A dangerous and messy situation that should be avoided at all costs, backed-up sewer lines are a serious issue that require immediate attention. Sewage backup occurs when sewer lines become obstructed. When the wastewater is unable to flow through the drainage pipes, they become blocked, causing water to back up into your home that is full of contaminants and viruses. Beyond the risk of serious illness, this backed-up water can cause mold and water damage to your home as well. It’s crucial to understand the steps it takes in order to prevent this issue, recognize when the problem occurs and learn how to deal with it if it does.
HOW DOES SEWAGE BACKUP OCCUR?
Flooding. Heavy rainfall can overwhelm your city’s sewer lines.
Clogs. Whether it’s your home drain pipes or the main sewer line getting clogged, sewage can back up into your home either way.
Tree roots. Long tree roots can intertwine with your sewer line, damaging it in the process.
HOW TO AVOID SEWAGE BACKUP?
Being aware of what is going down your drains is crucial to avoiding clogs. Make sure hair isn’t getting pulled down the shower drain and grease isn’t getting poured out into the kitchen sink.
A simple solution to keep hair from going down the shower drain is a shower drain hair trap, a typically low-cost solution that can be found at most home improvement and big box stores. A DIY solution you can try is placing an old, used fabric softener sheet over the drain. The hair will stick to the sheet and allow water to flow down the drain. After you’re finished showering, just toss the sheet into the trashcan.
If you’ve just prepared a meal and need somewhere to pour the grease, don’t pour it into the kitchen sink. As grease cools, it hardens, and any grease or cooking oil that is poured into your kitchen sink will end up hardening in your pipes, preventing debris from draining. Instead, try keeping old spaghetti sauce jars handy and pour it into that. Allow it to cool and harden, then toss it in the trash.
If your sewage pump is sitting on any kind of debris, such as silt or gravel, move it on top of a steady, flat brick to keep debris from being sucked up into the pump.
Make sure you dispose of paper products properly. Your sewer lines can easily be clogged by flushing hygiene products such as feminine products, paper towels, diapers and baby wipes that don’t indicate they’re flushable. These items should be placed in the trash.
WHAT TO DO IF IT HAPPENS
Sometimes, things beyond your control just happen. If sewage backup has infiltrated your basement, calling a professional restoration company is the best way to deal with the problem. The restoration team will have the equipment and experience required to deal with the hazardous wastewater. Before the team arrives, however, there are measures you can take to help mitigate the damage.
Make sure any other family members or pets have cleared the area, as the sewage wastewater is teeming with contaminants.
Make sure the electrical power in the flooded area is turned off. Any wires or appliances that could come in contact with standing water are a potential hazard. If the main circuit breaker is in the flooded area, be cautious. If you’re unable to safely turn off the power, don’t.
Turn off the valve for the main water line of your home.
Notify your insurance company about the issue and be aware that water and sewer backup from an outside source is an optional coverage with its own sublimit.
Ventilate the area by opening windows and doors to let the fresh air in.
If your home is connected to a public sewer, make sure you contact your municipal authority or sewer department.
To help disinfect the standing water, add some chlorine bleach.
Evaluate the situation after cleanup has occurred. The wastewater backup could potentially lead to mold, so you may need to consider filing a mold damage insurance claim or a water damage insurance claim.
Nobody wants to have to deal with sewage problems, so making some preparations and taking some steps to help avoid a backed-up sewer line is extremely important in order to prevent a potentially huge disaster.
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