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What Causes Sewage to Back Up?

Posted on: August 21, 2019

Len the Plumber technician holding up very long and large string of debris that was clogging up a DMV Metro home's sewer line.Sewage backups can be caused by a number of issues with your plumbing system. Fundamentally, sewage will back up whenever wastewater is unable to pass through your pipes and sewer line.

Here’s a closer look at:

  • The most common causes of sewage backups
  • How to know when you’re dealing with a sewage backup
  • What to do when sewage backs up into your home

If you’re dealing with an emergency sewer backup and you need help now, call Len The Plumber at 800-950-4619 for 24-hour emergency service at no extra charge!

We provide FREE estimates and a 2-hour response time for sewage backups and other sewer line emergencies.

5 Problems That Commonly Cause Sewage Backups

  1. Clogs: Anything from grease and food to hair and small objects can create blockages in your pipes and sewer line. These clogs can slow down or stop the flow of wastewater through your plumbing system, causing backups.
  2. Cracked sewer lines: When sewer lines crack due to age, dirt settling, tree roots, or any external damage, dirt and rocks can enter the line, creating a blockage that can cause sewage to back up into your home.
  3. Broken or collapsed sewer lines: If a sewer line is completely severed or collapses, wastewater will be unable to get where it needs to go. Some may start to run off into the dirt, but the majority of it will stay in the line and build up there, again, causing a backup.
  4. Tree root infiltration: Tree roots will gravitate toward water and nutrients, including nutrients that seep from sewer lines. If there are any slight cracks in sewer lines, tree roots can start to grow through these cracks, opening them up and creating a blockage that causes a backup.
  5. Problems with the municipal sewer system: When the city’s sewer line is unable to accept wastewater coming from your home’s sewer line, backups can also happen. Usually, this occurs when municipal sewer systems are overwhelmed with runoff water after heavy rains.

How Do I Know If I Have a Sewage Backup?

Graphic from Len The Plumber explaining how to diagnose a backed up sewer line.

If you see or smell sewage coming up through any of your home’s drains, you likely have sewage backing up into your home. Other signs of sewage backups can include:

  • Bubbling or gurgling drains or toilets
  • Clogs in multiple drains, especially the lowest ones in your home
  • Plumbing fixtures experiencing backups when a different fixture is used, like sewage backing up into your tub after you flush a toilet or when you use your shower
  • Backups in your basement (or in first-floor fixtures if you don’t have a basement) when you use water in other areas of your home

Who’s Responsible for Fixing a Sewage Backup?

It depends on the exact cause of the backup. If problems with the municipal sewer line or system cause backups in your home, the city may be responsible for covering the cost of repairs.

If any problems with your home’s sewer line are to blame, you’ll be responsible for the repairs.

It’s important to point out that even if you’re the one who’s responsible for the repairs:

  • Your homeowners policy may cover the damage and the cost of repairs.
  • You should review your policy and contact your insurance provider to verify if you’re covered for this type of damage.

What Should I Do If I Have a Sewage Backup?

Contact Len The Plumber ASAP for emergency sewer line service.

Call 800-950-4619 for emergency sewer line service and a 2-hour response time. We never charge extra for after-hours service, and we always provide FREE estimates for sewer line service.

You can also contact us online for non-emergency sewer line service.

When it comes to sewer line problems, we’ve seen and fixed it all! Our expertise can give you confidence that we’ll accurately and efficiently diagnose the problem and provide the proper repairs. Plus, with Len The Plumber, you can always expect:

  • Upfront pricing
  • First-class service
  • Top-quality solutions from experts who truly care about restoring your plumbing and sewer system!

Len The Plumber has been offering exceptional plumbing services throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. for more than two decades. That’s just one reason why we’re a top-rated local plumbing company!

We invite you to experience our excellence for yourself, and we look forward to helping you with any of your plumbing needs!

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