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July 1, 2021

Protect your home from sewer backups

Sewer backups occur when something blocks the normal flow of wastewater from your house to the city's sewer, causing sewage to back up into your home. There are several potential causes of sewer backups, including aging sewer systems, broken or collapsed sewer lines, tree roots entering sewer lines and sump pump failure.

Signs of a Sewer Backup

There are many indications that you may have a clogged sewer drain, including the following:

  • When a piece of plumbing (e.g., a toilet) is used, water backs up somewhere else.
  • More than one drain in your house is clogged.
  • There's a foul smell coming from your drains.
  • There's seepage at your basement floor drains.

Backup Prevention

A few measures can help prevent clogged sewer drains, including doing the following: 

  • Throw grease and other clog causing materials (E.g., bacon fat, coffee grinds and food waste) in the garbage, not down the sink.
  • Don't flush paper towels, wipes (including flushable wipes), diapers or feminine hygiene products.
  • Install a backwater prevention valve onto your sewer line to ensure sewage goes out but not back into your home.
  • Use your garbage disposal correctly, running water to wash food waste down the drain.
  • Have a professional periodically trim your tree roots.

What to Do After a Sewer Backup

Immediately take these steps if you have a sewer backup:

  1. Wet vacuum affected areas, and clean and remove spillage.
  2. Mop floors and wipe walls with soap and disinfectant, discarding damaged items.
  3. Steam clean or discard wet carpets or drapes.
  4. Have a plumbing professional inspect your drain using a sewer camera and make needed repairs.

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