Sewer blockages

Sewer blockages are caused by objects obstructing the flow of sewerage from the property.

Common causes of sewer blockages:

  • wet wipes, nappies or sanitary items
  • fat, oil and grease build up
  • tree roots.

Signs of a sewer blockage

  • a strong smell inside your home
  • sinks, bath or toilet slow to empty
  • your toilet is not flushing properly or has overflowed
  • the toilet or floor drain is making unusual gurgling noises
  • sewage rising up through the inspection shaft or overflow relief gully in your yard.

If you think you have a sewer blockage

The diagram below shows a typical private house sewer connection.

Barwon Water’s maintenance responsibility extends from the sewer main to the first inspection opening or one (1) meter inside the property boundary, whichever is lesser. After that point, all other sewer infrastructure is the owner’s responsibility. For further information, please refer to Barwon Water’s customer charter.

Barwon Water and Property owner's maintenance responsibility

The overflow relief gully (ORG) is a vertical pipe with an open vent. The inspection shaft (IS) is a vertical pipe set in concrete with a lid marked "IS".

Inspection shaft imageOverflow relief gully image

If water is continuously overflowing from the IS or ORG when appliances in your house are not being used, please call Barwon Water immediately. We will a dispatch a team to investigate further.

If water is overflowing from the IS or ORG only when appliances in your house are being used, please call a plumber. The blockage is likely to be in your internal pipes and will need to be repaired at your expense.

If you can’t locate the IS, please contact us. It is possible it could be buried, or the property may not have one. If you call us to clear a blockage and the IS is buried, we will ask you to expose it. The IS needs to be exposed so that a contractor can clear or locate the blockage. Barwon Water will then return once the IS has been raised to surface.

Please note: if you have a history of blockages in the house connection drain, please call us before engaging a plumber. We will advise the best options for your situation.

Will I have to pay?

If the blockage is located in your area of responsibility, the property owner is required to pay the plumbing expenses. However, if the blockage is located in Barwon Water’s area of responsibility, we will cover reasonable costs for the blockage removal. Customers can only make a claim if Barwon Water has been notified about the blockage and we have confirmed the problem was in our pipes.

What are reasonable costs?

Barwon Water considers attending a site, diagnosing the blockage location or removing the blockage (if located in Barwon Water’s area of responsibility) would take approximately one hour. We will limit reimbursement for when the blockage is in our section or main to $250 (including GST). This is in line with our plumbing panel fixed rates and charges.

Wer may reject claims if we believe they are excessive and justification cannot be provided.

What happens if the plumber invoices me?

If the plumber invoices you for time spent, Barwon Water will reimburse reasonable costs incurred to make the diagnosis and/or remove the blockage.

We will not cover the following:

  • a plumber who did not refer the blockage to Barwon Water and obtain an approval number
  • any work carried out by a plumber relating to work on your private sewer drains
  • any CCTV work in determining the location of the blockage (unless requested)
  • exposing or installing the inspection shaft surface fitting in compliance with the Victorian Building Authority.

How do I submit an invoice?

If a blockage is located within Barwon Water’s area of responsibility, it is preferred that plumbers invoice us directly. If the plumber invoices you instead, please forward the invoice and payment receipt to us to request reimbursement.