Sewer Backup Investigation



MSD investigates every report of a sewer backup to determine whether it's eligible for assistance through our Sewer Backup (SBU) Program.


After you report a sewer backup, an MSD customer service crew will come out to conduct a sewer backup investigation. Field crews are usually dispatched within four hours or less. 



As part of the investigation, the crew will:


  • Check the nearest upstream and downstream manholes in the street to check for flow
  • Look at the elevation of the lowest level of your property as compared to the nearest upstream manhole
  • Check the float level indicator on your cleanout (if you have one).
  • With your permission, they may also look at the backup inside your home.



MSD crews will make a preliminary finding in the field and will discuss the findings with you (if you are home). They will also leave a Field Form explaining the preliminary findings with you or at your door. 


Following this evaluation, MSD supervisors will confirm or modify the field report, usually within 24 hours. 




If the findings show the sewer backup was caused by the MSD public sewer, an MSD customer service representative will contact you by phone to offer professional cleaning services free of charge. You may also be eligible to file a damage claim in accordance with the SBU Program.


Learn more about the next steps: Cleaning Services and Claims


Not Eligible


You will not be eligible for assistance from MSD if the backup you experienced was caused solely by a private plumbing issue, overland flooding, or other jurisdictional issue. About 85% of the time, sewer backups are not caused by the MSD public sewer and are therefore not covered by the SBU Program.


Visit the links below for more information.