How to prevent sewer line backups this summer
It’s a worst-case scenario for many homeowners: a sewer backup in your basement.
When a sewer backs up, it can cause a large amount of damage to flooring, electrical systems, walls, furniture – anything that’s in the basement. The cost of damages can very quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately, sewer clogs and backups are very common in summer. In fact, they are one of the most common plumbing issues homeowners will face this time of year.
However, if you know what can cause a sewage backup, then you can do your best to try and hopefully prevent the situation from occurring in your home.
Why sewer lines back up more often in summer months
Summer months are known for heavy, sometimes unrelenting rain and thunderstorms. While some streets face flooding issues due to periods of large amounts of rain, some basements could face water issues.
Sewer backups are even more common in communities with combined sewer systems. These systems route both stormwater and sewage water to waste treatment plants before directing the water into a water body of some type.
Too much water all trying to head in the same direction can quickly cause backups and other issues, though. This can happen in other sewer systems, not just combined sewer systems, whenever there’s simply too much water trying to rush to the same place.
The cost of cleaning a sewer backup
Let’s not understate exactly how potentially costly a sewer backup can be for homeowners. If you have found or suspect a clog in your main sewer line, then cleaning the sewer line will likely run about $305 on average, according to HomeAdvisor. Sometimes the bill ends up being as low as $100, built it can climb up to $900.
But that cost balloons rather quickly depending on whether damage was actually done, a backup occurred or more advanced cleaning methods were needed. For example, replacing a broken line jumps up to an average bill of $2,500. Some replacements could reach $4,000 or more.
Those are only some of the potential costs regarding the sewer line, though. There are secondary costs that may need to be covered after the sewer line work has been completed. Those secondary costs to consider and research include foundation repairs, sod installation, landscaping work, driveway repair and walkway or patio repairs.
Common causes of sewer backups
There normally is an underlying reason why a sewer line backs up into a basement. We have already covered municipal city sewer system designs, but there are many other common causes of sewer backups that will leave you with a nasty surprise in your home’s lower level.
For one, the age of the sewage system itself can be a huge factor in determining the risk of backups. There are many homes throughout the country that, through no fault of the homeowner themselves, are connected to sewage systems that are simply too old. These homes are at an increased risk of backups, flooded basements and sewer overflows.
Tree roots are another common cause of backups. Because tree roots seek out moisture, they can sometimes try to make their way into cracks in sewer lines or in pipe joints. As the roots grow, so does the problem, which typically presents itself as a blockage. If the tree in question is on private property, then the financial responsibility will fall on the homeowner.
Another common cause of sewer backups that we need to cover are blockages in sanitary mains. This will often occur in a city’s sanitary main. However, if the blockage in the main is not found in time, then it can send sewer back into homes and businesses through floor drains. These problems can be tricky to identify early on, though, because the backup normally happens very slowly. That’s why it is just as important to keep an eye out for slow seepage around floor drains as it is to monitor for rapid water entering a basement.
How to prevent a sewer backup
Homeowners can do their best to prevent a sewer backup by taking a few preventative measures.
One such measure is to install a backup water valve. This is something that a licensed plumber can install. The valve will be placed in a sewer or a drain line so that it can allow sewage water to flow out of the pipes but not back into a home.
Homeowners should also keep a close watch on tree roots. Be sure to trim them when necessary, such as when you can see them poking up through your yard. This could be a job for a professional if the roots are extensive, but it can sometimes be handled as a DIY job.
One final suggestion is to make sure everyone in the household disposes of waste in the right way. Don’t flush items like paper towels down toilets, as they can quickly clog sewer lines. Cooking grease should also be disposed of in a container and then placed in the trash – never down a drain. Cooking grease can solidify in pipes if poured down the drain.
Keep up on maintenance
Perhaps the best way to avoid sewer backups is to stay on top of maintenance. This involves scheduling regular main sewer line cleanings.
Unfortunately many homeowners overlook this step, but it’s one of the better ways to prevent an expensive backup from happening in your house.
Need a plumber?
Whether you are looking at sewer line replacement or are wanting to reimagine a master bathroom, our fully licensed heating, cooling and plumbing professionals at Comfortec can help you accomplish any project at a budget point that works for you.
No project is outside our scope – we’ve done it all. For old cast iron sewer pipes, leaky faucets, broken pipes – anything – give us a call. Our work is always backed up with our Quality Workmanship Guarantee.
We are available for 24-hour emergency service for those unfortunate sewer backup calls at 888-362-2160, but you can also request a quote if it’s a project that’s on your mind.
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