How To Prevent Sewer Backup

San Rafael

(415) 942-6565

Santa Rosa

(707) 452-3464

Sewer backups can cause multiple problems for your plumbing system and your home. Dealing with a sewer drain clog can cause serious health risks as well as damage to things like the shower, sink, washing machine, and toilet drains. A sewage backup occurs when the sewer lines from things such as your septic tank are unable to flow to the municipal sewer system, therefore leaving large amounts of harmful waste within your sewer line.

In this blog, we will take a look at the most common causes of such hazardous sewer clogs, what the specific warning signs to look out for are so you can get ahead of resolving the issue, what to do in the event of a sewage backup, and what exactly can be done to stop blockage from occurring in your sewer line. We will also discuss what professional methods can be used to unclog sewer backups.

What Causes Sewer Lines to Back Up?

There are several possible causes of a sewer backup that you may not even be aware of but that are entirely preventable.

  • Putting unflushable items down the toilet – Human waste and toilet paper are the only things that should go down the toilets. Anything else will clog drains. Paper towels, wipes, or feminine products, even if any of them claim to be flushable, should not be put down the toilet.
  • Fats and oils going down the drains – Grease, fat, and oil can harden and create clogged drains.
  • Tree roots – Roots from trees and bushes can penetrate the pipes in your sewer line because they are attracted to the water. This can especially be a problem with clay pipes which can allow roots to enter through cracks and holes in the piping.
  • Damage to sewer pipes – The ground moving from events like earthquakes, shifting soil, and sinkholes can cause damage to your sewer pipes, which can then cause a blockage.
  • Heavy rainfall/combined pipelines – Combining raw sewage and stormwater within the same pipeline can cause a massive overflow, especially after a large amount of rain. Heavy rain can cause sewage backups on its own, depending on the amount of rain. However, having the rainwater and sanitary sewer within the same pipeline can cause even more significant problems.
  • Aged sewer system – Older sewer systems can be made of cast iron or clay, which can break down and eventually even collapse with age.
  • Main sewer line issues – There may even be problems beyond your control. Any problem with the main sewer line in your area can very possibly affect your sewer lines. In this case, contacting your local municipality as soon as possible is best.

Warning Signs of Sewer Backups

With any possible sewer backup, there are several things to watch out for that are definitely red flags:

  • Mold – Mold and mildew have ample space to develop within sewage, and if that sewage is getting backed up into your home, it creates an opportunity for that mold to start growing throughout your house.
  • Foul odors – If rancid smells come from drains or water bubbling out of drains, this is a vital sign of a sewage backup.
  • Damage to house/property – If you notice damage to your floors, ceilings, walls, furniture, or yard, it could be because sewer water leaks from drains or pipes.
  • Gurgling noises – Hearing gurgling when running sinks or toilets means air is trapped from the blockage in the pipes.
  • Slow drains – Any sink, toilet, or shower drain taking longer than usual to empty the water could be a sign of a backup, mainly if this is occurring in multiple drains simultaneously.
  • Wet floor drains – Wet Floor drains can be the first signs of a sewer backup since these drains will be closer to the ground. If a floor drain is wet, it could be because water has flooded back up.

What to do When you Have a Sewage Backup Emergency

A sewage emergency has happened. What are the steps you take next?

1) Sewage is a major health hazard, so keep away from the affected area and make sure that you wash thoroughly any part of yourself that came into contact with the sewage.

2) If you can, remove any items from the area to avoid damage.

3) Switch off all electrical systems, especially do not go near any electrical circuit near the sewage.

4) Open all doors and windows to ventilate.

5) Don’t use any plumbing fixtures; turn off the water supply.

6) Inform your insurance company as soon as you can.

7) Contact a qualified plumber to start working on the problem.

8) Get on clean-up ASAP on whatever items and areas you can safely prevent permanent damage.

How to Avoid Sewer Backups

So, how can you prevent a sewer backup from happening in the first place?

Keep garbage out of the sewer line by not putting non-flushable items down the toilet, only putting food waste down the sink if you have a garbage disposal, and always running the water whenever you operate the garbage disposal.

Keep hair and grease out of the drains as much as you can. Never pour grease, fat, or oil down the drain; put them in a heat-resistant container and dispose of them when cooled. Ensure there are wire meshes over drains that can catch hair and prevent it from clogging in the drain pipes. Clean these off frequently.

Make sure that you route your gutters and sump pumps to storm sewers and not regular sewer lines so that there is no overflow of rainwater flooding into the regular sewer that creates massive sanitary sewer backups and possible damage to the line.

Regularly clean out drains in your home by using something like a drain cleaner (non-corrosive) or any homemade remedy that works to flush out drains properly. Do this once a month to keep drains as clean as possible to prevent any buildup.

Have your old sewer lines replaced with plastic piping. Aging sewage systems can cause backups and damage. Replacing clay or cast iron with plastic reduces the chance of sewer line cracks and breakdowns that could lead to tree root intrusion.

Install a backwater valve or a sump pump. A backflow valve can close and prevent sewage from entering your home if there is a sewage backup, and a sump pump can remove standing water that builds up in a crawlspace or basement, preventing flooding damage and mold growth. Make sure to have them properly installed by a licensed plumber.

Finally, consider having a routine sewer line inspection and cleanout performed by a licensed plumber. Regular sewer maintenance helps assure you that there are no troubles regarding your sewer lines.

How Professionals Can Unblock Your Sewer Lines

How exactly will a professional plumber go about examining and unblocking your sewer?

Video inspection technology can be used to analyze the interior of the drains and sewer to identify where the problem is.

Hydrojetting is one tool plumbers can use to solve a sewer backup problem. This includes using a concentrated blast of water to shoot through the pipes and clear the blockage.

Rooter services are provided to care for tree root problems that may be causing clogged pipes. A skilled plumber can root out any troublesome shrub and tree roots that may have invaded your pipes.

A drain snake is another technique often used to unclog drains and stop sewer backup. This flexible metal cable is used to reach and break down difficult clogs far within the drain.

John Owens Services specializes in cleaning sewer drains. We employ the above-mentioned techniques to tackle any clogged drains and sewer pipes. If you are experiencing slow-moving drains, tree roots, or any sign of sewage backup, you can call to have your sewer line inspected by our expert team, where we will quickly locate the problem and proceed to dismantle it with the best and most modern technology so that you can return to the safe use of your plumbing. We also install sump pumps to help you avoid flooding and water damage in basements, crawlspaces, or any place that experiences significant rainwater.

Knowing how to prevent a sewer backup and what to do if one does occur is essential. Follow the guidelines in this article to be sure that you are doing everything in your power to prevent a backup catastrophe and that you continue to have healthy plumbing and a functioning sewer system.

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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464



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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464