One of the trickiest things a homeowner has to deal with is plumbing problems. They’re often out of sight and out of mind until something goes wrong. The problems that result can quickly get out of hand, becoming costly messes that may leave you with heaps of damage. One such problem is a sewage backup.
Understanding the signs and potential causes of a sewer backup can save you from a massive headache and potentially devastating physical and financial consequences down the road. Learn the tricks to troubleshooting your home’s main sewer line so you are not surprised in the event of an emergency.
What is Sewer Backup?
Sewage backup occurs when wastewater is blocked from draining properly due to an obstruction or damage to the sewer lines. Sewer backup will commonly occur in the main sewer line that connects your home to the municipal sanitary sewers. However, sewer backups may also occur in smaller sewer lines as well.
When sewer backups occur you will have to deal with wastewater traveling back up through the sewer lines and overflowing through your sinks, bathtubs, and toilets. This nasty water may contain anything from food waste to human waste, meaning you’ll have a whole lot more to worry about than just the germs of the sewer line.
What Can Cause a Sewer Backup?
Sewer backups are caused by two main factors: clogs within the sewer lines and damage to the sewer pipes. Clogs are the most common cause of sewer backup and can result from the use of too much toilet paper, a buildup of soap scum, or grease. If you pour grease down the drain line it will solidify and create an almost impenetrable barrier for other items you put down the drain. These items will continue to build upon the clog, increasing your likelihood of a sewage backup.
Tree roots have a habit of damaging the sewer lines that lay just below the surface of the ground. They will penetrate the plastic pipe and create a clog that cannot be remedied. Tree roots may cross over the property owner’s line, so your home isn’t guaranteed to be safe from these natural nuisances.
Aging sewage systems made of cast iron or clay are prone to breaking or collapsing after years of use. Even small sewer line cracks can often lead to massive problems down the road, so we recommend replacing these old pipes as soon as they get close to the end of their lifespan.
Finally, a poorly maintained backwater valve is a surefire way to cause a sewage backup for yourself. A backwater valve is designed to allow water or sewage to only flow in one direction. If you do not properly maintain this valve, it will not be able to do its job in protecting your home from backups.
How to Prevent Sewer Line Backup
You need to take preventative measures in order to prevent sewer backflows, and by extension prevent basement flooding.
First, prevent tree roots from coming near your sewer lines by having the roots cut away from the line and rerouted elsewhere. Rerouting the tree roots will deter them from damaging the lines.
Second, replace old sewer lines with modern plastic piping to lower the risk of cracks appearing in your sewer line.
Third, install a backwater prevention valve and be sure to take care of it properly.
To prevent clogs in your sinks and toilets, be sure to dispose of products properly. Cleaning wipes, napkins, and hygiene products should be thrown into the garbage and not flushed down the drain.
To properly dispose of cooking oil you must put grease into a heat-resistant container. Once it solidifies, simply throw it into your kitchen trash.
Signs of a Sewer Line Backup
Thankfully, a sewage backup is not an invisible problem as it comes with multiple tell-tale signs.
First, you will notice the distinct smell of raw sewage coming from the drainage pipes of your homes. This foul smell is a sign that wastewater is not properly draining away from your home.
If your sinks, toilets, or bathtubs are bubbling it may be the sign of a clog in the drain. Frequent air bubbles can be a red flag of a sewage backup, so be sure to keep your eye out for them. Sometimes these air bubbles are not as apparent, but they will be accompanied by a gurgling noise.
If you notice slow drains in multiple fixtures around your home you may have a sewer backup on your hands. This problem will likely affect lower drains first, meaning you need to watch your basement and first floor drains closely.
An obvious sign that your home’s drain pipes may be clogged is a yard flooded with dirty water. You may be able to notice this problem before standing water appears due to a distinct smell. If your yard floods, be sure to contact a qualified plumber immediately.
How to Fix a Sewage Backup
If your sewage backup is not substantial you may be able to quickly fix it through the use of a plunger, liquid drain cleaner, or auger. These items will be able to clear most mild clogs.
If your sewer system backs up into your home due to age, you will need to call a plumber to repair the damage and install a new plastic pipe. This will help to prevent any future backups you may experience.
How to Clean After Sewage Backups
After a sewer backup, you’ll want to disinfect the affected property. Wash contaminated objects in warm, soapy water and disinfect them by using a bleach/water solution. Avoid skin contact by wearing rubber gloves, and dry the surface area with paper towels. Wash down the walls, floors, and areas affected by the backup with hot water. Be sure to steam clean any plumbing fixtures that were affected by the flooding.
How to Get Rid of the Smell
The smell that sewage water creates is both unpleasant and harmful in the long run, so you’ll want to take care of it immediately after your sewer backup problem is fixed.
First, open the windows of your home to help air out the affected area. Then, spray diluted white vinegar on substances to help neutralize the smell. Baking soda will also help neutralize smells and should be left on affected areas overnight.
If the smell persists after deep cleaning, vinegar, and baking soda you can also use charcoal or scented odor eliminators to help give your home a refreshing scent.
Who Should You Call to Fix Sewer Backups?
If your sewage backup cannot be handled by traditional methods or evolves into an emergency, contact us today. The experts at Knight Plumbing know how to accurately diagnose and fix sewer line backups, and will make to take care of any flooding that may occur. Contact Knight Plumbing to prevent future disasters any time, day or night!