A wastewater blockage, or sewer choke, can occur when there's something inside a pipe that stops it working properly. They have common causes: tree roots that have found a way into the pipes, when someone puts something down the toilet that it's not designed for, such as wet wipes or other hygiene products, or by stormwater entering the wastewater network and overloading it during heavy rainfall.
Tree roots are a common cause of damage to wastewater pipes. They can enter small cracks in your wastewater pipes to seek out nutrients and then continue to grow. As they grow, they take up more space and slow down your drainage. This can eventually cause a blockage.
Signs of a blockage can be:
Remember that flushing the wrong things down the toilet can also cause blockages. The only things you should flush are the 3 Ps: pee, poo and toilet paper (watch this space for details of the new flushable standard).
Before you plant trees on your property, find out where your wastewater pipes are. A sewerage service diagram will show you. You can get one online through Sydney Water Tap in. Try not to plant trees within 6 metres of wastewater pipes. Your local nursery can advise on trees and their root systems or check the list below for trees to avoid.
If your existing trees are a problem, ask a plumber to set up a regular maintenance plan for you.
Tree species vary greatly in their ability to enter the wastewater system and cause damage. The trees listed below are likely to cause problems to your wastewater pipes. We recommend that you don't plant these species within 6 metres of a wastewater pipe.
|Botanical name||Common name|
|Acer sp.||Maple (mostly large)|
|Araucaria sp.||Norfolk Island Pine|
|Brachychiton Acerifolius||Illawarra Flame Tree|
|Casuarina sp.||Casuarinas or She-Oaks (especially River Oak and Swamp Oak)|
|Celtis sp.||Nettle-tree and Hackberry|
|Chamaecyparis/Cupressus sp.||Cedar and Cypress|
|Cinnamomum Camphora||Camphor Laurel|
|Erythrina sp.||Coral tree (large)|
|Eucalyptus sp.||Gum trees (large)|
|Ficus sp.||Figs (Moreton Bay Fig, Weeping Fig, Rubber Tree)|
|Fraxinus sp.||Ashes (large)|
|Lagerstroemia sp.||Crepe Myrtle|
|Lophostemon Confertus||Brush Box|
|Magnolia sp.||Magnolias (large)|
|Metrosideros Excelsus||New Zealand Christmas Tree|
|Morus sp.||Mulberry (especially Black Mulberry)|
|Murraya Paniculate||Orange Jasmine|
|Phoenix Canariensis||Canary Island Date Palm|
|Platanus sp.||Plane trees|
|Prunus sp.||Apricot, Cherry, Peach, Plum|
|Sapium Sebiferum||Chinese Tallow Tree|
|Schefflera Actinophylla||Umbrella Tree|
|Schinus Molle||Pepper Tree|
|Syzygium sp.||Lilly Pilly|
|Ulmus sp.||Elms (large)|
Sydney Water is responsible for the wastewater pipes from our network up to the property connection point.
The blockage is likely to be in Sydney Water's pipes if:
If this is the case, please call us on 13 20 90 24/7 to report the issue. We'll send a crew to the site to investigate.
Property owners are responsible for the private wastewater pipes on their property up to and including where they connect to our pipes (the connection point). The blockage is likely to be in your private pipes if:
If this is the case, please contact a licensed plumber to clear the blockage in your pipes.
You can claim for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses:
Before you fill out the claim form, please ensure that:
If your licensed plumber finds that your private wastewater pipes have collapsed under a public road or public footpath and we verify that the collapse can’t be repaired without excavating, we may be able to help with the repair at no cost to you through the Collapsed Private Service in Public Land Program (conditions apply). Note that we can't reimburse you or your plumber for any plumbing costs related to this work.
Find out more from the Collapsed Private Services in Public Land Program: Guide for customers (256KB). You should also read section 8.2 of the Customer Contract (6MB).