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Sewer Department

Report a Sewer Leak

Diagram of Customer vs City lines

Stopped Sewers
Most sewer stoppages in individual buildings are caused by roots or grease in the lines owned by the property owner. However, if water is flowing from your plumbing and no water has been run by the customer into any fixture in the building, please call the Utilities Department - at (864) 653-2046 during office hours and at (864) 624-2000 after hours - immediately, and personnel will be sent to check the City mains. If the plumbing fixtures simply will not drain, the property owner is advised to call the Utilities Department first before calling a plumbing repair service to have their service checked. If the Utilities Department personnel find a blockage on the owner’s side, the owner is then responsible for contacting a plumbing repair service to correct the problem.


Grease Information

Just as excessive grease in a person’s diet can cause problems with the human body’s “plumbing system”, grease poured into your drain at home can cause problems with the City of Clemson sewer system. In fact, grease is the #1 cause of sewer backups in homes, restaurants, and sewer mains.

When liquid grease is introduced into the sewer system, it begins to solidify as it cools. The grease then attaches itself to the inside of the sewer line. Over a period of time, even a small amount of grease will severely restrict the flow in the sewer line, eventually causing a complete blockage. When a blockage occurs, the contents of the sewer line seek the path of least resistance, usually flowing out of a manhole onto the ground or, even worse, into your home. This causes an adverse effect on the environment, including pollution of water sources. The cost of blocked sewer lines also carries a hefty financial cost. The City of Clemson has approximately 65 miles of sewer line in the system, and each several line stoppage costs an average or $500 to clean. Cost to the City for damage from overflows can run as high as $8,500. The more it costs to maintain the system, the more it costs you, the utlities customer. To avoid ecological and economical costs to the City and its inhabitants, do not pour grease into your drain or even down your garbage disposal. The best way to dispose of grease is in the garbage. Collect cooking grease in a can or jar and allow it to solidify, then dispose of it with your trash. (The grease will solidify on its own, but mixing in a small amount of cat litter or Oil-Dri will speed up the process.)

The City of Clemson Utilities Department is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to a problem of this nature. If you see a sewer overflow during normal working hours (Monday-Friday 8am until 5pm), call the Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046. After hours, contact the City of Clemson Police Department at (864) 624-2000, and they will dispatch the on-call personnel.

Lift Station Wet Well Cleaning

The City of Clemson maintains 17 Lift Stations throughout our service area. These stations are needed to pump sewerage from low lying areas back to our trunk lines. These pump stations vary in size from one in a back yard that handles your neighborhood to one that handles the entire downtown area.

We are currently in the process of installing automated alarm systems on the pump stations that notify us of any problems with the stations. This alleviates the necessity of having alarms on the stations where nearby homeowners have to notify us of any problems.

Manhole Inspections

City Employee Inspecting Manhole
Manholes are essential components of the sewer collection system and are often the only points of access into our underground infrastructure for conducting important maintenance tasks for pipes (i.e. cleaning, rehabilitation, and inspection). Without manholes, open-cut excavation and diversion of street traffic would be the only means of access. Therefore, manhole inspection and maintenance is one of the highest priorities in collection system management.

Manholes also offer an important opportunity for addressing the costly problem of infiltration and inflow, (I/I), which is a major cause of sewer overflows that pollute our waterways and environment. A manhole is essentially a vertical pipe that gives access to the horizontal pipes that form a collection system. An 8 foot deep manhole of typical design has about the same surface area as a 50 foot segment of 8 inch pipe. When thought of in terms of underground surface area, manholes become a major part of a collection system.

The data we gain from manholes gives us valuable insight into the overall condition of the sewer system such as: flow rates/hydraulics, presence of corrosive elements, evidence of surcharge, and overall capacity.


Frequently Asked Questions

Urgent Issues

Sewage is backing up into my basement, who should I call or what should I do?
During normal business hours contact the City of Clemson Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046 or after hours contact the Clemson Police Department at (864) 624-2000. The Police Dispatcher will contact our Utilities on-call personnel. We will promptly examine the "City" sewer line, at no charge, to determine whether the problem is on our line or yours. If the blockage is in the City line, we will use whatever means necessary to open it and restore flow. If the blockage is in your house lateral, we will advise that you call a professional plumber.

Who should I call if my sanitary sewer backs up AFTER normal working hours?
Call the City of Clemson Police Department at (864) 624-2000. The Police Dispatcher will contact the Utilities on-call personnel. Once on site, we will determine whether the problem lies with the City line or with your lateral line.

If I have a sewer problem, who do I call?
You should first call us, the City of Clemson Utilities Department, at (864) 653-2046. We can then determine what your issue is and if we can be of any help in resolving the problem.

Who is responsible for cleanup as a result of a sewer backup?
The property owner is responsible for cleanup, so you will likely need to contact your insurance carrier. If a problem with a City main was the possible cause of the backup, we will contact our insurance carrier to make a determination of liability.

Non-Urgent Issues

I have slow drainage through my toilets, showers, and sinks. What can I do about it?
Slow drainage is usually caused by clogs in your plumbing, so you’ll need to try cleaning the drain or call a plumber.

In a small percentage of cases, there may be an obstruction in the city sewer line. If you suspect this may be the case, call the City of Clemson Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046, and we will check out the main lines.

It smells like “sewer gas” in my basement -- what should I do?
The most common cause of “sewer gas” (hydrogen sulfide) odor in basements is due to improperly maintained floor drains or dry traps on sinks. Floor drains are designed to “trap” the hydrogen sulfide gases in the sewer and keep them from your home. Fortunately, the issue is easily remedied:
  • Locate all of the floor drains.
  • Pour water in each floor drain on a regular basis.
  • Never let the floor drain dry out.
  • Make sure that all plumbing fixtures are used at least periodically in order to keep water in the traps.
  • Check the stack vents on your roof to ensure that they are not blocked by leaves, etc.
What causes a sanitary sewer to backup?
Most sewer backups occur when the lines get clogged with debris, which often happens when people misuse or vandalize the system. However, backups can occur for other reasons such as poor condition of the sanitary sewer system or natural conditions (i.e. the ground moving or a lot of rain).

What causes a sewer stoppage?
Sewer stoppages can occur when the City sewer line becomes obstructed and your home is lower than the manhole in the street. This will eventually cause a residential back-up, which usually means water/sewage coming up through a floor drain or lowest drain in a home. The same symptoms will occur when the obstruction is located in the residential lateral.

To prevent a sewer backup in the house, a backwater valve or “pop-off sewer clean out” needs to be installed outside your home. By the Building Code, you are required to have a backflow preventer if the floor level of your house is not at least 18 inches above the level of the top of the upstream manhole that serves your home.

Right of Way Maintenance

The City of Clemson Utilities Department maintains the sewer line right-of-ways (ROW). We keep the areas clean and mowed to prevent root intrusion into sewer lines that would otherwise cause blockages. This allows the City to access easements for maintenance purposes. Please help us by not encumbering sewer line right-of-ways with buildings, fences, and plantings. (It is against the City Code to place these in the ROW.)
Right of Way Mowing Image

Sewer Backing Up

If you are experiencing a sanitary sewer back up from a drain or sewer leaving the home, notify the City before calling a plumber. This is especially important when the back-up occurs during a heavy rainfall event. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve our customers and residents and will send a representative from the City’s Utilities Department to determine if a problem exists in the City’s main sewer line. This service is provided at no cost to you and will save you the expense of calling a plumber if the City's sewer line is the problem. If the City determines that the main sewer is clear, you will be advised to contact a licensed plumber at your expense. The City cannot recommend plumbers, but we do provide helpful tips for hiring and working with plumbers. If you are experiencing a sewer backup from only one drain in your home, such as a bathroom sink or toilet, and all other drains are fine, this is an internal problem, and you must call a plumber.

For all sanitary sewer concerns, please call the City of Clemson Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046 during normal business hours, or call (864) 624-2000 after hours. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve our customers and residents.

Sewer Line Cleaning and Television Inspection

The City of Clemson Utilities Department uses a state of the art Jet Vac Truck and trailer mounted “jetter” to clean and maintain sewer lines. We can use the truck or trailer unit to open any pipeline whether it is a sewer line or a storm drain. City Employee With Jet Vac Truck

Sewer Line Smoke and Dye Test

The City of Clemson Utilities Department uses smoke and dye testing to determine if there are problems with the City sewer lines. Smoke testing can be used to see if sewer services are connected to the sewer system.

Visual inspections also play an important part in the sewer system inspection process. You may periodically see Utility personnel around town inspecting over 2500 manholes. We try to inspect these manholes at least once a year to circumvent and prevent problems that could cause backups into your home or an environmental hazard.

Sewer Rehabilitation Projects

The City of Clemson Utilities Department has been replacing sewer lines since 1986. We have areas that still need to be replaced due to poor pipe and manhole conditions. Rehabilitation projects may include the following: televising and cleaning existing lines, excavations to reconnect service lines from the residence or repair the main sewer, installing new manholes or rehabilitating existing manholes, and pipe-bursting (installing new lines inside of old sewer lines).

During this process, we may have to remove fence sections, trees, or vegetation to gain access to backyard public utility easements. We occasionally smoke test the sewer main or service lines to ensure proper connections during which time non-toxic smoke can enter homes if the private pipes are cracked or not sealed or a trap or pipe is dry inside a house or business. We will restore the surface along the easement and plant grass or install mulch planting to reasonably restore public easements upon completion of work, but we will not restore trees or shrubs planted in the right-of-way.

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Utilities Department
300 Cochran Road
Clemson, SC29631

Phone:  (864) 653-2046
Fax:  (864) 653-2076