6 Common Causes of Sewer Backups & How to Fix Them

A sewer backup is a significant plumbing problem for any home. Sewage and wastewater that fail to drain properly can back up into your home through the toilets, sinks, and drains. A sewer backup can cause extensive damage to your home and put your family at risk of illness.

6 Common Causes of Sewer Backups & How to Fix Them

There are several common causes of sewer backups. Knowing them can help you take steps to prevent such a situation from happening in your own home. Otherwise, you’ll need to call the experts at Bienvenu Brothers. We have the experience and expertise to handle any sewer backup problem, big or small.

What Are The Sewer And Main Sewer Lines?

The wastewater goes into your home’s sewer system whenever you use your toilet or wash something down your sink. The sewer system has several parts, such as manholes, underground pipes, and pumping stations, that send wastewater from your home to sewage treatment plants. From there, the wastewater is treated before being released back into the environment.

Your home’s main sewer line is usually located outside or in the lowest part of your home, like your basement or garage. It is where all the wastewater from your home is carried to your septic tank or the public city connection. The pipes inside your house are connected to the sewer lines. That is why a sewage backup can quickly become a health hazard and a plumbing emergency, as it can contaminate your water and cause serious illness to you and your loved ones.

What Are The Signs of a Sewage Backup?

A sewage backup occurs when the water can no longer flow freely through your home’s main sewer line due to a clog or blockage. When this happens, the water starts to back up into your home through drains, toilets and sinks. If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to call a professional plumber right away:

  • Bad Smell: If you smell or see signs of sewage in your home, it’s a sure sign that you have a sewer backup.
  • Slow-Moving Drains: If your drains are slow-moving, it’s likely due to a blockage in your sewer line.
  • Gurgling Noises: Do you hear your toilets gurgling? It could be a sign that your main sewer line is blocked. These sounds are due to air bubbles trying to escape the blockage.
  • Water Backing Up From Your Tub or Shower: If you notice water backing up from your tub or shower, it’s a sign that your sewer line is blocked.
  • Wet Floor Drains: The floor drains in your laundry or basement may start to overflow if your sewer line is backing up. These are usually the first areas you’ll find sewage backup even before it backs up into your toilets or sinks. If you notice any wetness around your floor drains, it’s important to call a professional plumber right away.
  • Changes in Your Yard: If you see changes in your yard, such as sinkholes, lush spots, or water pooling in areas where it never has before, it’s a sign that your main sewer line is blocked.

What Are The Most Common Causes of Sewer Backups?

There are several common causes of sewer backups. Some of the most common include:

1. Blocked or Clogged Pipes

Just like drain pipes in your home can become clogged with hair, grease, and soap buildup, your main sewer line can also become clogged. Over time, tree roots can also grow into and block your sewer line. This is one of the most common causes of a sewer backup.

A backup from a single drain will cause plumbing issues only in that area of your home. However, a clog or blockage in your main sewer line will cause sewage to back up into multiple drains throughout your home.

2. Tree Roots

One of the most common causes of sewer line blockage is tree roots. As trees and shrubs grow, their roots can penetrate your sewer line and cause a blockage. Tree roots are attracted to the water and nutrients in the sewer line and will continue to grow as long as they have access to it.

This problem is more common in older homes with clay piping. The roots can grow into small cracks and holes in the clay pipes and cause a blockage. Even if there’s no tree in your yard, the roots from a neighboring tree can still penetrate your sewer line.

3. Damaged Sewer Pipes

Earth movement is one of the most common causes of damaged sewer pipes. This can include things like earthquakes, sinkholes, and land shifts. When the ground moves, it can cause your sewer line to crack or break. This can lead to a blockage or a complete collapse of your sewer line.

A cracked or broken sewer pipe can then lead to a sewage backup in your home. This is why it’s important to have your sewer line inspected regularly, so any damage can be repaired before it leads to a sewage backup.

4. Heavy Rainfall

While public sewer systems can handle much water at once, too much rain can overload the system. When this happens, the water can back up and cause a sewage backup in your home.

This is especially common during periods of heavy rainfall or when there’s been a recent flood in your area. The excess water can saturate the ground and lead to an increased amount of water in the sewer line.

5. Sewer System Age

Older sewer systems are mostly made up of clay and cast iron piping. Although these materials are durable, they can eventually break down and crumble. Over time, these pipes can become cracked, broken, or completely collapsed. Even homes with PVC piping can experience problems as the pipes get older. The age of your sewer system is one of the most common causes of a sewage backup.

6. Municipal Sewer Issues

Even problems that occur in the municipal sewer system can cause a backup in your home. If there’s a blockage or problem with the main sewer line, it can lead to a sewage backup in your home.

Municipal sewer issues are usually out of your control. However, you can take steps to protect your home from a sewage backup. This includes calling the municipality as soon as you spot water getting into your basement.

Dangers of a Sewage Backup

A sewage backup can cause extensive damage to your home and pose a serious health risk to you and your family. Some of the dangers of a sewage backup include:

1. Health Risks – Sewage is full of harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause serious illness. When sewage backs up into your home, it can expose you and your family to these dangerous contaminants. You should avoid direct contact with raw sewage or breathing it in as you could catch diseases like Hepatitis A, Gastroenteritis, and E. Coli.

2. Property Damage – A sewage backup can damage your floors, walls, and furniture. In some cases, it can even lead to a complete collapse of your home.

3. Mold Growth – Sewage is full of nutrients that mold needs to grow. When sewage backs up into your home, it can quickly lead to the growth of mold and mildew.

Preventing Sewer Backups

It is not always possible to prevent a sewer backup. However, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of a sewage backup in your home:

• Inspect Your Sewer Line Regularly – You should have your sewer line inspected by a professional at least once every few years. This will allow them to identify any potential problems and fix them before they lead to a sewage backup.

• Don’t pour grease down your drains – Grease is one of the most common causes of sewer backups. You should avoid pouring grease down your drains as it can harden and cause a blockage.

• Don’t flush anything other than toilet paper – Flushing things like sanitary products, baby wipes, and paper towels can cause a blockage in your sewer line. You should only flush toilet paper down your toilets.

• Sewer Line Cleanout – Get a professional to clean your sewer line. This will remove any blockages or buildup that could cause a sewage backup.

• Replace Old Sewer Lines – If your sewer line is old, you should consider replacing it with plastic piping. This will help to prevent any damage that could lead to a sewage backup.

What You Should do if You Have a Sewer Backup

When you know the cause of your sewer backup, you can take steps to prevent it from happening again. However, if you have a sewage backup, there are some things you should do to protect your home and your family:

  • Sewage contains harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause diseases. You should avoid contact with raw sewage as much as possible. If you do come into contact with it, be sure to wash your hands and clothes thoroughly.
  • Sewage can damage your floors, walls, and furniture. If you have a sewage backup, you should remove any affected items from your home as soon as possible. These items will need to be cleaned or replaced.
  • Switch off all electrical power in the affected part of your home, and do not use any appliances or outlets in the affected area until a professional has inspected them.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate the affected area.
  • Turn off your home’s main water supply, and do not use tubs, sinks, or flush toilets until the backup has been cleared.
  • Inform your insurance company about the backup as soon as possible. They will be able to tell you what is covered under your policy and help you start the claims process.
  • If you have a sewage backup, you should call a professional plumber to clear it. They will have the experience and equipment to safely and effectively remove the sewage from your home.

Get In Touch With Our Team Today If You’re Trying To Deal With a Sewer Backup

If you’re trying to figure out how to deal with a sewer backup, it’s best to call a professional team immediately. You should contact our expert team to clear the backup and prevent further damage to your home. At Bienvenu Brothers, we have many years of experience clearing sewage backups. Contact us today at (504) 835-7783 to schedule a consultation.