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How to Fix a Sewer Line That's Backed Up

What Is a Sewer Line Backup?

Homeowners may notice that their sinks and showers are draining slower than normal, or the toilets aren’t flushing correctly. They may also notice a nasty smell coming from the drains. Before they know it, wastewater and sewage may be backing up from the drains and toilets, making the home seem like a house of horrors.

This is the typical sequence of events when the home’s sewer line gets backed up. All of the home’s drains lead to the sewer line, which leads to the city sewer main. When the sewer line clogs or breaks, the home’s wastewater has nowhere to go but back up into the house or leak into the yard. In any case, a backed-up sewer line is a problem that should be fixed as quickly as possible – or tried to be avoided entirely. Read on to discover how to do both!

What Causes a Sewer Line Backup?

tree roots A variety of factors can cause a sewer line to back up. Tree roots can break through the sewer pipe as they grow and expand, even to the point that they fill entire pipe sections, causing a blockage. Shifting soil and erosion can put stress on the sewer line and cause it to crack or collapse, allowing the surrounding soil to pour in. Old age and general wear can also cause pipes to become brittle and broken, making them more susceptible to sewage backups.

Sewage backups can also result from a clog or obstruction in the sewer line formed by materials that have made their way down the drains. Grease is a huge culprit in sewer line clogs since it tends to get stuck in the sewer pipe as it cools and solidifies, forming a substance that traps other materials like hair and food waste. Sewer line clogs can also form when inappropriate items are flushed down the toilet.

Fixing a Backed-Up Sewer Line

camera inspection When repairing a sewer line that’s backed up, a professional plumber will start by finding the underlying cause, usually using sewer video inspection equipment. By feeding a tiny camera down into the sewer line, the plumber can see firsthand what’s causing the backup and whether or not the sewer pipe is damaged or clogged. This allows them to determine the best method of sewer line repair – or, depending on the situation, they may use multiple processes.

Plumbers can perform hydro jet drain cleaning for clogs to break apart the obstruction using high-pressure water. If tree roots have invaded the pipe, they may need hydro jetting or a rooter machine to clear the line before performing sewer line repair to fix any damage the tree roots caused while entering the sewer line. 

If the pipe is damaged, plumbers have a few options for sewer pipe repair. They could perform excavation to expose the line for repair or opt for trenchless sewer repair, which is quicker and involves far less digging. They may utilize trenchless pipe repair methods like trenchless pipe lining, which involves coating the interior of the sewer line with an epoxy pipe lining. Or they may opt for trenchless methods like pipe bursting or slip lining. However, not every situation can be solved with trenchless methods. Ultimately, the extent and nature of the damage will determine which method plumbers use for repair.

Tips for Preventing Sewer Pipe Backups

After the sewer line repair process is complete (or better yet, before it’s ever needed), there are a few easy ways to help prevent sewer line backups. Homeowners should prevent clogs by avoiding putting grease or cooking oil down the drain and instead putting it in the garbage after it’s cooled (preferably inside a disposable container). Additionally, avoid putting food waste down the drain. They should also ensure the only things getting flushed down the toilets are human waste and toilet paper.

Homeowners should also schedule routine plumbing maintenance every year to help prevent sewage backups. This typically involves a thorough inspection to check for things like damage to the plumbing system, including the piping. Catching and fixing these issues early will help prevent sewage backups and other major plumbing problems. Preventative drain cleaning can also eliminate nasty buildup inside the sewer line and drainage system to prevent clogs and their effects like sewer line backups.

About S and J Plumbing

S and J Plumbing is a trusted full-service plumbing company serving Arlington Heights and the surrounding areas. They offer personalized solutions, honest second opinions, and 24-hour emergency plumbing services. Call them for sewer line services in Arlington Heights, IL

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