexpensive and prevent food, hair and other items from going down the drain and possibly clogging your service connection. Put collected items in your garbage or compost bin instead.
Do not plant trees, shrubs or other large plants over your service connection
Trees and plants like water, and their root systems can grow into your service connection pipe through joints or cracks in the pipe. See what a sanitary sewer full of roots looks like.
Direct your roof downspouts to your lawn, not to your service connection
Rainwater and groundwater that makes its way into the sanitary sewer system has a major impact on the sewer’s ability to carry wastewater.
Hire a plumber to video your service connection
The plumber will place a small camera in the service connection (usually by temporarily removing a toilet or other plumbing fixture) and the camera will take a video of the pipe as it travels from your home or building to the City's sanitary sewer system. The video can tell you if there are any issues with your service connection (for example, if the pipe is broken or something is blocking it).
Use your compost bin for food waste, rather than using a garburator
The City does not encourage the use of garburators. Garburators add excess water and food waste to the sanitary sewer system. Food waste should go into your compost bin instead. Adding food waste to the sanitary sewer system can also cause a blockage if it attaches to hardened fats, oils and grease, tree roots or sediment in the sewer pipe.
Do not pour restrictive or prohibited waste down the drain
This includes paint, engine oil, pesticides, cleaners, or other chemicals. See the City’s Sanitary Sewer Bylaw No. 16611 for a list of restrictive and prohibited wastes.
Fix or replace leaky plumbing fixtures
Leaky (dripping) fixtures in your home such as toilets, taps and showerheads add a lot of water unnecessarily to the sanitary sewer system. They are also wasting clean water and energy. Fix or replace toilets, taps or showerheads that are leaking. Also consider installing low flow toilets or showerheads to save water.
Find out more about your maintenance responsibilities in the City’s Sanitary Sewer Bylaw No. 16611. You are responsible for all costs to maintain and repair the service connection within your property.
Wastewater Management at Food Sector Establishments
Metro Vancouver, member municipalities, local businesses and food associations have put together a Code of Practice for Wastewater Management at Food Sector Establishments. The code outlines business owners and employee requirements to capture fats, oils and grease.
See the Keeping Grease Out of Our Sewers at restaurants, cafeterias and other food establishments in the Greater Vancouver area pamphlet from Metro Vancouver and the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.