Sewage Backup in Basement: What To Do, Common Causes & How to Prevent It?

tree root cloggin sewer line

Reader Advisory: Today we will be discussing a smelly, disgusting and costly subject, but, alas, it’s a grim matter no home owner can afford to ignore, or just plug their nose to.

Sewer lines are the all-important channel that removes wastewater from your home. When sewer lines become blocked, the obstruction prevents wastewater from flowing through drainage pipes. The foul-odor result: Sewage blockage.

Even a skunk wouldn’t wash their dishes in the thick, black water that forms as sewage. Trust us, folks, your newborn baby’s diaper isn’t this disgusting. Sewage is a potential health hazard, for it contains contaminants and viruses that can present a risk of severe illness if exposed to people or animals.

If you discover a sewage backup in your basement, you have to eliminate it, STAT. This is a problem that no home owner can afford to sit on. Knowing what causes sewer backups is the wallet-saving key to preventing this hazardous situation from stinking up your basement and home and threatening your family’s health. Here’s our Smart Sewage Backup Prevention & Escape Plans.

What Causes Sewage Backups in Basements?

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, basements are most likely to take on water than any other part of your home because they’re below grade, i.e, located below the ground’s surface,” home improvement, maintenance and restoration guru Bob Vila notes.

But what causes basement sewage backups?

Clogs: Sewage backup is a chain reaction event. The root cause of sewage backup is cogged pipes. When your home’s drain pipes or main sewer line becomes clogged, sewage can back up into your home. If one toilet in your home creates a sewage backup, the drain attached to that toilet will likely be clogged. If all toilets or bathtubs in your home create backflows, you may have a clog in the main sewer line or a sump pump failure.

Clogs can be comprised of hair, grease or other solid materials that unfortunately route into your drains.

Damaged Sewer Lines: Back in the day in America, pipes were manufactured with cast iron and clay piping. These pipes didn’t have long service lives. Aging sewer systems often break down and crack, creating sewage backups and flooded basements. Today’s smarter sewage lines are mainly made of plastic.

Tree Roots: Sure, your prized 60-foot oak tree is beautiful, but beware of its long roots. Trees, especially those planted close to homes, can grow long roots that intertwine with your sewer lines. Roots can expand into a pipe and create holes or crush the sewer line by growing around it. Even if roots in your yard are not the issue, roots from nearby trees can extend to your sewer line and damage it.

Heavy Rainfall: They just don’t cancel ball games and wash out barbecues. Heavy rain storms can overburden city sewer lines. If an overworked public sewer can’t handle excess rainfall, the water can flow into connected sewer lines. This puts your home in the target zone of water backflows.

How Can I Prevent A Sewage Backup in my Basement?

Follow the path of these guidelines:

Dispose of Paper Products Properly: Remember, your toilet is not a one-size-fits-all, take-it-all waste disposal system. Flushing hygiene products like paper towels, diapers or feminine products down the toilet can easily clog sewer lines. Prevent potential disaster by discarding paper products in the trash.

Don’t Pour Grease Down the Drain: Cooking oil can harden within pipes. It gradually stops debris from draining, leading to a clog. The best way to properly dispose of grease or fat is to pour it into a heat-resistant container and place it in the trash after it cools off.

Install a Backwater Prevention Valve: A superb sewage routing system, backwater prevention valves allow sewage to leave, but stops it from backing up into your home. Backwater valves are usually installed into a sewer line and often into a drain line in the basement.

Install a New Plastic Pipe or Cut Tree Roots: Your sewer lateral (the line buried into yard) is at risk to invasive tree roots when it shares the same dirt with them. Replacing your sewer lateral with a new plastic pipe and inspecting and cutting your roots semi-annually can prevent tree roots from growing into your home’s waste disposal system.

Sewage Pump TLC: Don’t leave your sump pump high and dry on performing this dirty job. Regular sewage pump maintenance ensures your sump pump doesn’t sit on debris like silt or gravel, which can be sucked into the pump, destroying the motor. Locate your sump pump on a steady flat brick. Also, be sure the sump basin is encased in a filter fabric to prevent debris from coming in.

What Do I Do If I Have a Sewage Backup in My Basement?

Number One, don’t sit on the problem. It will only get worse and smellier, and quickly have your basement feeling like the Garbage Pail Kids have moved in. Call in a Professional Restoration Company like 380 Companies to eliminate the problem. This is one dangerous issue you cannot Do-It-Yourself. Here’s what you can do to mitigate the damage until help arrives.

Evacuate: Remember, sewage is a very real health hazard. Get everyone, including your pets, out of the basement.

Kill the Power: Turn off all electrical appliances in the basement. They are extremely dangerous if they come into contact with standing water or wet materials. However, if you are unable to safely turn off the power, don’t go near electrical devices and avoid your main circuit breaker if it is located in the basement.

Wear PPE: Do not even think of wading through sewage water without first suiting up in a facemask, eyeglasses, gloves or rubber boots.

Shut off the Valve: Be sure to turn off the main water line of your home.

Be Insured: Don’t forget, sewer backups are not covered by standard home insurance policies, unless you have bought extra endorsements for sewers and drains. Notify your insurance company about the sewage backup and know exactly what your policy covers.

Notify Your Municipal Authority: If your home is connected to a public sewer, inform your municipal authority or sewer department of the issue.

Do Not Use the Water Supply: Until the problem is corrected, don’t flush toilets or drain tubs and sinks.

Rosy Up the Air: As much as possible, try to ventilate the backup. Open windows and doors and add some chlorine bleach to standing water to disinfect it.

In Conclusion

A Sewage Backup Flows Into A Basement … is already the worst joke in history. Don’t let it become a reality for your family. You don’t want to have the very real punchline delivered in your basement. Be sure your basement has both a Smart Sewage Backup Prevention and Escape Plan.

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