With any luck, you won’t have to deal with a sewer backup for a good, long time. However, it’s important for you to understand exactly what a sewer backup is and the causes of sewer backup.
On a basic level, “sewer backup” is pretty explanatory: this occurs when something is causing the sewer drain to back up into the drains of your home. Some of the ways you might recognize this include telltale gurgling sounds, or possibly the drains draining very slowly.
The big kicker is if this is occurring to multiple drains at once. It’s one thing if a single drain acts up: you can likely fix that with a plunger and some elbow grease. However, if it’s multiple drains, then they likely have a single cause, and that’s a sewer backup.
So what actually causes sewer backups? We thought you’d never ask! We put together this handy guide to the top five causes of sewer backup.
Oftentimes, we hear customers express that plumbing is difficult to understand. However, sewer backups are not too hard to wrap your head around: it’s basically one big drain, and like any other drain, it’s very susceptible to clogging.
Make no mistake: like a phone call in an old horror movie, the real danger is coming from inside your house! In all seriousness, the sewer line is likely to get clogged if you are being careless with what is going down your drains.
For instance, be careful about what you flush down the toilet. People flush things like napkins, Kleenex, and even diapers that were never, ever intended to go down a drain, all of which can create clogs. We’ve also got some bad news: “flushable wipes” are something of a myth, and they are still likely to cause clogged drains.
Similarly, you need to be careful with how you use your garbage disposal. Too much of any one thing at a time can risk a clog. And whether it’s your disposal or any other drain in your home, you need to avoid pouring grease and fat down your drains. These things end up hardening and creating clogs that are especially difficult to get rid of.
It really is that simple: clog enough drains and you risk clogging the sewer itself, causing backups! Don’t hesitate to call a professional to inspect and repair any clogs before they turn into a major sewer backup.
Okay, now that we’ve guilted you out, we’ll move on to one factor that’s definitely not your fault. Sometimes, the sewer lines backup because they are facing an entirely different obstruction: trees! This is something to which older homes are especially vulnerable, and it’s especially important to get a professional to get things back to normal.
This is another pretty simple equation: if your sewer line is above tree roots, then the roots may eventually grow through your lines. Even if it’s not your own roots, it may be your neighbor’s yard that is providing the offending roots.
Certain pipes are more vulnerable to tree roots than others. For instance, it’s easy for roots to break through clay pipes. These are typically found in older homes. If you have clay pipes in your own home, we recommend contacting a professional about replacing them with PVC and concrete pipes. While nothing is completely foolproof, this is more likely to hold off the roots and prevent nasty sewer backups.
So far, we’ve been focusing on the kinds of problems that are easier for you to detect, diagnose, and have fixed. That’s just who we are: problem-solvers. However, our next cause of sewer backups is something that is outside of your control.
Sometimes, the sewer backup occurs because the sewer line collapses. Once more, this is something that is more likely to happen with older homes, as the lines in the area can be composed of cast iron and clay. These will break down over time.
At this point, calling a professional is your only option. This ensures the line is repaired quickly, cleanly, and safely!
Sometimes, those sewer backups genuinely cannot be predicted or stopped. For this next one, you might even say it’s an act of God: many temporary backups are caused by heavy flooding!
Depending on your area, you may be more prone to experiencing these backups after periods of intense rain. It’s simple math on this one: when the sewer gets flooded with rainwater, the water tries to escape, and the only option can be your own home!
If this happens, it is vital to call a professional. We can help prevent further damage and get your home back to normal.
Most causes of sewer backups that we’ve discussed have been either accidents or acts out of our control. However, our last cause is the most frustrating: backups caused by acts of vandalism.
Nearly all of the conditions we have discussed can be caused by vandals. They might damage your pipes, flood your pipes, or simply throw trash and sticks in them until it builds a backup.
We can help fix any damage and even offer a professional opinion as to whether it was vandalism or not. In this way, we can offer peace of mind as well as a restored home!
Most of our advice has a similar ring to it: when in doubt, call a professional! However, you may be asking yourself: why bother calling a professional for the causes of sewer backup? Why not handle things myself?
The truth is that plumbing and sewage systems are very complex and delicate. Even if you had all of the exotic tools of the trade, it would be difficult to find and fix everything without risking making it worse.
At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, we’re here to make life easier for you. With just one call, you will get top-notch sewer backup service from a name you can trust!