Sewer Backup

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  • Homeowner Information - When a Sewer Backup Occurs
  • YCUA Sewer Backup Policy
  • YCUA Ownership, Maintenance, and Repair of Sewer Service Leads Policy
  • Basement Flooding Outreach Flyer
  • Public Act 222 (Sewer Backup Legislation): The Public Act 222 of State of Michigan Public Act of 2001 clarifies when local governments are liable for sewer backups. The Act established a process to follow to seek compensation when a backup occurs. To make a claim for property damage or physical injury, it must be proven that the public sewer had a defect and that Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority knew or should have known about the defect and failed to take reasonable steps to repair or correct the defect. If you would like to make a claim, you must file a written claim form with Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority within forty-five (45) days after the backup or overflow is discovered. YCUA's Insurance Company will perform its own investigation to determine liabilities associated with the incident.


Around the House In the Basement  Overall System
  Insurance Coverage

Basement flooding:
Basement flooding can be caused by heavy storms, spring snowmelt, or excessive groundwater build-up entering your home via leaks or seepage. Poor yard drainage can also put your basement at risk. The water is typically clear and odor-free. Residents are urged to check their homeowners’ insurance policies to ensure coverage for any property damage from basement flooding. Often this type of coverage is not included in the standard homeowners policy and residents must request a special rider in order to be covered.?

Sanitary sewage basement backup:
A basement backup is sanitary sewer water entering the basement, typically through a floor drain. It is grayish in color and usually has an odor. If you are experiencing a sanitary sewage problem, please contact our office at (734) 484-6000 during regular business hours or (734) 544-7316 on nights, weekends, or holidays. A qualified technician will be dispatched to investigate and assess the problem.

•  Ensure soil is graded (sloped) away from the house. Ensure there are no low spots or areas that trap water within 10 feet of the basement foundation. It is imperative that water is drained away from the foundation of the home. (Top priority!)

• Downspouts should be extended away from the house.

•  Ensure gutter system is working correctly. Identify where and how it is discharging to ensure water is draining away from the foundation. Move any items that are blocking the exits of your downspouts. Remove the downspouts from the underground storm pipes and redirect then onto your lawn at least three feet away from the house as shown in the photo below.
downspouts image
•  If there are external stairwells or basement egress windows, consider covering or enclosing them to ensure surface water is not entering. This water will go directly into the footing drains around the home.  External stairwells often have drains in the bottom. If the drain clogs with leaves or debris, water will back up at the bottom, breach the threshold, and enter the basement.

•  Perform a camera inspection of the sanitary sewer lead/lateral. If roots, cracks, offsets, etc. are identified, replace or line the service lateral to limit infiltration into the system as well as prevent backups. The sanitary lead for the home includes the tap into the sanitary sewer main.

•  Clean debris and leaves from in front of your property to reduce catch basins from clogging. If you see a catch basin covered in trash, please remove the trash and debris.

•  Backup the sump pump with a battery or other backup system (water operated, second pump system at a higher point, extra pump ready, and/or generator for home, etc.).

•  Maintain sump systems and test them at least twice a year.
•  If there is no backup for the sump pump, consider a pump and check valve assembly being present next to the sump for quick replacement in the case of failure.

•  Install a water alarm in the basement at the lowest point. Consider installing a second water alarm in the sump basin or footing drain cleanout.

•  Additional information regarding basements and sump pumps can be found here at Basements and Sump Pumps (

•  Protect items in your basement. Don't keep valuables in your basement. Store items in plastic tubs. Use shelves to store items to keep them above the basement floor. Consider consulting with a licensed plumber and HVAC company to have your furnace inspected and see if it can be raised up. Consider replacing your hot water tank with a tankless water system installed on the wall. 

•  Direct water from poorly drained surfaces to grassy or landscaped areas to allow the water to soak into the ground before running off the property.
•  Install a check valve that closes your sewer line with a flap during rain events to prevent backups – you cannot use your toilets and drains during the rain event to keep the flap closed.Blackflow Valve

•  If possible, treat the runoff water with rain gardens or other stormwater treatments. Install rain gardens in as many places as possible, both on the property and in the right of way. Visit Rain Gardens | Washtenaw County, MI for additional information on building a rain garden to capture storm water runoff.
rain garden

•  Install a generator system considering its ability to operate key parts of the home (sump, refrigerator, lights, etc.). This can be a key function during extended power outages.

  • Ensure that homeowners insurance policy includes sewer backups – Sewer backups and sump pump overflow is not normally insured under a typical homeowner insurance policy or by flood insurance. Sewer backup coverage can typically be purchased as a separate product through your insurance company and is relatively inexpensive. YCUA encourages property owners to review their policies and contact their insurance agent about this policy provision.
  • Filing an insurance claim – Ideally property owners should review and understand the requirements of filing an insurance claim before an incident occurs. Review the policy for filing requirements and contact the agent with any questions.  Here are some general best practices when preparing a claim:
    • Take photos of the property and possessions on a regular basis, before an incident occurs;
    • Take photo’s during and after an incident;
    • Itemize any property loss;
    • Save all receipts related to repair, cleaning, or other damages;
    • Contact the insurance agent immediately.
  • Review the Loss of Use coverage – In the event that the home is uninhabitable due to a sewer backup, or sump pump failure, a Loss of Use coverage, as part of a homeowner insurance policy, may reimburse homeowner's lodging, food, and living expenses for the time the home is uninhabitable. Contact your insurance agent about this policy provision.