What happens when your sewer backs up?
If you’ve ever experienced a sewer backup, you know what a huge nuisance it can be. Sewer backups are not only smelly and disgusting, but they can also be dangerous. This guide will discuss what happens when your sewer backs up and the steps you need to take to clean it up. We’ll also provide some tips on how to prevent a sewer backup from happening in the first place.
What is a Sewer Backup?
A sewer backup is a situation in which wastewater from your home’s plumbing system flows back into your home. All the dirty water from your toilet, sink, and other appliances like dishwashers and washing machines flows through a network of sewer pipes to the city’s main sewer line.
If there is a blockage in that line of yours, it can cause all sorts of problems, including:
Municipal sewer lines are also susceptible to blockages and overflows, especially when heavy rainfall or flooding occurs.
What are Signs of Sewage Backup?
There are a few telltale signs to look for if you believe sewage may have backed up into your home. First, there is the unmistakable smell of raw sewage in or under your house – don’t ignore this.
You’ll also begin noticing that drains throughout your house aren’t working as well as they used to; water may back up into your sink, shower, or bathtub.
If the backup is bad enough, you might even see wastewater seeping out from cracks in your foundation or through floorboards.
What Causes a Sewer Backup?
The sewage backups can become overwhelmed with water during a heavy storm. As a result, many homes will experience flooding in their basement or crawlspace due to an overflow from both sides of the pipes where they connect together at right angles (known as cross-fitting). An excellent way to prevent this is by having your septic tank pumped every two years to remove any excess water.
Clogs can be caused by a build-up of grease, mineral deposits, or tree roots. They are also known as stoppages. They will typically cause slow draining water followed by overflows in your bathroom sink/shower drains, toilet flush tank (if it has no overflow pipe), and finally, the main sewer line leads out to the city’s main sewer pipe.
If your home is situated on shifting or eroding soil, the sewer line can become compromised over time. This will eventually cause backups in your drains, and even cracks in your foundation as the soil around the house moves away.
Now that we know some of the things that can cause a sewer backup, let’s take a look at some of the things you CAN control:
Tree roots can easily clog up your sewer line. Once they start growing inside the pipe, they will expand over time and cause a blockage in it. It’s important to keep trees away from where you’re putting new pipes, as this could prevent future backups by preventing root growth into these areas.
Some people flush things down their toilet that they shouldn’t, and this can easily cause a sewer backup. Things like baby wipes, dental floss, cotton balls, and feminine hygiene products should NEVER be flushed down the toilet as they will quickly create a clog.
If you’re throwing grease or oil down your sink drain, it’s going to congeal on top of the pipe and cause a blockage. Instead, let it cool off before pouring it into an old coffee can or empty beer bottle so that you can dispose of these items in your garbage instead.
Sewer lines are not meant to last forever, and over time they can become corroded, blocked, or collapsed. If your home is more than 25 years old, it’s a good idea to have the sewer line inspected every few years to ensure that there are no blockages causing backups in your home.
What are the Dangers of Sewer Backup?
Sewer system backups can cause a lot of damage to your home and make it uninhabitable until repaired. Sewage backup cleanup costs can be pretty expensive but it is recommended you hire a professional. This includes water seeping out of cracks in the floors or foundation as well as through walls, ceilings, and other areas where there may be weak spots due to rotting wood or other structural issues such as mold growth on drywall from moisture exposure.
Here are some other dangers to be aware of:
Quick Fixes for Sewer Backups
There are a few ways to fix minor backups without calling in professionals. These include:
Use a Plunger
The easiest way to try and dislodge a clog is with a plunger. First, make sure the plunger fits tightly over the drain opening and plunge up and down quickly for about 30 seconds. If this doesn’t work, you can try using hot water or vinegar before calling in a professional.
Snake the Drain
If plunging doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake to try and clear the clog. You insert a metal cable into the drain and twist until the clog is dislodged. Be careful not to damage your pipes with this method.
Call a Professional
If neither of these methods works, it’s time to call in a professional. They will have the tools and experience to clear the clog quickly and efficiently so that you can get your home back to normal.
How Can I Prevent a Sewer Backup?
There are a few things you can do to help prevent a sewer backup in your home:
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you unclog a sewer main?
If you have a clogged sewer main, there are two ways to clear it – using a cable auger or jetting. A cable auger has an electric motor that spins the snake down into your pipes until it reaches the clog, then pushes through and dislodges whatever is causing the blockage. Jetting involves pumping high-pressure water into the pipes to clear the clog.
How do you know if your sewer is backed up?
If your drains are slow to empty or you’re seeing standing water in your yard, there’s a good chance that your sewer is backed up. You can also smell raw sewage in some cases.
What should you do if your sewer backs up?
If your sewer backs up, the first thing you should do is call a professional to clear the clog. In the meantime, try using a plunger or snake to dislodge the clog. Keep children and pets away from any raw sewage, and don’t try to clean it up yourself – you could risk serious infections.
Can poop come back up the toilet?
Yes, it’s possible for poop to come back up the toilet. This is usually caused by a blockage in your sewer line or a clogged drain somewhere else in your home. Do not flush if you’re unsure of whether there will be enough water to push everything down.
How do I know what's causing my sewer backup?
There are a few ways to tell what’s causing your sewer backup. The most obvious sign is if sewage is coming up through your drains and toilets. If you see any water or wastewater on the ground outside, that’s also a sign of a sewer backup. Finally, if you smell an unpleasant odor near your home’s drains, that could be a sign of a backup.