A sewer backup can add a lot of stress to your life and cause extensive damage to your home.
In general, in the event of a sewage backup, everything that is contaminated will have to be disposed of. This includes your carpets, walls, furniture, and other personal belongings. Not only can the damage be extensive, but you may actually be responsible for it if it does happen. Hopefully this article will help prevent that from happening to you by covering the top-5 causes of sewer backups and the steps you can take to help prevent them from happening to you and your home.
Prevention is important because as a homeowner, it is your responsibility to maintain your sewage system. This includes the your sewer lateral, which is the piece of sewer pipe that extends from your home to the main sewer line. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover the cleanup and repair costs associated with sewer backups. That means that by not taking the proper precautions, you could be exposing yourself to potentially thousands of dollars in damages.
Sewer Backups Pose a Serious Health Risk
Not only are sewer backups nasty, but they also pose a serious health risk. Rashes, infections, severe illness, and even death can occur from exposure to sewage contaminated water. The list of pathogens and disease that raw sewage may contain includes:
Given these health risks, you should never attempt to clean up raw sewage without proper safety equipment. If you have been exposed to raw sewage and are experiencing nausea, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea you should seek help from a medical professional immediately. Don't risk your or your family's help, call a professional restoration company to help with your sewage cleanup.
The Top-5 Causes of Sewer Backups
2. Clogged Sanitary Main. The sanitary main is your local municipality's underground network of pipes that collect and dispose of sewage from homes and businesses. A blockage in the sanitary main can lead to sewage backing up through your floor drains and toilets.
However, it takes a long time for a city sewer line to become congested to the point that it will backup so the city is usually pretty good at catching them first. If you do experience a clogged sanitary main, it will usually impact multiple houses on the same block. If you think your backup is the result of a clogged city sewer line you should call the Denver Wastewater Management Division.
3. Collapsed Sewer Lines. Collapsed sewer lines can happen as a result from aging pipes. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, more than 500,000-miles of sewer lines in the U.S. are over thirty years old. according to the . These older pipes have a natural tendency to crack or completely break because they are made out of cast iron and clay piping.
4. Clogged Lateral Sewer Line. Clogs of your sewer line can happen as the result of people flushing anything besides bathroom tissue down the toilet. Other common causes of clogs are excessive hair, bacon grease, and/or cooking oil that people pour down the sink.
5. Combined Sewer Lines. A public sewer system that combines storm drainage and raw sewage can cause backup issues during heavy rains. Depending on how excessive the run-off is, it could simply be left with nowhere to go, which means that these pipelines are going to back up straight into your home. Thankfully this is not a problem in Denver as we have a sanitary sewer system, not a combined sewer system.
The 7 Best Ways to Prevent a Sewer Backup
Many of the causes listed above can easily be avoided by following the following steps:
1. Remove Tree Roots Periodically. If you have a tree growing close to your lateral you should consider having these roots trimmed occasionally or even having the trees removed entirely.
2. Don’t Pour Grease Down Your Sink. Any type of heavy cooking oil or bacon grease should be deposited into a waste bin. Grease hardens as it cools so pouring it down your drain will cause a buildup either in your sewage line or the city's. The proper way to dispose of grease is to pour it into a heat-resistant container until it is cool enough to throw in the garbage bin.
3. Throw Paper Products In The Garbage. The only paper product that your toilet is made to flush is bathroom tissue paper. Heavy material such as paper towels, baby wipes, hygiene wipes, feminine products, or makeup wipes should be thrown in the waste bin— not the toilet. These items do not decompose easily, so flushing them down the drain can lead to clogs.
4. Replace Your Sewer Line With Plastic Pipe. If you have an old clay or cast iron sewer pipe that is common in older homes, or if your sewer line keeps getting clogged with tree roots, considering replacing it with a plastic pipe. While this can be expensive, it can save you from an even more expensive repair down the line.
5. Install a Backwater or Backflow Prevention Valve. This is a check valve that a professional plumber can install in your sewer line to prevent a sewer backup. It only flows in one direction: away from your house. That way if there’s a clog, the excess water and sewage won’t be able to find its way back into you home.
6. Remove Illegal Connections. Not only is it illegal to connect sump pumps, french drains, downspouts, or other water drainage devices to your sewer line, but it can also lead to a backup. These drainage systems can cause sediment to build up in your sewer line and lead to a clog, which could lead to a flood during a storm.
If you have experienced a sewage backup and are in need of professional sewage cleanup and repair services, please call us now at (720)-720-9594. We have emergency crews standing by 24/7 and can have a team of restoration professionals at your home in 60-minutes or less.