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A Wrong-Way Situation: What to Do When Your Sewer Line Backs Up

Sewers line backs up can be a headache and costly. Its a subject that most people would rather avoid and if everything is ok in the house, that’s just fine.

But if you need to get help fast for a flooded basement, you might be getting a crash course you didn’t want in what happens when your sewer line backs up.

Here is a look at what you need to know when it comes to dealing with and then putting right, an unfortunate and smelly situation in your basement.


When and why you might get a back-up situation

There are a number or reasons and scenarios which could lead to raw sewage backing up into your home via your drains and plumbing.

If there has been a lot of recent thunderstorms and heavy rain, this can put undue strain on the sanitary sewers and septic systems connected to your home, and the sewage and excess water has got to go somewhere when the levels become too much.

These large volumes of storm and ground water entering your sewage system within such a short timeframe, could simply overwhelm the drains, resulting in a back-up heading straight into your basement in some cases.

Other potential causes include blockages in your sewer system, which could be down to any number of different things, the most common issues being grease, general debris and other non-solubles such as oil and even cat litter, which is not as uncommon as you would think.

Putting anything down your wastewater pipes that is too large for it to cope, and even putting an excessive amount of diapers and sanitary napkins, all have the capacity to block things up and cause a potential back-up.


Your first course of action

It is likely that you might need to get some help from a drainage contractor in order to successfully clear the problem and ensure that everything is back to normal, but there are a few things you can do to secure the area as best you can and stop things getting worse.

Try to ensure that you close all of your drain openings with suitable stoppers or plugs and you might need to use something like a string mop as a temporary measure to help plug your toilet and create some sort of seal that will hopefully prevent the problem from getting any worse.


Take health and safety seriously

It should be remembered that raw sewage presents a significant health risk, especially to vulnerable groups like children and pets, which means that you should seal off the affected area so that no one can gain access.

Everyone’s health is at risk when sewage backs up into your property, and it should also be noted that sewage back-ups do have the potential to contaminate any private water source you might be using, so be mindful of these risks and use bottled water if you are not sure whether your drinking water supply has been affected.

As well as generating a foul smell that manages to permeate the air, sewage contains bacteria, a variety of germs and even viruses, which could potentially cause your home to be contaminated and temporarily unfit for habitation until the problem has been completely fixed.

It should be said that the scale of your health risk is normally in proportion to the amount of sewage that has managed to find its way into your property.

As a general guide, the more human waste that is present in the sewage back-up, the greater your need for vigilance when it comes to assessing your health and safety and the more urgent it becomes to ensure that you thoroughly clean the infected area before using it again.


Other things you need to do

As soon as you notice there has been a sewage back-up, do not immediately attempt to clean the area yourself without getting expert advice on the situation.

Do make sure that you turn off your heating and air systems so that you prevent any of the flow from reaching floor vents. You might also need to contact your local sewer district if you believe that there is an issue with the public drains that has caused the back-up to your property.

Get some professional help if you have a sewage back-up to deal with. There are so many issues and health risks attached to this problem that it makes sense to call in someone who knows how to deal with the problem as effectively and efficiently as possible.

John Madison worked as a plumber for much of his working life. Recently retired he wasn’t quite sure how to fill all the spare time he had, and was encouraged by his granddaughter to write some articles.