Skip to Content

How To Spot An Impending Sewer Backup


Sewer backups can be one of the worst experiences in a homeowner’s life. Not only is there a hefty cost associated with professional cleanup and sanitation, but the potential health risks involved can be too many to list. Nobody wants to deal with a sewer backing up into their home – and nobody who has experienced the situation will even want to talk about it.

Working with an expert La Verne plumber specializing in sewer drain cleaning is the most effective way to prevent these messy, disgusting, and potentially hazardous problems from happening to you. It’s also important to recognize the early warning signs so you can call an expert drain cleaning service to deal with it before it gets worse.

Where Backups Occur

  • Main Sewer Line: The most serious sewer backups occur in the main sewer line, the pipe that all of your drains lead to. This pipe also delivers wastewater to the main municipal sewer line or a private septic tank. If your drain clog or blockage is in the mainline, it’s not safe to turn the water on or flush the toilets in your home because there’s simply nowhere for the waste to go.
  • Single Drain: Clogs can also occur in a single drain line. These drains are often human-caused; for example, as the result of putting large food scraps down your kitchen sink. These less serious clogs are more easily resolved with tools like a drain snake or a toilet auger.

What Causes A Sewage Backup

  • Natural Events: Sewer backups can be caused by natural events that are not controlled by humans, such as flooding, snow/ice melt, or tree roots penetrating a sewer line (very common in older homes with mature trees). Pipes can also wear out or become thin over time, causing dips or ruptures in the line. Sludge can also build up over years of use, leaving no room for normally acceptable amounts of waste to pass through. Most of these issues can be easily avoided by having preventative maintenance performed by your local plumber in La Verne, CA.
  • Human Error: Sewer line backups can also be caused by humans. Hair, grease, food scraps, and more can get caught on the ridges of the pipes, in bellies, or on roots. These clogs can overwhelm the system and result in backups.

What Are Common Signs of Sewage Backup?

Knowing the early warning signs can mitigate risks. This is crucial to keeping a healthy sewer drainage system.

  1. Slow Draining: Slow draining drains and toilets are typically one of the first signs of a blockage in the sewer line. To tell if a backup is a single drain line or the mainline, use another drain or toilet on the lowest level of the home. If that drain works properly, then the backup most likely exists in only a single drain. In this case, you may be able to unclog the drain yourself. If you can see and hear slow draining, then it’s most likely a problem with the mainline. We recommend staying away from chemical drain cleaners because they can be dangerous and corrode your pipes, making a backup more likely in the future. Instead, try plunging or snaking the drain first to see if you can clear enough blockage to allow water to pass.
  2. Wetness Around Floor Drains: If you have a basement, laundry room, or an attached garage, you probably have floor drains. In homes with these drains, sewer lines will often back up into these areas before backing up into the toilets. If you detect wetness at these drains, it’s a good sign that your wastewater isn’t flowing freely and is backing up. This means that a clog exists, but it hasn’t completely stopped the flow of water yet. If you notice this, call a plumber as soon as you can because it’s only a matter of time before a full and complete blockage occurs and can start flooding these areas of your home.
  3. Gurgling: As you may know, gurgling is not a good sign as it can mean a slow drain. If you are using one appliance, like the washing machine, and hear a toilet gurgling or bubbling, you may have a main sewer pipe backup. Another sign is when you run the bathroom sink and water backs up into the shower. Even if you hear minor gurgling after flushing the toilet, you should know that something is wrong. It could be a small clog that you can remedy yourself, but it could also be the symptom of a backup.
  4. Foul Stench: If you notice an unpleasant odor near your drains, you probably have a sewer backup. This odor comes from wastewater not being able to travel freely within your pipes. Instead, it is getting stuck and sitting in one area of the pipe for too long, releasing a stench that can be not only bothersome but unhealthy to breathe. Consider all of the bacteria sitting in your pipes and being released into your home. A stench is uncomfortable, but letting unknown sewage bacteria enter your home is can be downright dangerous.

What to Do

If you notice any of these signs, you need to contact the experts. Professional plumbers will identify where the clog is – whether in the sewer pipe outside the home or in one of the pipes leading to the mainline – and then determine the best course of action to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Homeowners often make the mistake of procrastinating plumbing repairs. However, when it comes to clogged sewer lines, you need to act quickly.

If you suspect a problem, make sure to turn the water to your home off until a La Verne plumber arrives to inspect the line.

Sewer Backup Prevention Tips

Once the sewer line is cleared, your local plumber might make some recommendations for preventative maintenance. If they find that there is nothing wrong with the actual sewer line, you may need to make some behavior modifications, including no longer flushing baby wipes.

If there is a problem with the line, your plumber will provide recommendations for how to repair it. Depending on the situation and cause of the backup, this could mean the installation or repair of a backflow preventer.

Sewer line backups are very common, and no sewer system will last forever. If your home is over thirty years old, your sewer system and lines are at a higher risk for potential problems so it’s important to be extra cautious about what is flushed down the toilet.

Tell us about your last sewer backup experience by commenting below!

The post How To Spot An Impending Sewer Backup appeared first on Alpine Plumbing and Rooter.

Share To: