What is it?

Sewer lines move wastewater away from homes and into the public sewage system. Sewer backup is when a blockage in sewage lines causes a backup into the home, which can be extremely problematic for homeowners. It can result in expensive damage and even health problems for the people living inside the affected home due to exposure to hazardous bacteria and parasites. Below are potential causes for this type of issue to help you avoid it in the first place.


A Clog

A clog in a specific toilet, sink, or tub is most commonly only a problem with that drain and an isolated issue, but if you are experiencing a backup in multiple areas, it is likely a larger problem. It could mean there’s something wrong in the main sewer line running through your street, which can affect your neighbors as well. If this seems to be the issue, report the issue to the city public works office so they can get to the bottom of it.

Tree Roots

Tree and shrub roots are very common causes for sewage backup. They can grow into your sewer line seeking moisture and causing cracks, breakage, and blockage. Gurgling noises from your toilet can be an indicator that tree roots have affected the pipeline. The problem may not even be coming from trees within your own property line. It’s possible for a tree in your neighbor’s yard or on public property to be the culprit. In this case, you will want the company servicing your sewage line to take a sample of the tree roots so that you can identify who is responsible for covering the damage.

Broken/Aging Sewer Lines

It’s possible that your sewage line is simply damaged or has reached the end of its rope. Most of America’s sewer lines were built using the old standard of cast iron and clay piping that is likely at least 30 years old. Newer systems are made using plastic sewage lines, which hold up much longer and are less likely to break down over time.

Combined Pipeline Problems

Some systems combine sewage and storm water into one pipeline. This can turn into a particularly strenuous situation for the system during heavy storms when more water and debris are added into the mix, thus creating a backup.

Signs of Trouble: Water in Basement

The evidence of sewer problems can often be found in the basement. Sometimes water will gather around the floor drain or you will notice water collecting on the ground or along the walls. These are all indicators of improper drainage around the home and often times sewer backup can be what is responsible. If you ignore it, this can grow into a much larger issue.

One of these issues is the growth and spread of mold. Mold thrives in dark and damp environments, making water damaged basements a breeding ground for mold spores. Mold growth itself can also create a whole host of problems including exposing your family to various potential health issues and possibly do permanent structural damage to your home.

Sewage Cleanup

If you think you have a backed up sewage pipe, the first step is to shut off the water at the source or to the main line. Next, you will want to relieve a little pressure by removing the cap of the sewer cleanout line typically located in homeowners’ yards. Since you shut off the water to your house before removing this cap, the built up water will flow out instead of into your home.

When treating a clogged drain, we don’t recommend using liquid drain cleaning options that you can find for cheap at local drugstores. These products are filled with extremely harsh chemicals that can actually damage your sewage pipes and rack up more costly repairs for you. If the problem is more advanced than an isolated clog, then it’s best for you to call in professionals to determine the issue and to perform the sewer repairs and cleanup.

If you live in the US and have a mold problem, sewer backup, or water damage, call (855) 425-5157 for free quotes from professionals in your area.


After going through the hassle of dealing with sewage backup in your home, you will want to avoid ever having to deal with it again. Of course, sometimes the situation is out your control, but here are some ways you can help prevent sewer backup in your home:

  • Smart toilet usage: Don’t flush anything except thin toilet paper down the toilet. Paper towels and female hygiene products should go in the trash.
  • Don’t throw everything down the kitchen sink: The garbage disposal is a handy tool, but there are some things you should avoid putting down the garbage disposal to keep it running smoothly for longer. First, you should avoid things like eggshells, coffee grounds, and orange peels that can cling to the inside of the drain for long periods of time. Second, grease is the enemy. It will collect and harden on the blades rendering them less effective as well as on the inside of the drain, increasing the chance of clogs. Third, avoid foods with fibers that can wrap around the blades and put strain on the motor like celery, cornhusks, potato peels, artichokes, lettuce, and skins of onions. Fourth, putting non-food items down the disposal is never a good idea. Before putting anything down the garbage disposal, turn on the cold water and run it until a little after you are done disposing of the food. The cold water helps prevent food from clinging to the insides of the drain.
  • Flush your sinks occasionally: Once or twice a month, plug your sinks and fill them to the top with cold water and then release the plug. This will flush your pipe with more force than usual and help move out any lingering waste.
  • Sharpen disposal blades: An easy way to do this is with ice cubes. Every once in a while, toss some ice cubes down the disposal and run it. This will sharpen the blades and help make them for effective for future use.


Sewer Insurance

Unfortunately, sewer system backups are not typically covered in the common homeowners insurance policy and must be purchased separately. In some cases, you can be reimbursed for hotel stays if you are forced to vacate the home for a period of time during repairs. When filing an insurance claim, make sure to take lots of photos, keep close track of property damage, and save all repair receipts.