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Sewer Blockage Safety for Customers

man unblocking drain

Removing Sewer Blockage Safely

If your sewer line does back up, Nicor Gas recommends hiring a professional drain cleaning (“rooter”) company or sewer contractor. The safest method of clearing the blockage is to first have all underground facilities on your property located by calling 811. If it is determined that underground facilities intersect with your sewer line, the drain cleaning company should use a camera to visually inspect the blocked line to ensure no gas pipes, cables, or conduit exist within the sewer line.

While it is common practice to use a mechanical rotary device to root out the blockage, doing so without locating utility facilities or without a visual camera inspection of the sewer line is discouraged and could be dangerous. If a gas pipe has been bored through the sewer line, it could be damaged, resulting in a loss of service and a potentially hazardous leak condition. If a natural gas pipe is found in your sewer line, stop all work immediately and call Nicor Gas at 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) and report it as a natural gas emergency. Be sure to let the customer service representative know that you have discovered a cross bore. We will take the appropriate steps to remove the gas line and make the area safe.

If you believe you have damaged a gas pipe in a sewer line by pulling, nicking or breaking it:

  • LEAVE the area immediately, warning others in the area as you leave. Keep everyone away from the area until emergency assistance arrives. 
  • AVOID touching anything that may cause a spark. This includes lighters, matches, cigarettes, flashlights, light switches and telephones in the area of the suspected leak. Wait until you are a safe distance away before using your cell phone. 
  • CALL Nicor Gas at 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) and emergency responders at 911 once you are in a safe place, out of the area of the suspected leak. Stay away until emergency personnel indicate it is safe to return.