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Sewer Backups: Causes and Prevention

Sewer backup is one of the worst things that could happen to your plumbing system, and a timely response can save you a lot of trouble. Your local HVAC and plumbing company Palo Alto Plumbing Heating and Air shares an overview of what causes sewers to back up, and what you can do to prevent them.


What Happens When the Sewer Backs Up?

Homes have two lines that connect to the outside: an incoming water line and outgoing sewer lines. The latter moves wastewater that comes from various parts of the house, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room. When the sewer line gets blocked or breached, wastewater could back up into the house and contaminate incoming water. In addition to the health risks posed by contaminated tap water, it can also accelerate mold growth and persistent odors.

Signs of a Backed-Up Sewer Line

There are a few ways that you can tell if your sewer line has problems, and taking immediate action, like calling a local plumber as soon as possible, can prevent bigger problems. Pay attention when the shower drain or toilet drains slowly: if more than one drain has the same issue, then you’re looking at a sewer line problem.

Another sign you should keep an eye out for is when waste from another pipe backs up into another when you flush the toilet or drain the washing machine. When this happens, a timely response is needed, as wastewater from sources such as toilets can be a sanitation problem.

How to Prevent Sewer Back-ups

Knowing what causes sewer back-ups and taking steps to prevent them can help prevent them from happening. Its causes can be split into two categories:

Factors That You Can’t Control — These are factors that can cause sewer lines to back up, no matter how close you keep an eye on your sewer system. These include flood waters during a storm, clogged sewer mains, or the soil settling around drainage pipes. 

Factors That You Can Control — These are causes that can be controlled through best practices, and proper care and maintenance of your plumbing system. Installing root barriers near sewer lines can prevent damage caused by tree roots. Using only toilet paper when using the toilet, as well as avoiding dumping grease and fat down the drains can also help prevent clogging.

Call Palo Alto for Your Plumbing and HVAC Needs

Palo Alto is your leading provider of plumbing and air conditioning services. Give us a call at (650) 856-3400 or fill out our contact form. We serve customers in Palo Alto and the Bay Area.