Sewer Blockages & Backups

The maintenance of the sewer service – from the property line to the building – is the property owner's responsibility. If your service connects to a WSSC main sewer located in a right-of-way on your property, the WSSC does not maintain any portion of the service except the actual connection at the WSSC's main line. If you are still experiencing backup problems, we recommend that you hire a WSSC registered plumber or sewer drain cleaner to clear the sewer service.

In case of a sewer backup call the WSSC's 24-hour emergency number 301-206-4002 or 1-800-634-8400. Our TTY number is 301-206-8345.

Based on prior sewer history at the property, WSSC will determine whether we can assist you. WSSC's representative (or your plumber) will determine whether the stoppage is the responsibility of the homeowner or WSSC. If the backup is the homeowner's responsibility, WSSC recommends the homeowner contact at least three registered plumbers to obtain estimates for pipe replacements. If the sewer backup is WSSC's responsibility, a WSSC crew on our registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner will be sent to relieve the blockage at no charge to the homeowners. But if the backup is the WSSC's responsibility and your resident/business is damaged, or if you are requesting reimbursement of plumber's fees, please contact the WSSC Claims Office during normal business hours at 301-206-7095.

If a sewer backup occurs, please familiarize yourself with the following:

  1. Plumbers or Sewer Drain Cleaners must be registered with WSSC to do business in Montgomery or Prince George's County. They are required to include their WSSC registration number in the yellow pages display advertising. Always ask for their registration/license number when contacting them. (You may contact WSSC Regulatory Services Group to verify a Plumber/Sewer Drain Cleaner's status on 301-206-8588).
  2. When hiring a registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner to clear the sewer line, we recommend you obtain more than one estimate; prices and guarantees vary.
  3. To ensure that the sewer backup you are experiencing is relieved, registered plumber/sewer drain cleaners are required to snake the sewer service to the WSSC main sewer line in the street, including the portion of the connection maintained by the WSSC.
  4. The registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner should determine if the blockage is on your property or is located in the WSSC maintained portion of the sewer service. The registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner must notify the WSSC's 24-Hour Emergency Service at 301-206-4002 as soon as possible, if the stoppage is located in the WSSC maintained portion of the service. This notification is important so that we can update our records. After this notification you should call us if you experience another stoppage.
  5. If the registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner is unable to relieve the blockage on your property, they must refer you to another registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner who can relieve the service or recommend excavation. If you decide to excavate and repair the service, we suggest you obtain more than one estimate because prices may vary considerbly.
  6. Only a registered WSSC Master Plumber can excavate or repair an underground sewer pipe. The plumber must obtain a permit from WSSC and the work must be inspected and approved by WSSC's Regulatory Services Group before the repaired pipe is covered. This process protects the customer, ensures that all work is performed according to the Plumbing and Gasfitting Regulations, and provides a record for warranty purposes. When the repair is completed, remember to ask the plumber for the owner's copy of the approved permit.
  7. If the registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner is unable to relieve the blockage, and the stoppage is in the WSSC portion of the sewer service, the registered plumber/drain cleaner must report the stoppage and location to our 24-Hour Emergency Service at 301-206-4002. WSSC will dispatch a crew as quickly as possible to relieve the service or excavate and repair the service, as necessary, at no expense to the homeowner.
  8. Homeowners are permitted to snake the sewer service themselves. Equipment can often be rented. If you cannot relieve the stoppage, we recommend you hire a registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner, regardless of the location of the blockage. WSSC accepts only registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner reports regarding the location/description of stoppages.
  9. Payment for registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner's services is the property owner's responsibility even if the blockage was found in the WSSC maintained portion of the service. However, if the problem in the WSSC maintained portion of the sewer service was due to roots or broken pipe, please contact the WSSC Claims Office at 301-206-7095 for reimbursement consideration.
  10. Sometimes a registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner cannot relieve a blockage in the WSSC maintained portion of the sewer service. If a WSSC crew determines that the registered plumber/sewer drain cleaner should have been able to relieve the stoppage, WSSC may bill the plumber/sewer drain cleaner. The homeowner is responsible for the initial bill from the plumber/server drain cleaner, but is not responsible for any charges assessed by WSSC.


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