Dealing with Sanitary Sewer Back-ups


If you have a back-up in your sanitary sewer system, contact the Nebraska City Utilities by calling 873-3353.  This number is staffed 24 hours per day for emergencies.

A crew will respond to check the City’s main sewer lines.  If a line is found blocked, the crew will purge the line to get it open.  If your back-up does not recede after the City line is found to be open or after it is purged, you should call a professional plumber to have your home’s service line cleared.  The City cannot recommend plumbers for this service, but many can be found in the local telephone directory yellow pages.

After City crews have inspected the main sewer lines, we will inform the customer reporting the back-up as to our findings.  Please be sure to leave an accurate address and telephone number when reporting a back up.


Use caution when conducting the clean up.  Use rubber gloves and rubber boots that can be cleaned or discarded after use.  You will be dealing with sewage and there are health considerations to take into account.  You may want to consider having a professional cleaning service do the work for you.

Use caution when using any electrical appliance in a wet environment.  DO NOT attempt to shut off electricity, if the breaker box is wet or near any water.  DO NOT use outlets that may have become wet or are near any water.

Remove standing water.  Heavy duty wet vacuums work well for this and may be obtained from local rental stores to assist in clean up.

Air out the room.  Drying wet areas is helped by encouraging air circulation by opening windows and using fans.

Clean carpets.  Damage can be minimized by thorough carpet cleaning.  Professional services can be contracted or cleaning equipment can be rented.

NOTE:  Insurance liability restrictions prevent Utility crews from assisting in the clean-up of private residences and furnishings.


The Utilities has little control over what is put in the sewers, therefore we can not be held responsible when improper items are put in the sewer or when heavy rainfalls surcharge the lines.  We can not control these events.  You may want to check with your private insurance carrier to determine if you have coverage through your homeowners insurance.  Most homeowners insurance does not automatically include this coverage.


Sewer blockages sometimes occur due to tree root infiltration or improper items entering the sewer line.  The Utilities conducts an aggressive program for removing root infiltration in the Utilities sewer system.

Sanitary sewers are designed to handle human waste.  The Utilities is not responsible for foreign items entering the system.  Examples of items that can cause sewer back-ups if they enter the system include:

  • Grease
  • Children’s Toys
  • Clothing
  • Feminine Napkins
  • Diapers
  • Other Man-made Items

The Utilities also recently acquired a Sewer System T.V. Inspection System and is in the process of TVing the sewer mains of the City during maintenance for determining possible areas of future maintenances.

Sewer Main Jetting Truck preparing to clean sewer main during maintenance or
in advance of inspecting main with camera remotely controlled by operators.

Preparing to insert TV camera into sewer main.

Monitoring condition of Sewer main from inside of trailer.
Recordings are made and filed for future reference.

(Inside Houses or Buildings)

Sewer odor or gas is always present in the sewer system and cannot be eliminated.  This is why there are provisions in the Uniform Plumbing Code to insure that vent pipes and traps are installed to the house plumbing systems to carry odors and gasses out through the roof vent and prevent it from coming back into the structure.

If you experience sewer gas odor, check all plumbing fixtures and drains to be certain all traps are full of water.  Pour some water down floor drains or infrequently used tubs and showers to be certain traps are full.  Check for cracked or broken pipe or fittings.

Atmospheric conditions can have an effect on when you may get odor inside the house.  When barometric pressure is falling or is very low, the air outside is heavier than air from the sewer system.  This can act like a cap on the vent stack causing pressure to build up in the sewer system and any openings will discharge sewer odors from the system.  This may also be apparent from manholes or drains outside your house during periods of low barometric pressure.

If odor problems continue, have a plumber check out the entire house system for drain system air leaks.

If you have questions or comments, please call the Utilities Service Department at 873-3353, or E-mail at