What are sewers?
Sanitary sewers are underground pipes that carry wastewater from homes and businesses to a sewage treatment plant where it is treated. Everything you pour down your drains or flush down your toilet goes into a sanitary sewer.

Why is the Township cleaning and inspecting the sanitary sewers?

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Philadelphia Water Department have insisted that Cheltenham Township inspect the entire sewer system in the Township. The cleaning and inspection is primarily to determine the condition of the sewers so that we can repair the sewer system as necessary. The cleaning also helps to prevent blockages and backups by removing built-up debris, deposits, tree roots, grease and cooking oil, grit and sand.

How are the sewers cleaned?
A high-pressure nozzle is used to flush water down the sewer pipes. The dirt and debris are sucked up through a manhole by a large vacuum truck.

How are the sewers inspected?
A remotely operated video camera is placed into the sewer pipe to record its condition. From the video, it is determined if repairs are required. Some inspections may require other techniques, such as smoke or dye testing,

Are the sewers cleaned and inspected at the same time?
Some of the sewers are cleaned and inspected at the same time while other are cleaned and inspected at separate times.

How long does it take to clean the sewers on each street?
Some can be done in about a day, while others can take longer. It depends on the length and condition of the pipe.

Do I need to do anything before the cleaning and inspection of the sewers on my street?
No, however, occasionally during the cleaning and inspection process, air pressure in the sewer can cause water to splash out through toilets and sinks. This does not damage your sewer system and the water that comes out is the water that is normally in the home's system (drain traps), not the water from the sanitary sewer in the street. Please take note: it is suggested you consider taking the following precautions:
  •  Close the lids on all toilet bowls when not in use.
  •  Insert drain plugs in all sinks and bathtubs when not in use.
  •  Remove all floor mats in bathrooms and around the base of the toilet.
  •  Place an old towel around the base of toilets.
  •  If you have a backflow device installed in your house, ensure that it is free of debris and operating properly.
You may put things back as they were when the cleaning/inspection equipment has moved off your street.

Sometimes the sewer cleaning and inspection leaves an odor in the home or you may experience gurgling or bubbling water in the toilet bowl or tub. If this does occur, run some water down the sink and bathtub drains, and flush the toilets. After a short time, any odor should also disappear.

Can I use the toilets and my water while the cleaning/inspection of the sewer is occurring on my street?
Yes, however, be careful as air pressure in the sewer during the cleaning and inspection can sometimes cause water to splash out through toilets, and sinks. Remember to close the lids on all toilet bowls when not in use, and insert drain plugs in all sinks and bathtubs when not in use.

How will I know when the cleaning/inspection is happening on my street?
You can check the Township’s website for the current contractor locations. Also, when the contractor is working on your street, they will post no parking signs and you will see their equipment on the street during the day.

If you have any issues or concerns, please call the Township Engineer at 215-887-6200, ext. 113.