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sewage backup

Warning Signs of a Sewage Backup

Whether it’s after a backpacking trip through the mountains where there’s not a bathroom in sight or after having to use a porta-potty at an outdoor festival, it doesn’t take long to be reminded of the glories of indoor plumbing.

The sewer lines in your home carry away all the waste from your sinks, tubs, toilets, and laundry, and most of us don’t give these plumbing lines a second thought…as long as they’re doing their job, that is. A sewer backup will all-too-quickly remind you of the necessity of this plumbing system performing at 100 percent. The sewer lines in your home are designed like a tree, with a main line running from your house to the street and secondary lines running off of it that connect each drain to the main line. Sewage backups can happen in the smaller secondary lines, due to clogs in the pipes or structural defects, or in the main line, due to issues like tree root infiltration or if there has been wet weather and flooding around your home.

It’s important to keep an eye out for early warning signs of sewage backup, as the issue can quickly turn from a slightly annoying slow drain to an overflowing toilet, bringing with it nasty bacteria and parasites that are hazardous to your family’s health.

Be aware of the following signs that you most likely have a backup somewhere in your sewer system:

  1. Multiple clogged drains. One clogged drain is most likely due to a blockage from hair, paper towels, or other items that may have accidentally gotten flushed down the toilet, and the issue can usually be remedied by unclogging the one affected drain. However, multiple drains being clogged at the same time points to a bigger problem somewhere in your sewer lines. This is especially true if the clogged drains are ones that aren’t often used, such as a guest bathroom shower or a laundry room sink.
  2. Water backs up in other drains. When you use your plumbing, watch for water that backs up in other places, as this is oftentimes a sign of a sewage backup. For example, when you flush the toilet you notice gurgling sounds in your shower or while the washing machine is running there is bubbling in the toilets.
  3. Bubbles and gurgling. When water tries to get past a clog in a drain, air can get trapped which causes bubbling and gurgling sounds. You might notice bubbles or gurgling noises when a sink is trying to drain or when you flush a toilet. If you live in an older home surrounded by trees, these gurgling noises often indicate that the tree roots that have made their way into the pipes.

Because your home’s sewer system handles waste rather than clean water, it’s important to let professionals handle any sewage backup problems. If you suspect you have a blockage or backup problem, contact a professional right away who can help you remedy the situation before you find yourself ankle-deep in raw sewage.

Learn more about the dangers of raw sewage. 

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