What Causes a Sewer Backup?

A number of our posts have discussion water damage, typically from a flood.  We’ve talked about cleaning the flooded areas, detecting moisture in the smallest of margins, and using an IICRC-certified restorer (like those of us here at G.W. Savage) to not only fully dry a home or office, but to get the space completely back to its original pre-loss condition.  A professional is trained to identify moisture and determine if there is mold or the potential for mold growth – then acting fast so that the mold is not able to develop.

Beyond flooding, homes and businesses can encounter water damage caused by sewer backups.  This backup in your sewer pipes are not only tough to repair (and expensive!) but most certainly create health hazards for those who are inhabiting the space.

What causes a sewer backup?

1 – Tree Roots. Trees and other large greens (brush, shrubs) have roots that could make their way into sewer line cracks. Even if there is no tree above the piping, the culprit could be from a neighboring yard. As the roots grow, the pipe crack will begin to grow and the service pipe will begin to get blocked up. If the root isn’t causing a blockage in the pipe, the root could also wrap itself around the service line which then crushes it and blocks the sewage.

2- Older Sewer Lines.  An older home typically will have older piping – this older piping would have been built using cast iron and clay, both which break down over time. As the pipe breaks down, it then will crack and collapse into itself, causing a blockage.  Newer homes use plastic service piping, which lasts much longer.

3- A Clog. The drain pipes in your bathroom or kitchen may clog from time to time, and it’s not that much of a deal.  If your sewer line gets clogged, that will cause sewage backup coming into your home.  A clog of any sort can be prevented with regular maintenance. Of course, a clog can also be prevented with proper use…so don’t use your toilet as a trash can, be smart about utilizing the garbage disposal, and do not pour any cooking grease down the kitchen drain. Things that really don’t belong in the drains will, in time, clog up your sewer line.