Sewage Backup and How to Prevent It

It’s a breeze when everything in your house works like it should and it can be a disaster when something breaks! There’s not much worse than a backed-up sewage pipe because that means your house could be unsanitary, smelly and uninhabitable. 

The worst backups end up damaging floors, carpets, electrical systems, furnishings, walls and anything else near the floor when the water enters. If you know what to do and what not to do, you can prevent many of these backups and all the ensuing damage which can, of course, save you thousands!

Let’s take a look at this subject from the beginning. 

What Is a Drainpipe?

It’s a pipe that carries water and waste away from your home. 

There are drainpipes that carry water away from your bathrooms, kitchens, laundry room, shop and anywhere else water is used. The water and waste in all these drainpipes flow into the single main pipe leading away from your home. This main pipe is also called a sewer line

The whole drainage system for your home works entirely by gravity. That means that all the pipes draining water from your home and into a septic or city sewage system must be built on a slope. As the pipes move away from your home, they must run deeper and deeper underground until they join the city’s sewer lines or the inlet for a septic system.

These pipes may be made from:

  • Cast iron
  • Galvanized steel—a steel pipe with a protective coating to prevent rust
  • PVC, a very durable plastic
  • ABS, a form of tough plastic that’s not as durable or rigid as PVC
  • Orangeburg—a pipe made of various fibers pressed together. 
  • Copper
  • Clay, used for thousands of years

Where Can Backups Occur?

Backups can happen anywhere in any of these drains, including the main sewer line leading to the city services or septic tank. 

What Are the Signs of a Sewage Backup?

You’ll see signs that water is not draining properly and completely. Some are subtle and some can’t be missed!

  • Toilet water bubbling
  • Drains make a gurgling sound
  • Slow draining in sinks or bathtubs
  • Lack of water pressure
  • Foul odors coming from the drains
  • Water coming up into the bathtub when the toilet is flushed
  • Water seeping up through the toilet seal when the washer or dishwasher empties
  • A lush growth of grass outside around a leaking drainpipe

Preventing Sewage Backups

One of the main ways to prevent sewage backups is to never flush or wash away anything other than what is intended to go down a drainpipe—which is, basically, plain water, soapy water, toilet water, human waste and toilet paper. 

So what kind of things do people flush down a toilet or send down a sink that they shouldn’t?

  1. Feminine hygiene products
  2. “Flushable” wipes for adults or babies—they really aren’t!
  3. Facial tissues
  4. Paper towels
  5. Dental floss
  6. Unwanted food or soup
  7. Coffee grounds
  8. Oil or grease
  9. Kitty litter
  10. Cotton balls
  11. The little stickers on produce
  12. Multiple-ply toilet paper (one-ply is better)

All of these items and substances accelerate the formation of backups in your drainpipe. It’s a little harder to prevent hair from going down the drain of a shower but a filter placed over your shower drain can help. 

Just think of it this way: Every time you don’t flush or rinse away these items, you are protecting your drainpipes and likely saving yourself misery and money!

Other Causes of Backups

Some causes of backups are not your fault. For example, as your drainpipes exit your property, they are supposed to slope downhill, as mentioned. If the ground settles in one area, your pipe could develop a “belly” which causes the fluids to pool right at that point. 

Another common cause of a backup is roots growing in your drainpipes. Roots will grow faster in winter than in summer. (This growth can be slowed down with a product called RootX.)

In older homes, pipes age and develop cracks and breaks. At this point, they simply need to be replaced. 

Improper pipe installations also cause drain backups. Regrettably, not every plumber is properly trained and not every bit of plumbing is installed correctly. Or maybe the person who owned your home before you was a do-it-yourselfer who cut corners!

What Can You Do to Prevent Expensive Backups?

Items one through twelve above should be known by everyone in your household to prevent backups. Educate your family on what should go into garbage cans and why. 

For the other causes of drainpipe backups, you need the help of a competent, well-trained plumber. And that’s Rocketman Plumbing! 

It can save you time, money and headaches to call us out to inspect your system before there’s a backup so we can identify trouble spots. That includes roots in your sewer line or incorrect pipe installations. 

And then, if you notice any signs of a drainpipe backup, call us immediately. There really is no time to waste. Otherwise, you may wind up with unsanitary water flooding across your floor. We’ll come out day or night, even holidays if needed. Immediate repair can help you prevent extensive damage to your home, furnishings or even your health. 

For fast, reliable sewer line services across Albuquerque, call Rocketman Plumbing at 505-243-1227, day or night.