Public Works

Sewer Maintenance

What is "Orangeburg pipe" and do I have it?

Orangeburg pipe is a type of pipe that was commonly used from around 1950 to around 1970. It is a paper tape type pipe impregnated with tar and pressed together. It is susceptible to damage by tree roots and has a tendency to collapse with age. The Building Department can pull plumbing permits and check date of service line installation if a permit was acquired for sewer work at a property. Neither the Building Department nor Sewer Maintenance will have type of material used or how much was replaced. To determine if you have Orangeburg, you could have the service line televised by a plumber or have the line dug up and exposed.

Sanitary sewers: where does the property owner's responsibility end and the City's responsibility begin?

The private building sewer extends from the interior plumbing of the building to where the pipe connects to the public sewer main, most frequently located in the center of the street or alley.

There's an odor inside my house, what is it?

The odor could be from a natural gas leak or sewer gases. If it is a natural gas leak, leave immediately and contact the gas company. If you smell sewer gas, check to see if all sewer traps are filled with water and check to see if the cap on sewer cleanout is tight. If the trap is dry, at least 4 cups of water are needed to provide a seal in the U of the drain, preventing the sewer gas odors from entering the house. If the sewer gas smell persists, call your plumber and have your system checked.

There's an odor outside, what is it?

Outside odors can be caused by a variety of reasons and are affected by atmospheric conditions. If you can detect the source and suspect that it is sewer gas, contact Sewer Maintenance at (319) 286-5826 and we will investigate.

What caused water to gush from my toilet?

This condition can be the result of preventative sewer maintenance activities. Sewer mains are cleaned from the inside of the pipe by using high-pressure water. Occasionally this can cause a surge in the service line. Conditions in a service line that could result in a pressure surcharge during cleaning are services connected low to the sewer main and “flat” (less than desirable fall or slope) service lines.

What can be done about the large opening on the storm sewer intake? It doesn't seem safe for children.

Contact Sewer Maintenance at (319) 286-5826 and provide the address and location. A staff person will be sent out to investigate. If a bar is missing or if the opening size is greater than 6 inches, Sewer Maintenance will schedule work to have the problem corrected. Reducing the opening more than this will restrict the flow of rainwater, causing street flooding to become a concern.

What should be done about kids playing in storm sewers?

Entry into the storm sewer (and sanitary sewer) system by unauthorized persons is prohibited. Contact the Police Department or Sewer Maintenance at (319) 286-5826. Sanitary Sewer and Storm Sewer systems are potentially dangerous and entry is allowed only by persons specifically trained for this type of activity.

My sewer line backed up. I called a plumber, but it turned out to be a problem in the City's line. Who is going to pay for my clean up?

Contact the Risk Manager in the Audit Department.

Will someone help me retrieve keys (or other items) that I've dropped into a storm sewer intake?

Contact Sewer Maintenance at (319) 286-5826, during normal working hours (7 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.), and crews will be dispatched to help try to retrieve the item.

Who could help retrieve an animal from storm sewer or sanitary sewer?

Contact Animal Control at (319) 848-7373.

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