Blocked sewer and septic lines
Call PSE first to prevent cross bore danger
When you have a sewer or septic line blockage outside the walls of your home, call PSE to meet your plumber on the scene and check for potentially dangerous cross bores.
If you are contacted by Hydromax USA regarding a sewer or septic line inspection, be assured that they are an authorized PSE service partner working to ensure your safety.
What to do
To safely clear a blocked sewer or septic line:
- Determine if the blockage is within the walls of your home. Only outdoor blockages pose a risk.
- If you think the blockage is outside, ask your plumber to call PSE at 1-888-225-5773 at least one hour before attempting to clear it. We'll immediately dispatch a technician, who can usually arrive at your location within 60 minutes.
- Working with your plumber, the technician will locate the sewer and gas lines and make sure it's safe to proceed. This service is free of charge.
Your plumber can help
Your plumber or drain-cleaning professional may recommend inserting a camera in your sewer to look for cross bores. This is a good practice, and if a cross bore is found, PSE will reimburse you for the camera inspection. However, you should always call PSE to work with your plumber to precisely locate both your sewer and gas lines before using a cutting tool, because a cross bore may be concealed behind other obstructions and not be visible to the plumber's camera.
Safety tips for sewer clearing professionals
Read these safety tips for professionals working with sewers in the PSE service territory.
What is a cross bore?
If natural gas was installed in your neighborhood without digging trenches, a gas pipeline may have been inadvertently inserted through a sewer or septic line, even for homes without natural gas service. This is called a “cross bore”.
Cross bores are safe unless they become damaged by cutting tools that clear blocked sewer and septic lines. Rupturing these pipelines would allow natural gas to enter your home and endanger your safety.
How cross bores happen
For many years, utilities nationwide have installed gas pipelines by boring underground rather than digging trenches, to avoid tearing up paving and landscaping. Existing underground pipes and wires are marked before work begins, whenever possible.
However, sewer and septic lines may go unnoticed because they're not regularly mapped and are undetectable using above-ground locating devices. Cross bores are a rare side effect that occurs when the machine used to install gas pipelines inadvertently bores through sewers, leaving the gas pipelines vulnerable to damage by cutting tools.
PSE's sewer inspection service partner, Hydromax USA, examines all new trenchless installations of PSE natural gas pipelines to ensure that no cross bores have been created. Additionally, they check at-risk sewer and septic lines near past trenchless installations.
Hydromax USA drives white trucks with PSE logos, and their employees carry PSE badges. They've already discovered hundreds of cross bores within PSE's natural gas service area and find more every week.
When Hydromax USA needs access to private property, they will leave door hangers, call you and mail letters asking you to call 1-800-371-3886 for an appointment. Sewer examinations are designed to ensure your safety and are paid for by PSE. If a PSE cross bore is found, PSE pays to repair the portion of sewer damaged by it.
A technician with PSE's cross bore service partner, Hydromax USA, places a robotic camera down a sewer to inspect for a natural gas pipeline and observes the images on a monitor.