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Sewer Department

Report a Sewer Leak

Stopped Sewers
Most sewer stoppages in individual buildings are caused by roots or grease in the lines owned by the property owner. However, if water is flowing from your plumbing and no water has been run by the customer into any fixture in the building, please call the Utilities Department (864) 653-2046 during office hours and (864) 624-2000 after hours immediately, and personnel will be sent to check the city mains. If the plumbing fixtures simply will not drain the property owner is advised to call the Utilities Department first before calling a plumbing repair service to have their service checked. If the Utilities Department personnel find a blockage on the owner’s side, the owner is then responsible for contacting a plumbing repair service to correct the problem.

Grease Information

Just as excessive grease in a person’s diet can cause problems with the human body’s “plumbing system”, grease poured into your drain at home can cause problems with the City of Clemson sewer system.

When liquid grease is introduced into the sewer system it begins to solidify as it cools. The grease then attaches itself to the inside of the sewer line. Over a period of time this grease severely restricts the flow in the sewer line and eventually will cause a complete blockage. When a blockage occurs the contents of the sewer line seek the path of least resistance, usually flowing out of a manhole onto the ground or in the worst case into your home. It goes without saying, this can cause a very unhealthy condition.

In an effort to reduce this potential problem we ask that you do not pour grease into your drain, but rather collect cooking grease in a can or jar and allow it to solidify then dispose of it with your trash. It is a good idea to dispose of “all food into the garbage” and not use the under sink disposal as a trash can.

The City of Clemson Utilities Department is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to a problem of this nature. If you see a sewer overflow during normal working hours (Monday-Friday 8am until 5pm) call the Utilities Department at 653-2046 or after hours contact the City of Clemson Police Department at 624-2000 and they will dispatch the person on-call.

Lift Station Wet Well Cleaning

The City of Clemson maintains 17 Lift Stations throughout our service area. These stations are needed to pump sewerage from low lying areas back to our trunk lines. These pump stations vary in size from one in the back yard that handles your neighborhood to one that handles the entire downtown area.

We are currently in the process of installing automated alarm systems on the pump stations that notify us of any problems with the stations. This alleviates the necessity of having alarms on the stations where nearby homeowners have to notify us of any problems.

Manhole Inspections

Manholes are essential components of the sewer collection system and are often the only points of access into our underground infrastructure for conducting important maintenance tasks for pipes such as: cleaning, rehabilitation, and inspection. Without manholes, open-cut excavation and diversion of street traffic would be the only means of access. Therefore, manhole inspection and maintenance is one of the highest priorities in collection system management.

Manholes also offer an important opportunity for addressing the costly problem of infiltration and inflow, (I/I), which is a major cause of sewer overflows that pollute our waterways and environment. A manhole is essentially a vertical pipe that gives access to the horizontal pipes that form a collection system. An 8 foot deep manhole of typical design has about the same surface area as a 50 foot segment of 8 in. pipe. When thought of in terms of underground surface area, manholes become a major part of a collection system.

The data we gain from manholes gives us valuable insight into the overall condition of the sewer system such as: flow rates/hydraulics, presence of corrosive elements, evidence of surcharge, and overall capacity.

City Employee Inspecting Manhole

Responding to Customers


Sewage is backing up into my basement, who should I call or what should I do?
During normal business hours contact the City of Clemson Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046 or after hours contact the Clemson Police Department at (864) 624-2000. The Police Dispatcher will contact our Utilities on-call personnel. We will promptly examine the "City" sewer line to determine whether the problem is ours or yours, at no charge. If the blockage is in the city line, we will use whatever means necessary to open it and restore flow. If the blockage is in your house lateral we will advise that you call a professional plumber.

Who should I call if my sanitary sewer backs up AFTER normal working hours?
Call the City of Clemson Police Department at (864) 624-2000. The Police Dispatcher will contact the Utilities on-call personnel. Once on site, we will determine whether the problem lies with the City or with your lateral line.

If I have a sewer problem, who do I call?
You should first call us, the City of Clemson Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046. We can then determine what your issue is and if we can be of any help in resolving the problem.

Who is responsible for cleanup as a result of a sewer backup?
The property owner is responsible for cleanup so you will need to contact your insurance carrier. If a problem with a City main was the possible cause of the backup we will contact our insurance carrier to make a determination of liability.


I have slow drainage through my toilets, showers, and sinks. What can I do about it?
Slow drainage is usually caused by clogs in your plumbing and you’ll need to call a plumber, or try cleaning the drain.

In a small percentage of cases, there may be an obstruction in the city sewer line. Call the City of Clemson Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046 and we will check out the main lines.

It smells like “sewer gas” in my basement -- what should I do?
The most common cause of “sewer gas” (hydrogen sulfide) odor in basements is due to improperly maintained floor drains or dry traps on sinks. Floor drains are designed to “trap” the hydrogen sulfide gases in the sewer and keep them from your home.

How to Remedy the Problem:
-Locate all of the floor drains.
-Pour water in each floor drain on a regular basis.
-Never let the floor drain dry out.
-Make sure that all plumbing fixtures are used at least periodically in order to keep water in the traps.
-Also, check the stack vents on your roof to ensure that they are not blocked by leaves, etc.

What causes a sanitary sewer to backup?
Most sewer backups occur when the lines get clogged with debris. However, backups can occur for other reasons.  The condition of the sanitary sewer system could be poor, natural conditions such as the ground moving or a lot of rain.  When people misuse or vandalize the system problems can occur.

What causes a sewer stoppage?
Sewer stoppages can occur when the City sewer line becomes obstructed and your home is lower than the manhole in the street. This will eventually cause a residential back-up, which usually occurs with water/sewage coming up through a floor drain or lowest drain in a home. The same symptoms will occur when the obstruction is located in the residential lateral.

To prevent a sewer backup in the house a backwater valve or “pop-off sewer clean out” needs to be installed outside your home. By the Building Code you are required to have a backflow preventer if you house floor level is not at least 18 inches above the level of the top of the upstream manhole that serves your home.

Right of Way Maintenance

The City of Clemson Utilities Department maintains the sewer line right-of-ways, ROW. We keep the areas clean and mowed to prevent root intrusion into sewer lines to prevent blockages. This allows the City to access easements for maintenance purposes. You can help us by not encumbering sewer line right-of-ways with buildings, fences, and plantings which is against the City Code to place these in the ROW.
Right of Way Mowing Image

Sewer Backing Up

What to do when you experience a sewer back-up?
Residents should notify the City, before calling a plumber, anytime they experience a sanitary sewer back up from a drain or sewer leaving the home. This is especially important when the back-up occurs during a heavy rainfall event. A representative from the City’s Utilities Department will respond to your home to determine if a problem exists in the City’s main sewer line. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve our customers and residents. This service is provided at no cost to you and will save you the expense of calling a plumber if the City of Clemson sewer line is the problem. If you are experiencing a sewer backup from only one drain in your home such as a bathroom sink or toilet and all other drains are fine, this is an internal problem and you must call a plumber.

If the City determines that the main sewer is clear, you will be advised to contact a licensed plumber at your expense. The City cannot recommend plumbers, but we do provide helpful tips for hiring and working with plumbers.

For all sanitary sewer concerns, please call the City of Clemson Utilities Department at (864) 653-2046 during normal business hours, or call (864) 624-2000 after hours. We are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to serve our customers and residents.

Sewer Line Cleaning and Television Inspection

The City of Clemson Utilities Department uses a state of the art Jet Vac Truck and trailer mounted “jetter” to clean and maintain sewer lines. We can use the truck or trailer unit to open any pipeline whether it is a sewer line or a storm drain.
City Employee With Jet Vac Truck

Sewer Line Smoke and Dye Test

The City of Clemson Utilities Department uses smoke and dye testing to determine if there are problems with the City sewer lines. Smoke testing can be used to see if sewer services are connected to the sewer system.

Visual inspections also play an important part in the sewer system inspection process. You may see Utility personnel out in any section of town inspecting over 2500 manholes. We try to inspect these manholes at least once a year to circumvent and prevent problems from occurring that could cause backups into your home or an environmental hazard.

Sewer Rehabilitation Projects

The City of Clemson Utilities Department has been replacing sewer lines since 1986. We have areas that still need to be replaced due to poor pipe and manhole conditions. Rehabilitation projects may include the following: televising and cleaning existing lines; excavations to reconnect service lines from the residence or repair the main sewer; installing new manholes or rehabilitating existing manholes; pipe-bursting, (installing new lines inside of old sewer lines).

We may have to remove fence sections, trees or vegetation to gain access to backyard public utility easements. We occasionally smoke test the sewer main or service lines to ensure proper connections (non-toxic smoke can enter homes if the private pipes are cracked or not sealed or a trap or pipe is dry inside a house or business); We will restore the surface along the easement and plant grass or install mulch planting to reasonably restore public easements upon completion of work, but we will not restore trees or shrubs planted in the right-of-way.

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Utilities Department
300 Cochran Road
Clemson, SC29631

Phone:  (864) 653-2046
Fax:  (864) 653-2076