North Liberty Homeowner Pays Thousands in Repairs after Sewage Clog

Published: Jan. 13, 2016 at 6:51 PM CST
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North Liberty officials said for the past two years the city has seen an increase of non-disposable wipes in the city’s sewage pipes.

North Liberty Resident Brent Smith was on his way home from work when he received a call from his wife. She told him their home’s water detectors were going off, and she found a small amount of water in the basement. By the time Smith got home, the problem escalated.

“The sewage was already just boiling up through the drain in our utility room,” Smith said.

Friends and neighbors came over to help flush the water out, while the city showed up within five minutes to investigate the problem.

Officials found a clog of white tissue type paper clogging the line.

“We believe they were the adult version of the wet wipes that are being marketed as flushable and disposable when they really are not,” Smith said. “Doing a little more research, and talking with the city’s staff, and administration, it’s something that’s happened in the past.”

Smith’s insurance didn’t cover all of the damage, and they are paying most of it out of pocket. The basement flooded due to the home’s backflow preventer failing. The preventer is installed in homes to prevent sewage incidents like this one.

“Something that seems so simple that nobody really thinks about, we all take for granted. We turn the water faucet on, we flush the toilet, take a shower, it’s down and away, and you don’t ever think about it,” Smith said.

North Liberty Street’s Superintendent Don Colony said residents should be careful of what they flush.

“They actually float, and don’t have a chance to break down, they catch on things, and we have plugs,” Colony said. “There’s a difference between flushable and disposable, you need to read the product, and make sure that is flushable and not disposable.”

Colony said homeowners must get their backflow preventers serviced by a certified plumber once a year. Smith will have contractors in and out of his home through the next month. He’s installed more water detectors and sensors throughout the house to prevent this from happening again.

He hopes people will learn from his situation so it doesn’t happen to them or their neighbor.