Sewer Backup 101

Posted on: 24 January 2019


Of all the mechanical breakdowns and disastrous mishaps that can happen in the home, none is more dreaded perhaps than the sewer backing up. Fortunately, there are often signs of impending trouble leading up to this terrible calamity, and if the problem is caught in time, a catastrophe can be avoided. Here is what you need to know.

Your House Starts Making Odd Noises

Any time you hear weird gurgling noises coming from your drains, it's a good indication you have a problem somewhere in your pipes. Unfortunately, the drain you hear a noise in may not necessarily indicate where the problem is. For example, when you run your washing machine and it releases the wastewater into the basement drain, you may hear the bathtub gurgling and water may even back up into the tub. The toilets may also start bubbling.

You See Signs Of Moisture Around Your Drains

If your basement has a washbasin, shower stall, or an old "Pittsburgh potty," whenever there is a sewer issue somewhere in the system, these fixtures will commonly show signs of a recent backup.

How Do You Know Where The Issue Is?  

A clog or break can happen in the main sewer line or it can happen in one of the branches. While it may be difficult for the homeowner to locate where the precise clog or break is, you can usually determine if it is in the main or one of the tributaries. If water is backing up into your bathroom sink but nowhere else, the problem is likely contained to a secondary line. If the issue is the main sewer line, however, no matter which drain is used, it will cause the toilets to percolate, and water will enter the bathtub and basement drains, toilets, and showers.

What Is The Cause Of A Sewer Clog Or Break?

Newer homes that have an issue with their toilets percolating or water backing up into the tub or basement drains usually have a clog that is caused by paper products. Some feminine hygiene products, such as tampons, say they are flushable, but they really should not be flushed down the toilet as it is just asking for trouble. Sanitary napkins, paper toweling, and baby wipes should also never be flushed. Even the thicker toilet paper can cause a problem over time. In older homes in well-established neighborhoods, a sewer clog or break is usually caused by tree roots that have become entangled or have broken the line completely.

If you have any of these issues and suspect there is a problem with the sewer line, contact a sewer cleaning contractor right away. They can send a camera down to figure out where the problem is and fix it before you end up with more than just water backing up.