How to Prevent Sewer Backup in your Home or Business

At one time or another you or someone you know will experience the (sometimes) horror and aggravation of a sewer backup.  You panic because of the sight of it all to begin with and then the worry about whether you can get things truly clean again!  Let’s first find out… 

What Causes Backups?

Wastewater can enter a home when the sanitary sewer backs up through either floor drains or a stool.  Causes can include blockages from grease, debris, tree roots, sewer line collapse, or as we’ve seen in recent years, infiltration of storm water in older sections of town.

Storm water sometimes overwhelm the sanitary sewers, taking them beyond capacity…and into your house it comes!  While you can’t control what the weather does, nor can you always have an influence on what your local city does or doesn’t do to maintain the sewers, you as the homeowner CAN make a difference by taking some common sense steps:

Prevention Tips

  • Do not pour cooking fat, grease or oil down the drain.  All restaurants and other commercial food preparers are required by law to install and maintain great interceptors to prevent FOG (fat, oil, grease) from plugging the sewer pipes.
  • Do not flush paper products EXCEPT for toilet paper.  To be exact, this includes:  paper towels, moist towelettes, handy wipes, disposable towels, diapers, napkins or feminine products.  Even if the product says it’s “flushable,” err on the side of caution.  Flush only toilet paper and properly dispose of the rest. 
  • Do not use the disposal to shred solid materials into finer pieces because this doesn’t liquefy them and items could get clogged in the sewage system.  Examples of solids would be onion peels, egg shells, small bones and watermelon rinds.  If you garden, try composting the vegetable matter – you won’t believe the difference in your production next year!
  • Fit your sink, tub and floor drains with baskets or strainers to catch any type of debris.  Inspect and clean regularly.
  • In the bathroom, pull out the pop-up stopper and clean regularly to avoid hair and other matter collecting. 
  • If you have trees, have the roots removed from your private sewer line periodically.

You may also want to consider a sewer back up rider from your insurance company.  It’s not very expensive and can save you SO much money if the unexpected happens!

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