How to Prevent Sewer Backups

Posted On: August 3, 2021

A sewer backup occurs when a waste line is blocked, causing wastewater to back up into the home. According to the Association of California Water Agencies, 500,000 sewer backups happen every year in the U.S. The estimated out-of-pocket costs for sewer backup damage in the home are between $2,000 and $10,000. Actual costs can be much higher when factoring in personal property and dwelling damage.

To avoid this costly and damaging headache, we want to shed some light on what a sewer backup is and easy ways to prevent them in your home or rental property.

What is a Sewer Backup?

A sewage or sewer backup happens when subsurface water comes up through the sewer or drainage system into your home, such as your toilet, sinks, or shower. A sewer backup may be caused by pipe deterioration, tree roots intruding into the line, or improper disposal of sanitary products, toilet paper, rags, fat, grease, or oil.

Improperly diverting downspouts, stormwater, or groundwater into the sewer system can also cause sewer backup into the home due to an overabundance of water overwhelming the drainage system. The private line on the property is often the cause, but sometimes, the sanitary sewer system can overflow and backfill into the public line and private homes.

How to Prevent a Sewer Backup

There are several things homeowners, renters, and property owners can do to prevent a sewer backup:

  • Flush only toilet paper
  • Keep sewer lines clear of tree roots
  • Do not plant trees or bushes near sewer lines or laterals
  • Hire a professional to install an exterior cleanout
  • Avoid putting fat, grease, and oil down the drain
  • Line or replace old pipes
  • Avoid connecting downspouts, French drains, sump pumps, or flood control systems to the sanitary sewer line
  • Hire a professional to inspect your plumbing and sewer lines
  • Elevate the house drain
  • Properly dispose of household waste
  • Install a backup water valve
  • Inspect and trim tree roots growing near the sewer line
  • Add more water to ensure waste moves into your septic tank or city sewer line

Main Causes of Sewer Backups

The main causes of sewer backups in the home are usually homeowner or tenant errors. Most often, a backup in the sewer line happens from:

  • Flushing sanitary products, flushable wipes, diapers, and paper towels down the toilet
  • Clogging pipes with fat, oil, grease, coffee grounds, eggshells, and fibrous vegetables
  • Planting bushes and trees close to sewer lines can cause roots to infiltrate the lines
  • Excess rainwater being diverted into sewer systems
  • Aging and deteriorating pipes causing a break or fracture in the sewer line

The Dangers of Sewer Backup

Sewer backups can cause damage to your home and belongings, depending on the extent of the backup. Not only is the cleanup intense and smelly, but it can also be costly to replace expensive bathroom and kitchen cabinets and fixtures.

If the water is not cleaned up quickly and thoroughly, mold could develop in your home. Wastewater can also contain bacteria, parasites, viruses, and other toxins that can make you and your family very sick.

What to Do if You Experience a Sewer Backup

A sewer backup can cause damage to your home and belongings and lead to mold and disease if not cleaned up promptly. To prevent further damage and limit disease exposure, call a certified Short Pump Heating & Air plumber. A professional (and in some cases you) can:

  • Shut off power to the affected areas of your home
  • Use a wet vac to remove liquids and solids
  • Disinfect solid floors and walls
  • Remove and discard absorbent materials like carpets and wallboard
  • Flush and disinfect pipes and plumbing fixtures
  • Clean ductwork if needed

Sewer backups are most often caused by clogged pipes from household materials, tree roots, or pipe failures. Short Pump Heating & Air offers plumbing services to help inspect, diagnose, and resolve any sewer clogging issues you might be experiencing.

To speak to one of our expert plumbers or set up a service visit, call 804-364-9040 today!

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