Watch CBS News

Homeowners Stuck With $24,000 In Repairs After Basement Twice Floods With Sewage, And Utility Shifts Blame

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's every homeowner's nightmare; a flooded basement. A CBS 2 viewer said his Clarendon Hills basement was swamped with raw sewage – not once, but twice – costing the family thousands of dollars in repairs.

Bill and Mary Maloney woke up one morning to the sound of running water in their basement, but it was worse than expected.

"It was 20 inches of sewage," Bill said.

"The smell was putrid," Mary said.

The flooding destroyed their basement, all their memories, and the money they invested in renovations.

"This area was a finished family room," Bill said as he took CBS 2 on a tour of the basement. "This was a wall with family photos."

The Maloneys had to rip out all the tiling they had put up on their basement wall, stripping it down to the studs. Flooring and furniture in the basement also were ruined.

When the flooding started, Bill called the Flagg Creek Water Reclamation District to check the sewer, but they told him, " this was not a Flagg Creek issue, it was our issue."

Flagg Creek left the couple with a flood of raw sewage to clean up. They said they then called a restoration company to remove it.

"They said immediately, 'This is not normal,'" Bill said.

That company discovered Flagg Creek had not checked the correct manhole, according to Bill.

"In my opinion, they were grossly negligent, because they don't know their system and they went to the wrong area," Bill said.

Bill said Flagg Creek crews went to a manhole down the street, when they should have gone to one around the corner.

The restoration company warned the couple that, until the sewer was emptied, the flooding might continue. Sure enough, the very next day, their basement filled up again.

Flagg Creek returned to fix the problem after the Maloneys told them the sewer was clogged, but the damage already was done.

"Flagg Creek is denying any responsibility," Bill said.

Flagg Creek said other factors might be to blame.

Since the home was built in 1942, the pipes leading to the sewer are out of date. Flagg Creek said that made it difficult for them to locate the problem at first.

"It just doesn't make any sense. They don't know their own system?" Bill said.

Flagg Creek also said problems with those pipes are the homeowners' responsibility, but Bill said Flagg Creek checked the wrong spot in the sewer.

"I want them to admit that they were wrong, and I want my basement rebuilt," he said.

The repairs to the basement cost the Maloneys $24,000. They hope insurance will cover some of the cost.

If you have an older home, or never had your pipes inspected, this could happen to you. For advice on how to keep your basement sewage-free, click here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.