If you’ve ever had a problem with sewage backups in your home, you know the horrors this problem can cause. Sewage systems are among the most neglected building services and often become a concern when problems arise. A sewage backup is the foul and unwelcome overflow of wastewater that escapes from the sewer lines to your home’s environment through sinks, toilets, or drains due to improper draining. When you have a sewer backup, the mess and potential dangers can harm you and your living environment. Therefore, understanding a sewer backup’s signs, causes, and mitigation measures is crucial in preventing or responding effectively to their occurrence.

Understanding the Sewer System

When you flush your toilet or wash dishes in your sink, the wastewater flows into your home’s sewer system. The sewer system includes pipes, receiving drains, manholes, screening chambers, and pumping stations. The primary purpose of a sewer system is to guide wastewater from your household to a discharge point, such as a sewage treatment plant.

Your home’s main sewer line is typically located at the lowest point of your property. All the wastewater from your household is directed to the main sewer line and then transported to a septic tank or the public city sewer line connection.

The interconnection of pipes in your home increases the risk of water contamination in the wake of a sewer backup. Sometimes, the wastewater may find its way into your clean water supply pipes. This contamination causes a health hazard and a potential plumbing emergency.

Ordinary Causes of Sewer Backups

Sewage backups cause huge problems for homeowners with little to no warning, and that’s why it’s important to be on the lookout for potential signs that a sewage backup might be imminent. You must contact a reputable plumber if you encounter the signs below.

Clogged Pipes

A clog, or blockage, is an accumulation of solid material obstructing your drainage system. This can be caused by a pile-up of what might seem like harmless household items, such as paper towels, or solid substances like hair, soap scum, and cooking grease. With the slightest amount of water and time, these clogs wreak havoc on homes and drain systems. A backup from one drain will only affect the area of your home where that particular drain is located. However, the backup will occur in multiple drains across your home if the clog exists in the main sewer line.

Tree Roots

Installing pipes underground makes them susceptible to holes and cracks due to the growing nearby tree roots. The water and nutrients in sewer lines attract and facilitate the development of roots. Typically, the roots penetrate the sewer line as they grow and spread out, causing the pipes to get clogged and back up the sewage into your home. Alternatively, the roots wrap themselves around the pipes and compress them. Also, it’s essential to realize that trees in your neighbor’s yard may be the source of the problem.

Broken Sewer Pipes

Your pipes’ age and material affect their vulnerability to damage. Usually, old households still use their original sewer systems, most of which are made of cast iron or clay. Over time, these materials deteriorate and are prone to collapse, resulting in sewage backups. Additionally, earth movements like earthquakes and land shifts disturb the pipe placement in older sewer systems, causing them to disintegrate.

Intense Rainfall

While public sewer systems can handle a lot of water simultaneously, too much rain may overload these systems. When this happens, the water pumps reach their maximum capacity and cause a sewage backup into your home. Also, during floods, the ground may get saturated and increase the quantity of water in your sewer system. Furthermore, some households have gutters and downspouts connected to their sewer systems. The routed rainwater may strain your sewer system, increasing the probability of a sewage backup.

Issues in the Municipal Sewer System

The odds of your sewer system getting compromised after an issue arises in the municipal sewer line are high. Therefore, if there is a blockage in the public sewer line, you should anticipate a sewage backup in your system.

Signs Your Sewer Is Backing Up

A sewage backup occurs when the wastewater in the main sewer line can’t flow freely, causing the wastewater to back up into your home. To mitigate damages, we recommend contacting a plumbing contractor as soon as you observe the following signs:

  • Sluggish drains
  • A strong or foul smell of waste matter in your home
  • Gurgling sounds or bubbles near the drain
  • Water backflow in toilets, showers, or tubs
  • Scattered overgrown vegetation, ponding, and other strange yard changes

Preventive Measures

Sewer backups are a serious and often underestimated problem for homeowners. There is no one particular cause of sewer backups, but rather various reasons might contribute to it. As much as avoiding a sewer backup can be tough, there are several things you can do to reduce the risks.

Adhering to a Maintenance Schedule

A plumbing professional should examine your sewage line every few years. Good plumbers will check for any signs of damage, clear blockages, and incorporate technologies like sewer cameras to inspect for cracks.

Replacement of Your Older Sewer System

If you have a home with old cast-iron or clay sewer lines, consider replacing them with plastic pipes. Plastic pipes are made to be resistant to tree roots and can last longer than clay and cast-iron pipes. Despite being expensive, it is a long-term solution to a deteriorated sewer system.

Don’t Dispose of Cooking Grease Down the Drains

Grease will solidify and clog your drain. The same applies to small solid items like food, coffee grounds, and hair.

Avoid Flushing Sanitary Products

Ensure that you only flush toilet paper since it will disintegrate. Other products, such as baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, and paper towels, should be disposed of as trash.

Effects of Sewage Backups

Human waste is a source of disease-causing microorganisms. Therefore, when sewer backups occur, the chances of you and your family contacting raw sewage and falling ill increase. Mold and mildew also thrive from the nutrients present in wastewater. With time, your home may also experience extensive moss growth. In addition, backed-up wastewater can wreak havoc on your home, destroying your furniture, walls, floors, and the house’s structure.

Responding to a Sewer Backup

Sometimes, your preventive measures may be insufficient, or sewage backup may become inevitable due to weather elements. Severe sewer backups can be dangerous. As a result, you can adopt these safety procedures if your sewer line backs up:

  • Evacuating any contaminated articles from your home immediately for disinfection
  • Ventilating your house
  • Turning off the electrical appliances and power outlets in the flooding room
  • Turning off your water supply and minimizing the use of plumbing fixtures
  • Contacting a plumbing company for diagnosis and repairs

Rely on the Pros

Are you experiencing frequent sewage backups? Whether your sewage backups are recurrent or you’ve started identifying some signs that a sewage backup is imminent, reach out to us immediately. At Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we will assist you in assessing the situation and recommend a durable cause of action. We are a reputable family-owned plumbing and HVAC services provider in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. With three decades of experience in the HVAC industry, our team of qualified professionals is devoted to offering you quality HVAC, plumbing, and indoor air quality solutions to improve your living conditions and enhance your comfort. If you have any concerns or queries regarding our services, contact Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning today in Troutdale, OR, Vancouver, WA, or Eagle, ID to learn more!

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Brandon Bird
Brandon Bird

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