Tips for Preventing Sewage Backups
Having sewage backing up inside your home can be an absolute nightmare. Sewage backups can lead to extensive water damage and a costly repair bill. Backups can also contaminate the affected area with bacteria and viruses. The issue is most commonly caused by a clog in your sewer line, but backups can also result from flooding or heavy rains. Luckily, most sewage backups are quite easy to avoid as long as you make sure to take steps to protect your plumbing and sewer systems.
Avoid Putting Fat, Oil, and Grease Down the Drain
FOG (fat, oil and grease) clogs are by far the most common source of sewage backups, which is why you should always try to keep these things out of your drains. Unfortunately, many people wrongly believe that fat and grease aren’t an issue as long as they’re flushed down the drain with plenty of hot water. The truth is that no amount of hot water will ever fully prevent fats from solidifying as they make their way through your pipes and out into your sewer line.
If you regularly put any fat or grease down the drain, it will eventually begin to collect on the inside of your pipes and sewer line. This leads to a sticky blob that will then trap other solid waste and begin to create a major clog. If this clog occurs in the sewer line, you may start to have sewage backing up inside your showers and drains as you continue to use your plumbing.
Always Use Sink Strainers
In addition to fat, oil, and grease, you should also try to keep as much food and other solids out of your drains and sewer system. The easiest way to do this is always to use sink strainers in your kitchen drain. It is also a good idea to have a strainer or cover over your shower drain to keep hair out. For men who shave over the sink, you should also make sure to use a drain cover or otherwise keep your hair from being washed down.
Don’t Use Your Garbage Disposal Like a Second Trash Can
If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, you can usually get away with putting a bit more food down that drain. Still, it is essential that you always flush the disposal with cold water whenever in use and still try to avoid putting too many solids down the drain. The food you wash off your plates and even some kitchen scraps is generally fine. However, you definitely want to avoid any starchy foods, fibrous fruits, and vegetables, coffee grounds or anything like rice or pasta that might swell inside your pipes.
Never Flush Anything Except Toilet Paper
Flushing solids other than toilet paper and human waste down the toilet is the second leading cause of clogged sewer lines and backups. Toilet paper is specifically designed to break down into tiny pieces when exposed to water and flushed. However, most other paper products and other solids will always remain intact as they travel through your pipes and can easily lead to a major clog.
This is why you should never flush paper towels, tissues, feminine hygiene products, cotton pads, condoms or any other solids. Even so-called flushable wipes are a bad idea as most of them still won’t break down despite what their name suggests.
Pay Attention for Any Signs of a Clogged Pipe
In most cases, you will be able to notice some tell-tale signs that your sewer line is beginning to clog before it becomes severe enough to lead to sewage backing up inside your home. One fairly obvious sign is if all of the drains in your home are suddenly much slower than normal. If the issue is limited to only one drain or one part of the home, it indicates that a pipe inside your home is partially clogged. However, if every drain in the home is slow, then you will definitely want to have your sewer line cleaned before it becomes fully clogged.
Gurgling or bubbling noises coming from your drains, toilets, or pipes are another thing to watch out for. These noises are often accompanied by slow drains and indicate that waste isn’t traveling down the sewer system as smoothly and quickly as it should.
Have Your Plumbing Inspected Regularly
We always recommend having your plumbing and sewer systems inspected every year just to ensure that there are no leaks and everything is working as it should. During the inspection, a plumber can use a camera to check the condition of your sewer line and ensure that there are no tree roots or anything else clogging the line. If there is anything in your line, it is always a good idea to have the line rooted, or hydro-jetted to remove the blockage and ensure that it can’t become severe enough to cause a backup.
Don’t Plant Trees or Shrubs Near Your Sewer Line
Tree roots are another common cause of sewer line clogs and sewer backups. Roots often get inside sewer lines as they grow in search of water and nutrients. Unfortunately, the water and waste inside of the sewer line will fertilize the roots and can quickly cause them to grow large enough to block the line and capture any solids completely.
This is precisely why you should always avoid planting any trees or shrubs anywhere near your sewer line. If you already have large trees on your property, there isn’t much you can do to protect your sewer line from roots other than cutting the trees down. This makes having your sewer line regularly inspected even more essential if you do have any trees growing near the line.
Make Sure Your Home Has a Sewer Cleanout
A sewer cleanout is a pipe that provides direct access to the sewer line. All new homes should have two cleanouts, one that allows access to the sewer line inside the home and one that allows access to the sewer lateral in your yard. However, many older homes don’t have cleanouts, which makes it far more difficult to both inspect and clean out the sewer line when needed. If your home doesn’t have any cleanouts, we highly recommend having them installed as this can also go a long way toward preventing and overcoming clogs and backups.
Install a Sewer Backflow Valve
If your yard is prone to flooding, you frequently experience backups or you just want to be extra safe, installing a sewer backflow valve is a fantastic option. These valves are installed in the sewer lateral just outside the building, and they work to prevent sewage from being able to flow back into the home.
Inside the valve is a flap. When waste flows out of the sewer line, it flows over the flap. However, if waste tries to flow back up the pipe, it forces the flap closed so that the sewage is trapped and can’t flow further back into the home. While retrofitting a sewage system with a backflow valve isn’t always cheap, it is still much less expensive than dealing with a major backup.
If you’re experiencing a sewage backup or any other plumbing or sewer issue, High 5 Plumbing is ready to help. We specialize in drain cleaning, hydro jetting, camera inspections and other sewer services, and our team also repairs and installs water lines, water heaters, sump pumps and a full range of other plumbing appliances and fixtures.
To schedule a sewer inspection or any other plumbing service in the Denver Metro area, give us a call today.