Common Causes of Sewer Backups

Sewer Backups

You probably never think about your sewer system pipes until they don’t work properly. Sewage problems, like sewage backups, can happen to anyone, in any building, and at just about any time. When wastewater isn’t draining properly and not addressed immediately, wastewater will continue to fill the sewer lines and drainpipes, resulting in a backup. A sewer backup is something that you want to avoid as much as possible.

Plumbing systems have to handle everything that goes down the drain. These systems catch hair, grease, laundry detergent, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and garbage disposal waste. When these items go down the drain, these items can clog pipes and cause a sewer backup. There are other causes of sewer backups that can be unseen, lurk beneath the ground and floors of a home or business.

Common Causes of Sewer Backups

  • Clogged or Blocked Sewer Pipes: The most common type of sewer backup is due to clogged pipes. Sewer clogs are easily preventable with proper care and maintenance. If a backup is affecting more than one toilet or sink, it could be a sign of an issue with the main sewer line that would require the use of a plunger or drain cleaner.
    • Use drains properly. Here are some quick tips:
      • Avoid pouring fats, oils, coffee grounds, rice, pasta, and other solids down your kitchen drain. When the grease cools down it solidifies in the pipes which creates blockages in the pipes. 
      • Do not use the toilet as a trash bin. Items such as feminine products, “flushable” wipes, diapers, paper towels, and facial tissues will all create backups in the pipes. Only flush toilet paper. If it does not dissolve almost instantly in water, do NOT flush it.
  • Old or Damaged Sewer Pipes: Sewer backups could be due to damaged, broken, or collapsed sewer lines. Sewer pipes are usually made of clay, Orangeburg, PVC, or cast iron. While these materials are durable, it’s inevitable for sewer pipes to deteriorate and eventually collapse as they age. Any one of these problems will lead to big issues for a home or building’s sewer line.
    • Get a sewer line inspection to check the condition of your sewer system every five years. The professional plumber will look for signs of damage, cracks, and clogs. 
  • Tree Roots in Sewer Pipes: Even though you may not have a tree on your property or near your sewer line, tree roots can travel far and grow into the cracks of the sewer lines. Tree and shrub roots cause damage, holes, and blockages as they flourish. 
    • How to get rid of tree roots: Contact a sewer line professional for a sewer camera inspection. This is a non-destructive procedure that will easily find the exact location and extent of the problem. The sewer line professional will then be able to get rid of the problem by cutting the roots and repairing or replacing the pipe.
  • Sewer-Sanitary or Municipal Sewer Blockage: These issues are usually detected and treated before they become a problem, however, a sewer main blockage could impact residential and commercial sewer lines in the area. When a blockage in the municipal sewer is not detected immediately, wastewater can back up into floor drains. 
    • Call a plumbing expert and contact your local public works office to report the problem if water is rapidly entering the lower level of a building or basement.

How to Prevent a Sewer Backup

  • Clean your sewer lines
  • Be mindful of what goes down the drain and flushed down the toilet
  • Get a sewer line inspection
  • Route gutters, downspouts and sump pumps properly
  • Replace old sewer lines
  • Tackle drainage issues

Do You Have Frequent Sewer Backups? 

Wondering what would make a toilet gurgle, a shower not to drain as it should, or create a smelly, soggy yard?  The best way to identify the cause of a plumbing issue or sewer backup is to have a professional plumber inspect the sewer system. They will perform an inspection, show you what is causing the problem, and determine an appropriate solution. When it comes to sewers, you want a permanent solution, not a temporary fix. Contact the professionals at Tony’s Drain & Sewer Cleaning, our goal is to solve your plumbing issues and repair them in a timely manner. Contact us today!