While we love to spend out time talking about all of the beautiful and creative ways you can make your home more…homely…we also feel it’s prudent to talk about some of the uglier sides of home ownership. Or at least, some of the not-so-sexy things you can do to your home to make sure it remains beautiful…and in this blog post, safe. A safe home is something we usually take for granted. We just assume it’s safe because it keeps us warm and cozy. But the reality is things can go wrong, and with certain things, a problem can put your family’s health at risk. And that’s certainly true when you talk about a sewer backup. In this blog post, we’ll discuss that issue, and also talk through some mitigation steps you can take to make sure you never have to deal with such a nasty situation.
What is a sewage backup?
Homes can suffer sewage damage in a number of ways. Most commonly, we refer to these events as sewer backups, but in reality they can take a few different forms. Here are the most common ways homes get damaged by raw sewage:
- a ‘traditional’ sewage backup – perhaps the most common type of sewage loss seen here in Charlotte, this happens when a clog occurs in your sewer line. When a blog occurs, the water can’t get down the drain and reach the main sewer line. Instead, it hits the blockage and then starts going the only direction it can go: back up and into your home.
- a sewer line overflow – when a home’s sewer line is tied into a combined sewer system (meaning the city’s main line is responsible for carrying both rain water and sewage water), heavy rains can often overwhelm the main line and cause water to come back up your home’s line and overflow into your home. This is a particularly nasty type of sewage backup because it can cause a lot of raw sewage waste and water to come into your home very quickly.
- a sewer line break – for homes with a crawlspace, many times the home’s sewer lines will be housed in the crawlspace. It’s not unusual to see instances where a crack in the pipe or a loss connection in the pipe fitting result in a sewage spill in the crawlspace. The homeowner is completely oblivious to the problem until they start to smell it. Yuck!
How to lessen the chances of sewage damage
With the average cost of cleaning up sewage running in the thousands of dollars, and most sewage backups not falling under insurance coverage, you’d be wise to take these steps to make sure the chances of you ever dealing with a sewer backup are greatly reduced. Here are some things you should do immediately!
- Stop putting things down your drains and toilets that your plumbing system isn’t designed to handle. Most notably, there are a couple of things you can stop doing:
- pouring cooking grease down the drain – this is a HUGE problem that many people do. If you pour grease down your drain while running hot water, realize you’re creating a huge problem. That grease is going to congeal once it hits the cold part of your pipe in the ground. Do it enough, and it’s going to create a complete block in your sewer line.
- flushing fibrous materials down the toilet – if you put things like baby wipes or feminine products down the toilet, you’re creating a recipe for disaster.
On top of making changes to your daily habits, you can also spend a little bit of money to stop a sewage backup. By installing a valve known as a backflow preventer, you can make sure that any water that is coming back up your sewer pipe is stopped before it gets into your home and causes a lot of damage. Below is a great video showing this device in action along with some tips for properly maintaining it.