The thought of a sewage backup is enough to make any homeowner cringe with dread. After all, a problem with your sewer line is not something you can fix simply with your household plunger. Unfortunately, these unhygienic backups are becoming a reality for more homeowners each year due to the increasing age of U.S. sewer lines, according to a study by the Civil Engineering Research Foundation.

If you are a homeowner, make sure you’re equipped with the following knowledge:

  • What is a Sewer Line Backup?
  • What Causes Sewer Line Backups?
  • What To Do If a Sewer Line Backup Occurs in Your Home
  • How to Avoid Sewer Line Backups

In need of an urgent sewer line repair in Los Angeles or San Fernando Valley? Contact Bryco Plumbing at 818-349-9000 or submit an online contact form!

What Is a Sewer Line Backup?

A sewer line backup is a more serious issue than a single, clogged drain. A sewer line backup involves a blockage in the main pipe that takes all of your household’s wastewater to the municipal sewer line or, in some cases, a septic tank.

Your household’s wastewater includes everything that goes down the drains of your sinks, shower, bathtub, and toilet. If there is a blockage in your sewer line, this wastewater has nowhere to go. At this point, running any water or flushing a toilet can cause the wastewater to travel backward through your plumbing, back into your home.

What Causes Sewer Line Backups?

Sewer line backups can have multiple causes, and unfortunately, not all of the causes are easy to foresee without a sewer camera inspection.

Tree Roots

Tree roots are notorious for damaging sewer lines. In some cases, tree roots start to infiltrate the pipe through small gaps, usually at the joints, and they continue to spread and expand inside the pipe until blocking it or busting it apart. Tree roots have also been known to wrap around sewer lines like a boa constrictor, slowly crushing the pipe over time.

Older Pipe Materials

Although contemporary sewer lines are made out of sturdy plastic, some older homes still have clay or cast iron piping as part of their drain system. As they age, the materials are prone to breaking, which can then lead to sewer line issues. Even plastic piping is susceptible to the effects of aging and can wear out over time.

Shifting Earth

Changes in the ground around your sewer line can have a tremendous effect on it. For example, when earth settles underneath the pipe, it can cause the pipe to warp or drop, which can eventually lead to a backup.

Bad Household Habits

Sewer line issues can be caused by people’s behavior when it comes to their homes’ drains. When items such as grease, cooking oils, soap scum, hair, wipes, paper towels, and feminine hygiene products are flushed or poured down the drain, they can accumulate in the sewer line overtime and increase a home’s risk of a backup issue.

What To Do If a Sewer Line Backup Occurs in Your Home

If you see wastewater backing up into your toilet, tub, or sinks, follow the steps below, and refrain from running or flushing any additional water. That additional water will not have anywhere to go and will only make the backup worse.

  • Go outside, and try to locate your home’s cleanout. It will most likely look like a 4-inch-wide to a 6-inch-wide piece of white pipe that’s sticking a few inches out of the ground. Keep in mind: not all homes have a cleanout, but if yours does, it will help you troubleshoot the sewer line issue.
  • Take the cap off of your cleanout in order to release pressure from your sewer line. In some cases, wastewater might have to come out this way–but better outside than in your home!
  • Look inside the cleanout to see if there is standing water. Standing water usually confirms that you are experiencing a sewer line backup.
  • Turn off the water to your home to ensure that no one accidentally uses any and worsens the backup issue.
  • Contact a plumber with experience in repairing sewer line issues.

How to Avoid Sewer Line Backups

Sewer line backups can best be avoided by using a combination of two things: practicing smart plumbing habits around the house and investing in regular sewer inspections. Make sure everyone in your household knows what can cause sewer line clogs — in other words, what’s not okay to flush or wash down the drain. When getting your sewer inspected, make sure that the inspection includes actual video camera footage of the inside of your sewer line so that you can see the condition of your pipes for yourself.

Whether it’s a repair, replacement, or comprehensive video inspection of your sewer line, Bryco Plumbing has the license, certification, and training to get the job done right the first time.