water and sewer service emergencies

Link to all frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Water and Sewer Service Emergencies FAQs

What should I do if I observe a possible water main break or sewer back-up?
To report a water main break or sewer back-up, please call YCUA seven days a week, 24 hours a day at 734-544-7316 or 734-484-4600.
What should I do if my sewer is backing up in my house or business?
Click here to view a PDF document with information on what to do when a sewer backup occurs.
What should I do if my street catch basin or storm drain is backed up causing my street to flood?
If you live in the City of Ypsilanti, call the City Department of Public Works at 734-483-9510.

If you live in the Township of Ypsilanti, call the Washtenaw County Drain Commission at 734-222-6860.

To help prevent future storm drain backups, help keep your neighborhood storm drains clear. When storm drains clog or get overwhelmed, streets turn into rivers and basements can fill with water. Sometimes heavy accumulations of leaves and branches jam the drains, slowing or stopping water from flowing through the grates. If the grate on your street is blocked, use a rake or shovel to clear the debris. Place the waste in a yard debris container or trash can.

Consider adopting a storm drain to assist in keeping out waterways clean. 

Additional information can be found at Washtenaw County drains.
How long will the water be off?
The time will vary depending on the water main break, which is usually the reason for water shut-offs. YCUA will keep affected residents updated on water shut-offs with the Everbridge notification system.  Visit www.washtenaw.org/alerts to sign up!
How do I turn my water off at the curb?
There is a $35 charge to turn your water off at the curb. Call YCUA at 734-484-4600 to schedule a technician to come out. If your request is after hours, call 734-544-7316. There is a $135 charge for an emergency turn-off and $200 charge for a holiday call out.
What is that horrible smell in my house?

A weird smell in a house can come from numerous sources, including appliances, furniture, carpets, fabrics or issues like mold or mildew. Occasionally, odors may be caused by sewer gas, natural gas leaks or animals that have died between walls, in attics or under decks.

Odor  l  Garbage Disposal  l  Plumbing  l  Sewer Smell in Basement

Odors happen when molecules from certain substances enter the air. Some common culprits include:

  • Bacteria: Some strains of bacteria give off foul-smelling compounds when breaking down organic matter like food waste.
  • Fungus: Molds and mildew emit volatile organic compounds and are often the cause when a house smells musty.
  • Food: As it spoils, food stinks largely due to the presence of bacteria, mold and yeast. When you cook, compounds from strong-smelling foods like fish and garlic enter the air and cause odors.
  • Human waste: Problems with plumbing can cause waste or gases to back up, causing odors.
  • Pets: Sweat and bacteria that linger on dogs can lead to unpleasant odors, and waste in kitty litter can make areas smell unpleasant.

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Garbage disposal

Food particles can accumulate in your garbage disposal and give off foul odors as they break down. Once per week, clean out your garbage disposal with a specially designed garbage disposer cleaner or make your own by running the disposal with six ice cubes, a tablespoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of bleach and three thin lemon slices inside. The ice helps knock food particles loose. Bleach kills bacteria, and lemon slices help with odor.

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A sewage smell in a house that comes and goes or is persistent could be caused by blockages in your plumbing.

Wastewater (anything that gets flushed down a drain) is directed to the sewer main for processing. Within the wastewater system, you could create two categories: the drains and pipes found inside your home, and the sewer line that runs underground on your property from the home to the sewer main. Both sets of pipes can suffer clogs or blockages, however, they can be caused for different reasons and affect your home in different ways. 

Simple clogs that affect an individual drain or toilet can usually be cleared with a plunger or snake. However, an issue in the sewer line is more difficult to locate and fix, and might require the experience of a licensed plumber.

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Sewer Smell In the Basement
Some drains have visible P-traps, such as the one under the sink, while others have a hidden P-trap, like a shower or a toilet. When a bathroom fixture or faucet is not used regularly, the P-trap eventually dries out, allowing the sewer odors to travel up the drain. It happens more frequently during winters.
Pee Trap
The sewer smell is often caused by a dried-out P-trap in a drain pipe. A P-trap is a section of pipe that normally stays filled with water -- this blocks sewer gas (hydrogen sulfide) from entering your home. Breathing hydrogen sulfide can irritate your eyes and throat, cause shortness of breath, and lead to fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. Pouring water into your floor drain may be enough to fix the problem; if it persists, call a plumber.

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