2 Common Reasons Why Sewers Back Up

Posted on: 22 March 2016


From a foul smell coming out of your basement to slow draining tubs and showers, there are many signs that your sewer system is backed up. In addition to being very inconvenient, a sewer back-up is potentially dangerous because it can flood your basement with bacteria-ridden sewage. Here are two common reasons why sewers back up and what you can do to fix the problem and prevent a back-up in the future:

A Nasty Clog

A massive clog is one of the most common reasons why your sewer isn't functioning properly. The clog can occur in either your private line, which extends from your house to the street, or the main line. If the clog is in the main line, in most instances it is your city or county's responsibility to fix the issue. However, if the clog happens in your private line, you will more than likely be responsible for fixing the issue.

In many cases, the clog occurs when several foreign objects are flushed down your toilet or placed in your drains. The objects could be anything from tampons, cat litter or a dirty diaper. Pouring grease down your drain is another common cause of a sewer clog and back-up. Running hot water down the drain will keep the grease from solidifying for a few feet. Unfortunately, once the sewer reaches the cooler water that is found further along your system, it will solidify, which can lead to a nasty clog.

If you have a clog, calling a professional to have your drain line cleaned is the best option. Unfortunately, when a clog is this severe, using store bought products won't be effective.

To prevent another clog in the future, make sure that you don't pour grease down the drain or flush any objects that belong in the trash. Additionally, avoid placing large amounts of food down your garbage disposal. Delish also encourages homeowners to avoid placing bones down the garbage disposal, as well.

Tree Roots

Out of control tree roots is another common cause of a sewage back-up. When tree roots grow unchecked, they can either break through the sewer line itself, crawl through the joists or an excessive amount of roots can actually cause your sewer line to collapse.

Unfortunately, even if you keep the trees growing around your sewer line in check, the roots from a neighbor's tree might infiltrate your line, causing an unwanted back-up.

There are several options available if you have a tree root issue, and the route you choose depends upon your situation. If the tree root issue is severe enough to cause the sewer line to collapse, you may consider cutting down the offending tree. If the tree is on a neighbor's property, offer to pay to have the tree removed or the roots trimmed.

A professional can also perform a de-rooting. This procedure involves placing a camera through your sewer line, and once the roots are located, a specialized tool is used to clear away the roots. Unfortunately, this is sometimes a temporary fix because if there is damage to the sewer line, the roots will simply return.

If tree roots in your sewer system becomes a constant problem, you may also consider getting rid of the tree that is causing the issue.

From a nasty clog to out-of-control tree roots, there are several reasons why your basement is flooded after a sewer back-up. No matter what the issue, it is vital to call a professional immediately to locate the reason for the back-up and clear away the sewage, immediately. Never attempt to clean up the sewage yourself, and keep your children and pets away from the basement until the mess is eliminated by a sewer and drain cleaning professional.