Wastewater blockages

A wastewater blockage can occur when there's something inside a pipe that stops it working properly. 

Blockages are usually caused:

  • by tree roots that have found a way into the pipes
  • when someone puts something down the toilet that it's not designed for, eg wet wipes or other hygiene products
  • by stormwater entering the wastewater network and overloading it during heavy rainfall.

You can claim for reasonable out of pocket expenses if you're a:

  • licensed plumber and have found a blockage in our wastewater pipes
  • customer and have paid a licensed plumber who found a blockage in our wastewater pipes.

What you need to know before you make a claim

Before you fill out the claim form, please ensure that:
  • the plumber calls us on 13 20 90 to get a job number. This number needs to be included on the form
  • read our Claiming for wastewater blockages guide
  • you have all invoices and supporting documentation ready to attach
  • you provide a timesheet or excavation details if the invoice doesn't give a detailed account of the work completed.
Ready to make a claim?
Use our   Wastewater blockage claim form.

We'll send you confirmation once we receive your claim. It may take up to eight weeks to process your claim.

What we're responsible for

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:

  • the overflow is visible beyond your property boundary, eg  from a manhole located on public land
  • your neighbours are experiencing the same problem
  • there is widespread flooding in your local area
  • you're experiencing a continuous overflow and you're not currently using water on your property.
If this is the case, please call us on 13 20 90 (24 hours/7 days) to report the issue. We'll send a crew to the site to investigate.

What property owners are responsible for

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 in your private pipes if:
  • your neighbours aren't experiencing a blockage
  • your drainage isn't shared with other properties
  • there is no flooding in your local area
  • you're only experiencing an overflow when using water on your property.
If this is the case, please contact a licensed plumber to clear the blockage in your pipes.

Not sure if the blockage is in your private pipes or our network?
Please call us on 13 20 90 and we'll ask you some simple questions to identify the location of the blockage.

If a 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'd like to help.

We may offer to repair the collapsed section of pipe at our cost (conditions apply). We can't reimburse you or your plumber for any plumbing costs related to this work.

For more information:

Diagram showing tree roots breaking wastewater pipes

If you're planting trees near wastewater pipes, make sure you know which ones to avoid to prevent damage to your pipes.