4 Things You Need To Know About Sewage Backups

A sewage backup is a homeowner's worst nightmare. This problem is not only smelly and disgusting, it's also a difficult mess to clean up. Here's what you need to know about this plumbing emergency. 

How dangerous is sewage?

Sewage is full of dangerous germs that can make you very sick. The bacteria that cause serious illnesses like Tetanus, Hepatitis A, and Leptospirosis are all present in sewage. A wide variety of fungi and parasites are also found in sewage.

Sewage is dangerous, even if you don't touch it. Sewage produces dangerous gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, which can suffocate you, catch fire, or even explode. If you have sewage backup, you need to get out of your house right away and call a plumber. Additionally, you should never clean up a sewage backup by yourself. It's just too dangerous unless you have the right equipment and the right training. Your plumber will be able to recommend a trustworthy contractor to clean up the mess. 

Why does sewage backup into your house?

Sewage backups are caused by problems in your main sewer line. If the sewage can't travel down the main sewer line and into the sewers, it only has one place to go: back into your house. Clogs are a major cause of sewage backups. Clogs can be caused by flushing things that aren't meant to be flushed, such as paper towels or personal hygienic wipes. Pouring grease down your kitchen drain or overusing your garbage disposal can also cause problems.

Even if you're careful about what you put down the drains, you could still end up with a sewage backup. If you have large trees in your yard (or in your next door neighbor's yard), their roots can grow right into your pipes, blocking the path of the sewage. The pipes can also break or collapse due to age; many older homes have cast iron pipes that don't last as long as modern plastic pipes.

How do plumbers fix these problems?

If your sewage backup was caused by a clog, the plumber will try to remove the clog. Sometimes, this will be done by snaking the line, which means that they push a long cord down the pipe and try to dislodge the clog. In other cases, the clog can be dislodged with chemical products that eat through the clog. If the clog can't be removed with these methods, that section of pipe may need to be replaced. 

If a tree root or a collapsed pipe was the cause of your backup, your main sewer line will need to be replaced. In the old days, plumbers needed to dig up your lawn to reach the pipe, but now the pipe can be accessed by digging a small hole at each end of the pipe.

How do you avoid another sewage backup?

Sewage backups can't always be prevented, but you can do some things to protect yourself. Be very careful about what you flush down the toilet or dump down the drain, since it's easy to create a clog. As a general rule, only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet, and only liquids should be poured down your drains. If your clog was caused by a large tree, you may want to cut it down to prevent its roots from growing through your pipe again. 

Sewage backups are one of the worst things that can happen to your home. If you experience this plumbing emergency, you need to get out of your house and call a plumber right away to find out more.