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Tips to Prevent and Handle Sewer Backup

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If you have ever experienced a sewage backup in your home or at a friends place, then you know how awful it gets. A sewage backup can destroy property, cause illness, and damage home appliances and, therefore, its advisable to prevent it.

Apart from the damage a sewer backup causes, the cost of covering all the repairs is way more expensive than what it costs to put preventative measures into place.

Most people assume that sewers are safe and can rarely backup into their homes but what they don’t put into consideration is that some causes of sewer backups are unavoidable. For example, floods can occur and block up the municipal sewer system causing a flow back up into your sewer line.

In this article, we will take you through the preventative measures you can put in place avoid sewer backup and the causes of sewer backup.

Keep reading the article because it can save you thousands of dollars in property damage and repairs.

Does my insurance cover sewer backup damages?
In Toronto, sewer backup claim has radically increased. A few decades ago, the home insurance policy covered sewer backup at no additional costs because there were very few claims, if any, back then.

When the claims started increasing, insurance companies began charging a small fee to cover sewer backup, and within the last few years, sewer backup insurance coverage has become very costly.
It’s therefore advisable to find out if your insurance company covers you. If you’re not covered, consider getting a sewer backup insurance coverage because it comes in handy.

Even if some insurance companies offer to cover you, most do so at a reduced coverage, and they insist that you install preventative measures against sewer backup.

Therefore, it’s better to implement the preventative measures that we will take you through because there is no guarantee that your insurance is willing to cover all the costs caused by a sewer backup.

Causes of sewer backup

A sewer backup can occur due to numerous reasons. Some risk factors that may lead to a sewer backup include old plumbing in your building, floods and a shift in underneath pipes for example during massive constructions.

The most common causes of sewer backup include:

Tree Roots

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This is one of the major causes of a sewer backup. If you have trees growing directly on your sewer line or even in your neighbours’ yards, there are chances that their massive root systems will cause damage to your sewer line as they seek water and nutrients.
Some roots may wrap around the sewer line and crush it or grow into the pipe causing cracks and blockage.
The solution to this type of damage is to call a professional who will remove the roots growing into your sewer line and then repair or replace it.

Collapsed or Broken Sewer Line

Img 2698This can occur if your sewer line is old. Before the introduction of plastic sewer lines, sewer lines were built using cast iron and clay piping that breaks down with time leading to broken or collapsed sewer line which leads to sewer backup.
It can also be caused by shifting earth due to earthquakes and other natural phenomena such as the formation of sinkholes.
A sewer backup caused by collapsed pipes can be fixed by replacing the old sewer line.

Heavy rainfall

During rainfall, vast amounts of water can cause the municipal sewer system to flood leading to sewer backup.

Heavy rainfall can also cause sewer backup if your downspouts or sump pump is connected to your sewer line. The sewer line is only meant to handle small amounts of wastewater from your house.
To avoid backup from heavy rainfall, do not connect the stormwater drainage system to your sanitary sewer lines.

Clogs in Your Sewer Line

Img 2697Sewer pipes are easily clogged/ blocked if the wrong materials get flushed down the sewer line. When the sewer lines get blocked, wastewater cannot flow into the municipal sewer system which gradually leads to a backup.

If it’s just one toilet or tub which has a sewer backup, then it’s the only drain with a clog. You should not try to unclog it yourself using cheap chemicals or other means. Always call on the professionals to get your sewer unblocked the right way.

A clog can be easily avoided by using toilets and sinks as intended and always keeping them clean.

Here’s a list of items that you should never flush down the drain to prevent clogging:

  • Long hair- it can get stuck and cause clogs in your drainage system.
  • Grease- grease does not break down. It solidifies causing sewer line blockage.
  • Paper towels- even if the company assures you that they are safe to flush, do not do it as they are not easily breakdown which can easily cause clogs.
  • Oils and fats- oil and fats easily solidify in your sewer line, and they accumulate with time leading to blockage.
  • Cotton balls- they tend to clump up together with other materials such as food residues causing blockage in your sewer line.

The list of materials that should never be flushed down the toilet is quite long. In short, use your drainage system for only the intended purpose.

Warning signs of a sewer backup

If you notice any of the following, call a plumbing professional immediately before your property gets damaged:
• Minor backups in one or several of your drains.
• Backup in your sewer cleanout, i.e. the pipe that extends from your sewer line to provide easy access to your sewer line
• If using one drain, for example the toilet, leads to backup in a nearby drain like the sink there’s a chance that your sewer line is blocked or collapsed.

Preventative Measures to Avoid Sewer Backup

  1. Clean your drains regular
    There are a few tricks that you can use to clean out your drains without using cleaning chemicals that can destroy your pipes. For example, you can make a mixture of vinegar warm water and baking powder to help clean your system.
  2. Install drain plugs
    Drain plugs are installed below floor grates. Drain plugs are one way and thus prevent wastewater from backing up in case the sewer lines are blocked.
    Once the sewer line is fixed, the plugs open allowing water to flow into the sewer line. Always keep your drain plug clean to ensure it functions correctly.
  3. Overhead sewer
    Although a bit costly, an overhead sewer is the best way to prevent flooding. Any overflow water from your sewer system is collected into a sump which pumps it into the overhead pipe. The overhead sewer then drains it into the main sewer system.
  4. Standpipe
    A standpipe is a watertight pipe installed in the floor drain. It traps any water that backups from the sewer system and can be removed and drained when the sewer system is repaired.
  5. Backwater valve
    A backup valve also is known as a backflow prevention valve is installed at the point where your sewer line connects to the municipal sewer line. This ensures that if the municipal sewer system has any problems, there’s no backflow into your sewer line.
  6. Carry out simple safety practices

As mentioned earlier, simple things such as grease and oils can block up your system. To avoid this, one should carry out simple safety measures such as dumping all your trash in the right place and using your drains only for the required purposes.

Conclusion

Sewer backup can be devastating if not prevented. It’s costly to repair damages caused by a sewer backup and can be dangerous to your health because the sewer contains toxins and disease-causing microbes. One should, therefore, apply safety measures to prevent a disastrous sewer backup.

At Res Plumbing, we offer professional plumbing services at affordable rates. Give us a call to inspect your sewer line and install sewer backup preventative measures.

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