The Public Works Department is responsible for the cleaning, repair and maintenance of the Village's underground sanitary system. With a system primarily constructed of clay pipe, it is natural for a number of issues to arise resulting in blockages within the system.  Breaks within a pipe, sections becoming misaligned during freeze/thaw cycles, tree roots protruding in search of water, and household items introduced into the system through toilets that should not be flushed are typical causes for sanitary backups.

As a rule, sanitary backups are unpredictable but can be prevented through proper maintenance. Several times a year, Public Works will clean or "jet" the entire sanitary system with a high powered water cleaning apparatus generating nearly 3000 psi of water pressure to break-up potential blockages, cut roots in the system, and dislodge grease blockages before they become a larger problem. Residents can help by disposing paper towel, baby wipes, Q-Tips and other simple bathroom items in garbage cans rather than the toilet. These items become trapped within the system, creating a web of debris that prevents the passage of sewage, thus building a blockage. While the first sign of a sewer problem can be slower than normal drainage in places like bathtub drains or toilet bowls, residents can follow a few simple steps on the way to heading off a problem before it becomes destructive:

  • Check sinks and drains throughout the house to make sure it is not a problem localized to a specific drain. Typically, if only one drain is slow to empty, problem-solving can begin there. Sometimes, a plugged service line may cause a basement drain to back-up after toilet flushes, washing machine discharging or showering. An obstructed line will not allow water to flow out of the house and should then be looked at more closely.
  • Once a blockage is determined to be the cause of a drainage issue, contact the Public Works Department at 708-449-8840 and leave a name, address and specific information regarding the problem. Sometimes, solutions can be determined over the phone, but in most cases, Public Works personnel will be dispatched to inspect the main sewer line to make sure that the potential blockage is not part of the sanitary main. At that point, if it is determined that the main line is blocked, the jetting truck will be sent to relieve the blockage. If the main line is clear, the Public Works representative will suggest the next best course of action to be taken by the homeowner. At this point, any blockage that is not part of the main line becomes the responsibility of the homeowner.
  • It is strongly encouraged that homeowners contact the Public Works Department prior to enlisting the aid of plumbers or contractors to solve the problem. By working with the Public Works Department from the start, residents can be well informed prior to any conversation with plumbers. This can make sure that work is done properly, that permits are pulled to protect the resident in their effort to solve the problem, and that repairs are made without causing the need for future repairs.   

If the sanitary sewers only transported wastewater, as it was designed for, backups would only occur when obstructions were present in sewer pipes. However, during certain weather conditions where flooding becomes an issue, sanitary sewers become overloaded with groundwater or storm water runoff and can become surcharged or overloaded. This result in backups into lower levels and basements or slow running services. In situations where weather overloads the system, there is little the Public Works Department can do to alleviate the problem other than to make sure that blockages do not result as flood waters recede. It is recommended that, during these events, residents take great care to make sure that sump pumps are powered and prepared to weather the storm to its end.