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Tips to Prevent Sewer Backups

When heavy rains fall, especially in the spring and summer months, homeowners might be most concerned with issues like a leaking roof or overflowing gutters. Sewer backups, although not as common, can often accompany heavy rains, and can easily cause thousands of dollars in damage to floors, walls, and even furniture. Learn more about what causes sewer backups, as well as how you can protect against this type of damage in your home.

What causes a sewer backup?

A number of factors influence the frequency of sewer backups, some of which can be prevented and some that are a result of the state of sewer systems in your area.

  • One of the most common causes of sewer backups is an aging sewer system. The average sewer system in the U.S. is over thirty years old, and in many cases, aging systems can spell trouble for homeowners.

  • Increased input into a sewer system can be a contributing factor. As the number of houses feeding into a sewer system increases through new construction, some systems simply cannot handle it. If an excessive amount of rainwater or melted snow enters the sewer system at once, this can also cause overload the sewer system.

  • Improper maintenance is another common culprit, as many people are not aware of the type of precautions you can take to help prevent clogs and backups.

What are the warning signs of a sewer backup?

If you see the following warning signs, it’s best to stop using your water and contact a plumber immediately:

  • Multiple drains in the house are clogged

  • Noticeable seepage coming from the basement floor drains

  • Repeated bubbling occurs after you flush a toilet or when a sink is trying to drain

  • Toilets aren’t flushing properly, even after plunging

  • A foul smell is coming from your drains

How can I help prevent sewer backups?

Although you can’t completely eliminate the possibility of a sewer backup, there are some steps you can take to help prevent this type of damage.

  • Be sure to properly dispose of grease or cooking oil. Never pour these items down the drain, and always dispose of them by pouring them into a heat-resistant container and throwing them away. Many people think that washing grease down the drain with hot water will suffice, but grease tends to solidify as it cools, causing dangerous clogs.

  • Dispose of paper products safely. Paper towels, disposable diapers, feminine products, and hygienic wipes should never be flushed down the toilet, as they do not deteriorate quickly and can contribute to clogged sewer lines.

  • Regularly trim invasive tree roots. Shrubs and trees that are seeking moisture can make their way into cracks in the sewer line, causing extensive damage. Different types of shrubs and trees behave differently, but as they grow, so do their roots and the damage they cause. Consider having a professional inspect and trim these roots to reduce the likelihood that they will grow into your sewer line.

Depending on your homeowners' insurance policy, you may or may not be protected from damage resulting from a sewer backup. If you’re uncertain about what’s covered and whether you need to purchase additional coverage, reach out to your local agent. They will be happy to help you get the coverage you need to protect your home and belongings.

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