What’s That Smell? (Hint: It’s Probably a Sewage Backup)

A sewage backup is never a pleasant experience. Beyond the foul odors it brings, it can wreak serious damage throughout your home and lead to health hazards. Sewage water contains dangerous contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, pesticides and other microorganisms. Exposing yourself or family members to these harmful contaminants and chemicals can put you in serious danger.

All homeowners should take proper steps to avoid sewage and water backups. But when most of your sewer pipes are hidden behind walls and underground, keeping an eye on things can be hard. More often than not, a sewage backup starts small and, over time, grows into a bigger problem. To avoid these issues, it’s important to first understand the causes and what to look out for.

What Causes a Sewage Backup?

The risk of a sewer backup increases if your home has a basement or if the ground floor is less than a foot above street level. Here are other risk factors and causes:

  • Tree Roots – Roots from trees and other large plants seeking moisture can find their way into sewer line cracks. As the roots continue to grow, they can cause blockages or travel a long way into the pipes. Tree roots are the primary cause of clogged sewer lines, especially in older homes. Slow flowing drains and gurgling noises from your toilets are the first signs that your sewer system has been invaded by tree roots.
  • Sanitary Main – Blockages can occur in the city’s sanitary main. Sewage from the main can back up into nearby homes through floor drains. It is also more likely to occur during or after a big storm that overwhelms the main. This type of blockage usually doesn’t happen instantly, giving you time to call your local plumbing professionals at Bradley Mechanical to look into it ahead of time.
  • Combined Pipelines – Some systems combine stormwater and sewage into the same pipeline. Similar to overwhelmed sanitary mains, heavy rains can cause the system to be exposed to more water volume than it can handle, resulting in a sewage backup.

How to Avoid and Fix Sewage Backups

Many things can cause a sewer line to back up. Although some you can’t control – like the weather and state of your city’s sanitary main – there are plenty of ways to reduce the risks of a sewage backup. Here at Bradley Mechanical, our team of certified plumbers has 50+ years of combined experience helping our customers avoid or react to sewage backups.

There are a few ways we encourage our customers to keep their pipelines in great shape:

  • Dispose of paper products properly. Paper towels, disposable diapers and feminine products do not deteriorate quickly as toilet paper does. If flushed down a drain, they can cause many problems to your lateral pipe, which transports water from your home to the city sanitary main. Ensure all house members and guests understand how to properly dispose of these items.
  • Don't dump grease down the drain. Grease poured down the drain can quickly cool off and solidify in the drain, the lateral pipe or the main sewer creating a clog. Pour grease into a heat-resistant container and dispose of it properly.
  • Install a backwater prevention valve. A backwater valve (sometimes referred to as a backflow or sewer backup valve) is a fixture installed into a sewer line in your basement that prevents sewer backflows. It will allow sewage to flow out but not back in. They can be installed during new construction or retrofitted into an existing home.
  • Seal your foundation. By sealing cracks in your foundation, you effectively waterproof your basement. If your foundation is compromised, it could affect nearby sewer lines and allow excess moisture to accumulate.
  • Replace your sewer line with plastic pipes. Plastic piping can help prevent infiltration from tree and bush roots. While replacing your entire pipe system is a massive undertaking, it may be more feasible than you think. Give us a call to receive a free estimate and learn the benefits of plastic piping.

We’ve been in the business for over 50 years, and if there’s one thing we do best, it’s helping our customers feel comfortable and safe in their homes. We don’t just fix sewage backups; we provide plumbing expertise and peace of mind. No matter what issue you may be experiencing, we’ll get you out of the fix you’re in.

Need to fix a sewage backup fast? There’s no time to waste – give Bradley Mechanical’s phone line a call, and one of our expert plumbers will provide prompt and effective service.

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