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7 Signs of a Sewer Backup

Are you worried you might have a sewer backup? From laundry to the kitchen sink, all wastewater drains to the same municipal pipe. This is why it can be so tricky to figure out just where the problem is originating from. The most important thing is identifying the issue early on, before it becomes a mess that ruins your day.

But how do you know that a sewer backup is developing? Palo Alto Plumbing is here to help. Below are the top signs that you have a plumbing emergency.

Top Signs of a Sewer Backup

1) Foul Odors

Bad smells are one of the earliest signs of a sewer problem. Sewer-related odors may smell like mold, sulfur, or even waste. You should note that not all bad smells mean that there’s a problem with your sewer line, but if there’s no clear reason for them, it’s worth having checked out by a professional. If odors persist, there’s a good chance that a sewer backup is imminent.

A properly functioning sewer line shouldn’t smell bad. It’s designed to carry waste and associated smells away from your home. This is a sign that a blockage might be forming. Contact a reputable plumber who can get to the bottom of the issue.

2) Your Drains are Slow

How are your drains behaving? Is the wastewater flowing away at the rate it should? Slow drains in your home are another indicator that there’s already a sewer backup, or one pending. This is caused by a buildup of materials, debris, and other waste in your sewer line. Similarly, tree roots are notorious for breaking pipes in search of water. This eventually causes your sewer to back up. Many homeowners turn to chemical drain cleaners when this occurs, but that’s the wrong choice. In fact, these harsh chemicals can cause more damage to your pipes and are generally ineffective. They can also seep into the area surrounding the broken pipe and cause hazardous effects.

It’s always best to call a professional plumber when you notice sluggish drains and suspect a sewer backup.

3) Clogged or Overflowing Toilets

Trouble with a clogged or overflowing toilet is inconvenient but usually fairly easy to resolve, so don’t panic. But if the toilet starts to consistently backup without an apparent cause, it should concern you. A toilet that regularly gives you grief can be a sign you have a sewer backup that needs to be fixed by a plumber.

This situation is unsanitary, messy, and a real hassle to clean up. If you notice recurrent clogs and backups in your toilet, enlist the services of a professional as soon as possible. An expert plumber will be able to inspect and help determine the main cause of the issue and put a stop to it.

4) Unexplained Lush Spots in Your Yard

Have you recently noticed plants growing in your yard that weren’t there before? Are they healthier, greener, and growing noticeably faster than the rest of your yard? If such changes appear along your sewer pipes, it should be cause to worry because it’s possible that you might have a broken sewer line. The lushness could be a result of a water leak. The fractured sewer pipe may eventually allow debris and other forms of dirt in as the cracks widen.

If you notice a situation like this, it’s a sign that a problem with your sewer line might be in the works, so give a plumber a call for your peace of mind, and to avoid ending up with waste overflowing into your house.

5) Bubbling and Gurgling Noises

Another sign to look out for is strange noises coming from your tub, faucets, or toilets. These can be due to a blockage or a breakage in your sewer line. Usually, strange noises, like bubbling and gurgling, appear when you flush the toilet, pour something down the drain, or even turn on the water.

This happens because the water can’t flow where it should, and the air is getting in where it should not. Don’t ignore these sounds just because they aren’t bothersome to you. They may be a sign of an underlying problem. Prompt action can help you avoid a bigger problem that would cost more money to fix.

6) Marshy Patches

Have you noticed the emergence of pools of fetid waters on your property? This is a strong indication that your sewer line has cracks in it and is seeping water. These Puddles show where the sewer is leaching underneath your yard. This is a real problem, so don’t put off calling an expert.

Have you noticed the emergence of pools of fetid waters on your property? This is a strong indication that your sewer line has cracks in it and is seeping water. These puddles show where wastewater is collecting underneath your yard. When leaks appear beneath yard fixtures, like sidewalks, patios, decks, and driveways, it can cause sinking and structural damage that’s expensive to fix.

7) One Plumbing Fixture Acts Up When You Use Another

Is your toilet filling with water when you turn on your faucet? Or is water backing up in your sink drains when you start your washing machine? These kinds of bizarre occurrences are an indication that you have a clogged sewer line. This is usually a result of blockages in the pipes, and can be caused by a number of things. Enlisting the services of a plumber can help prevent the spread of germs that the sewer backup can cause.

Contact Us

Wastewater can be infested with harmful toxins, bacteria and pathogens that cause illness. As a homeowner, it’s important to be proactive for both the sake of your health and your wallet. If you notice any of the above signs, seek experienced plumbing services as soon as possible. An expert can assess, diagnose and repair your sewer backup using professional tools for the job.

If you’re having issues with your plumbing, we can help. Call us at 650-405-3052 or fill out a quick contact form by clicking here.

At Palo Alto Plumbing, we pride ourselves on providing excellent plumbing services. Our two decades of experience serving clients in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities make us the preferred local choice. We can handle all of your emergency or run-of-the-mill plumbing problems. Give us a call today and let us take the problem off of your hands.

When to Call an Emergency Plumber

Are you wondering if you need a plumber right away or if the problem can wait a little while longer? This is a common question for homeowners to have. After all, what if something seems like a minor issue, but it turns into a real mess that’s twice as expensive to fix? Not to worry—these are some times when you can be sure it’s critical to call a plumbing expert without delay.

A Burst Pipe

If a pipe has burst in your home, stop reading and contact an emergency plumber immediately. Depending on the situation, it doesn’t take very long for gallons and gallons of water to flood your home. Water can cause damage to furniture, flooring, cabinets, and even your home’s insulation and wood framing. If you know how to shut the water off, do that first. Otherwise, give us a call at Palo Alto Plumbing, and move your valuables and electronics to a safe area.

Sewage Backup

It goes without saying that sewage is a health hazard. If you have a backup, talk to an emergency plumber right away. A backup in the sewer line can be caused by things like invasive tree roots, a break in the pipe, or some kind of blockage. A sewage backup is inconvenient but it can also be dangerous. Raw sewage emits fumes and can spread pathogens.

Overflowing Toilet

An overflowing toilet can also be an emergency. If you can’t easily resolve  the issue on your own, talk to a plumber as soon as possible. The water is contaminated with bacteria, making it a health risk. If you aren’t sure of the underlying reason for the problem, a plumbing expert can help you sort it out.

You’re Without Water

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If you suddenly find yourself without running water, this is cause for concern. It impacts your ability to cook, clean, or even use the bathroom. These days, most of us don’t rely on the tap for drinking water, but a lack of running water is still an emergency plumbing problem. Talk to an expert about resolving the issue.

Flood Risks

A variety of plumbing problems can pose a flood risk. Call a professional right away to prevent the need for costly repair work to your home. Water damage can also lead to other issues. For example, mold growth. This can become a real issue in and of itself because mold can be a major health hazard. A burst pipe or a failed sump pump can lead to flooding, as well as a water valve that fails to shut off.

Clogged Drains

Only a plumber will be able to tell you if there’s a hidden reason for your clogged drain. If a drain keeps getting clogged, you likely have a bigger problem on your hands than you realize. This is especially true if there’s something stopping up more than one drain in your home. Don’t risk rising water. Give a pro a call to make sure you don’t have a sewer problem.

Water Heater Failure

Another common plumbing emergency is when your water heater gives up the ghost. Discolored water is one clue, but the most obvious sign your water heater has failed is a freezing cold shower in the morning. Another thing you might notice is that your water has taken on a strange smell. Be sure to call a local plumbing service to take a look at your water heater. You don’t want to put this off because a faulty water heater can actually have hidden leaks. The last thing you want to do is spend hours mopping up all the water from its tank.

Leaky Faucets

You might not think about it, but old hardware can cause leaks too. Even if that isn’t the case, a dripping sink, shower, or toilet can really add to your monthly water bill costs, especially in the long run. Standing water is also an unpleasant mess to clean up. It often smells bad and can cause both mold and rust. Additionally, pests are drawn to water too.

DIY Plumbing Mishaps

DIY plumbing can also lead to some costly mistakes. Some of them require emergency plumbing services. Here’s a list of the most common DIY plumbing mishaps…

Forgetting to Turn Off the Water

One of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to home plumbing projects is that people often forget to turn off the water before they start taking things apart. Forgetting to turn off the water will most likely lead to water spraying from the loosened connection. What’s worse is that  you probably won’t be able to stop the flooding by putting things back together until you turn the water off at the source. If you don’t know how to shut the water off, it’s hard to think clearly when you’re in a panic and water is pouring into your home.

Too Much Drain Cleaner

Chemical drain cleaners can actually do more harm than good, especially if you use them on a regular basis to deal with clogged drains. For one thing, they’re hard on your pipes. Their toxic fumes can also be a hazard to your health.

Incorrect Toilet Placement

An incorrect toilet placement is another issue we regularly see. While this might seem like a simple project you can handle on your own, it still requires specialized knowledge. Often, the new toilet doesn’t quite fit right, or the replacement bowl is the wrong shape. This can come down to incorrect measurements. For example, older homes have a different standard than more modern designs, so this is something to be aware of.

Talk to an Emergency Plumber

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our licensed plumbers can solve anything from a drippy faucet to a cracked sewer pipe. Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable plumbers can ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services. Contact us at 650-405-1460 or fill out a contact form on our website to chat with one of our representatives about all of your plumbing needs!

How to Handle an Emergency Water Leak

Dealing with an emergency water leak is not generally one of the average homeowner’s preferred activities, but sometimes plumbing emergencies happen and require immediate intervention.

The worst part about water leaks? They’re sneaky. A leak isn’t always as obvious as the alarming gush of water from a broken pipe. They can show up as a slowly growing puddle of water on your floor. Perhaps a leak has formed a bubble under the skin of your wall paint, slowly expanding like a water balloon ready to burst. Leaks can start out small and grow gradually bigger, all the while dripping into the foundation of your home, collecting mold and attracting unwanted pests.

The least pleasant leak situations involve issues with the main sewage line. If you’re experiencing urgent problems, such as sewage backups, burst pipes, or flooding, you’re bound to feel a bit of panic and confusion: Where is all this water coming from? How bad is it? How do I stop it? This is not how I planned on spending my morning!

Take a breath and get moving. Signs of a severe water leak require immediate attention. If you find yourself with a water leak, acting quickly and intentionally can help prevent lasting damage to your home.

Act Fast: Turn Your Water Off

If you are able, immediately locate your water meter and turn off the water to your building. This step is crucial to stopping even more flooding from occurring. It is also a good idea to unplug electronics and appliances. If necessary, some may prefer the precaution of turning off the whole circuit breaker. However, should accessing the circuit breaker require you to stand in wet areas, wait for a professional. Water and electricity are a deadly combination that you don’t want to risk.

Clean Up the Mess

Clean up the spillage immediately. Still or standing water can cause serious damage to floors. If left to sit for too long, dampness can cause wooden planks to expand, grow mold, become uneven, develop stains, and buckle. These unsightly symptoms of water damage are also hazardous to the health and safety of those that live in your home, especially if the leak is coming from a broken sewer pipe.

Wear protective gear, such as boots, gloves, and goggles, and grab a mop. To soak up larger amounts of water, you’ll need towels and anything absorbent that you can spare. After you clean the water from the floor, wash and sanitize the parts of the house that the water has touched to prevent contamination. It’s best to use a dehumidifier and fans to dry out a room after it has been flooded. Leave these running overnight and keep the area ventilated, otherwise you risk mold and mildew.

Call a Professional Plumber

Serious water leak emergencies could be a symptom of a problem with the sewer main line. To prevent guesswork and fix the problem before the damage worsens, it’s best to get a professional assessment. Licensed plumbers will have the equipment and expertise to find the root of the problem quickly and perform the required maintenance. Do not try to independently fix a plumbing issue that caused flooding—you may unintentionally cause more damage.

Search for the Source

While you wait for plumbing services, play detective and try to find the source of the water leak. See if you can find where the flood originated from by listening for dripping or hissing sounds. In a pinch, silicone tape can temporarily patch over smaller leaks until a professional arrives. If the source comes in the form of a faulty sink or a clogged toilet, don’t worry—you’ve already turned the water off, so no additional flooding will occur. If you’re stumped about where the leak could be coming from, wait for your plumber. They will be able identify the cause and source of the leakage.

Dealing with Damage

The best piece of advice for dealing with water damage is to prevent it in the first place, but sometimes emergencies are inevitable. Do what is in your power to ensure that you deal with the original spillage in the moment. Deep clean and dry all rugs, furniture, and floor pieces that were soaked. If you have already incurred damage on your drywall, insulation, walls, or flooring, these may need to be removed and replaced. Dispose of damaged items that are no longer safe to use.

Keep Monitoring

Especially in the first few months after flooding or leakages, pay attention. Is your water bill abnormally high? Is there any new wall discoloration developing? Do you hear hisses or drips anywhere in the house? If you find that the answer is yes to any of these questions, you are likely dealing with another leak. Address any new plumbing problems promptly.

Make Maintenance a Habit

Regular plumbing maintenance helps prevent emergency problems like severe water leaks. Even after you receive plumbing services and get any obvious leaks repaired, it’s important to schedule regular plumbing maintenance checks at least every two years. Taking care of your home’s plumbing system decreases the chances of plumbing emergencies, and it also ensures that your systems stay safely up to code.

Making sure that your plumbing system is routinely inspected decreases the chances that leaks will sneak up on you. Plumbers can detect problems before they start. Catching small issues early on might require a little extra preparation on your part, but it will save you from emergencies, damage, and much larger bills down the road.

Contact Us

If you’re experiencing a water leak, we can help. Call us at 650-374-0868 or fill out a contact form by clicking here to get connected with one of our representatives.

At Palo Alto Plumbing, we pride ourselves on providing excellent service. Our two decades of experience serving clients in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities make us the preferred local choice for quality plumbing services. We can handle all of your emergency or run-of-the-mill plumbing problems. Give us a call and let us take the problem off of your hands.

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