It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare: smelly water and chunks of grimy debris making their way up rather than down the pipes. A sewer backup is never a good situation, which is why it’s important to understand the causes and prevention methods.
Here’s what homeowners should know about sewer backups:
Common causes of sewer backups
Residential sewer lines are roughly 6 inches or more in diameter, which means a significant amount of solid waste and debris has to accumulate for the pipes to clog, as noted by SF Gate Home Guides. Items such as hair, cooking grease and other solid materials can create the clog. The result is that waste enters the pipes and can’t pass through the clog, so it travels back up the pipes and into your home through overflowing toilets and drains.
Among the most typical reasons for a sewer backup are tree roots and shrubs that grow into the pipes, creating cracks and holes. Once inside, the roots can catch debris and form a blockage that prevents proper water flow. If the trees causing the issue are owned by the city, you shouldn’t be responsible for the cleanup and repair costs. However, if private trees caused the issue, the homeowner will likely have to cover the payments.
3. Old or damaged pipes
While pipe materials are durable, they aren’t made to last forever. Over time, sewer pipes begin to crack and deteriorate, which can often cause them to collapse. In the event of this kind of damage, you’ll need to repair or replace the pipes as soon as possible.
4. Main municipal line problems
When clogs, blockages, punctures, cracks or other issues occur to the main city lines, the sewage backup can begin to affect residential homes in nearby areas. According to Plumbing Supply Group, municipalities that have combined sewage and storm water systems are also more vulnerable to backups caused by severe rainfall and other extreme weather. In these cases, you’ll want to contact a city operator to investigate the problem.
You’ll know your sewer line is compromised when your drains are running slowly despite your best efforts to clear them. Additionally, gurgling sounds and foul smells coming from drains can indicate that clogs, blockages, cracks or other problems are affecting your system’s performance.
Ways to tackle and prevent sewer backup problems
If you notice the signs of these common sewer backup problems, don’t hesitate to schedule a professional inspection to troubleshoot the issue. A licensed professional can better identify the problem, clean out your pipes to clear away clogs and blockages as well as spearhead necessary pipe repairs. Many experts also recommend replacing your line with plastic pipes to prevent tree-root blockages and other damages.
As far as the day-to-day goes, you can prevent sewer backups by being mindful of what you’re flushing down toilets and putting down sink drains. For instance, so-called flushable wipes are actually a common clogged sewer line culprit, so trash them instead of flushing. Paper towels and feminine products can also cause issues, as they don’t break down as quickly as toilet paper. Cooking oil, grease, coffee grounds and eggshells should also never make their way down your drains.
Being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of water sewer line repairs and replacements.