Sewage backs up in District Heights family's home

(WARNING: Some of the images in the video story above may be disturbing to some viewers.)

Imagine sewage backing up into your home. Not just once-- but five times in the past few months. A District Heights family wants the problem fixed, and they weren't getting the help from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) that they wanted. So they called FOX 5 to get some answers.  
Since December, the family's life has been turned upside down, with the sewage backing up over and over again. The house is in a constant state of clean up.

"Our house is terrible looking right now," said Evone Cluff.
Overflowing sewage ruined the carpet and wood floor, and a film of filth covers the bathtub. It's no way for the family to live.

"It was coming out under the toilet. It was coming out through the sink it was coming out through the bathtub," said Cluff.
Cell phone video shows just how bad it got. The tub is filled with a murky, dark-colored liquid bubbling up.  It flooded the floors, seeped into the closets and damaged their clothes. It's been like this for two months.  

Now, Cluff worries what it's doing to her 4-year-old son, who has asthma.

"He'll say 'I don't feel right. There's something wrong with my breathing,'" Cluff said.
The family called a plumber, who replaced a sewer line on their property, but the seeping sewage didn't stop. They complained to WSSC, but say the agency was slow to respond.

"We've been calling them. It's been back and forth," she said.
FOX 5 called WSSC to find out what was holding things up.  

"There has been a lack of plumber reporting back to WSSC, which has really delayed the process more than we like," said Jerry Irvine, public affairs manager for WSSC.  

He said the plumbers the family hired should have been registered with the agency, but they were not. The agency says not all licensed plumbers are registered with WSSC. That's important because when it comes to water and sewer lines repairs, registered plumbers are familiar with how the agency works.

"There are very specific steps, procedures, codes that they need to follow to alert us that certain work has been done, which triggers work orders," he said.
While FOX 5 was at the house, a WSSC worker arrived. He informed Cluff that crews would be replacing the sewer line from the street to the main the next day because of problems with tree roots intruding. In the meantime, a contractor snaked the line.

"It should start to take care of itself in the next couple of days," said Irvine.
The family can't take much more.

"It smelled bad. We had toilet paper, used toilet paper on our bathroom floor. We had feces. We had feminine products," described Cluff.

They're in the process of filing a claim for all the damages with WSSC, and hope that the problem is fixed before the sewage backs up again.

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