Images of a sewer drain.

How to Prevent a Sewer Backup

Sewer backups can certainly wreak havoc on your home, not to mention they can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your property. What most homeowners don’t realize is that they are responsible for maintaining their property’s sewer lateral, which is the pipeline between your house and the city’s sewer main.

If you’re a homeowner and unsure about how to maintain your sewer line, here are some tips for preventing backups as well as what causes them.

What Causes Sewer Backups?

There are quite a few causes to sewer backups and it’s important to know what they are before your floors and walls become severely damaged by a backup. With the amount of rain we experience during this time of year, your home’s sewer system can become overwhelmed and before you know it, raw sewage is pooling around your home’s drains and in your basement.

Here's a quick overview on what causes sewer backups, which we go into further detail about below. 

  • Sewer lines that are 30 plus years old or badly damaged
  • Tree roots growing into and around your sewer lines
  • Clogged drains preventing the proper flow of waste water 
  • Combined pipelines becoming overwhelmed during storms

Old/damaged sewer lines

If your sewer line is more than 30 years old or has a broken, collapsed, or cracked line, this can cause a major problem. Specifically with older sewer lines, pipes are often made from cast iron and clay, which deteriorates over time.

Tree roots

Tree roots are the most common cause of a sewer backup. When tree roots start to grow, underground drains start to crack because of the roots wrapping around the sewer line. If you hear gurgling noises coming from your toilets, this is a huge warning sign that tree roots are interfering with your sewer system.

Clogged drains

Believe it or not, your sewer line can become clogged just as easily as your drain pipes. To avoid this, do not flush anything down your toilet that isn’t toilet paper and keep the oils and grease away from your garbage disposal. And remember... “flushable” wipes are not flushable!

Combined pipelines

In systems where storm water and raw sewage combine into the same pipeline, the system is exposed to more than it has the capacity to handle, which causes a backup.

How to Prevent Sewer Backups

Now that we know the basics of what causes sewer backups, let's review some ways homeowners can protect their property from them.

Before exploring the details below, here's a quick rundown on how to prevent sewer backups:

  • Steer clear of putting grease down your garbage disposal
  • Consider using plastic piping to help prevent cracks
  • Make sure the only paper you're flushing is toilet paper
  • Ask your plumber to install a backflow prevention device

Don’t Put Grease Down Your Garbage Disposal

Oil, grease, and fats from cooked meats should never be put down your garbage disposal. As the oil or grease cools off, it solidifies and will cause a clog in the drain or main sewer.

Plastic Piping

As we mentioned before, tree roots can crack the piping in your sewer line as they start to grow. Fortunately, plastic piping is much more secure because tree roots can’t break through it, so you should consider plastic piping if tree roots are an issue for you with your current sewer line.

Dispose Paper Products Correctly

Paper products like paper towels, cotton balls, and feminine products should never be flushed down the toilet because they take a very long time to deteriorate and will clog your pipes. Something we can’t stress enough is that toilet paper should be the only item you are flushing down your toilet. And again, “flushable” wipes are not actually flushable!

Backwater Prevention Valve

A backwater prevention valve can be a final line of defense to prevent sewer backup. The valve is a fixture installed into your sewer line which allows sewage to go out but prevents it from coming in.

Salem Sewer Line Services

We understand that sewer lines are out of sight and out of mind, but when something goes wrong, our trusted experts at DoneRite Plumbing & Drain, LLC are going to get the job done right and right away. Our experienced plumbers can detect sewer problems before they get out of control, so contact us today before any further damage happens to your property.