Tips to Try if Your Sewer Line Backs up During a Summer Storm in Indiana

In Central Indiana, the summer months can bring high heat and humidity as well as intense storms accompanied by a heavy rain shower. Unfortunately, all this water can lead to a real issue with home sewer lines, overburdening the sewer systems and creating clogs and backups for unlucky homeowners.

When there is a sewage backup oozing from your drains, first contact your plumber to request sewer repair services, and fast! This unpleasant side effect of summer storms poses a hazard to your family, plus it could damage household pipes and drains.

Learn why a backup is possible after storms, rain, and flooding, and how to spot the signs your sewer system is on the verge of backing up. Mr. Plumber shares tips to help you prevent sewer lines from experiencing backup and informs you what to do if this problem does occur.

What Does It Mean When a Sewer Pipe Backs Up?

Sewer line backup refers to a reversal in the direction sewage flows from homes to shared community sewer systems or private septic tanks.

When the components of a sewer and drain system function correctly:

  • Waste enters through a fixture drain in the home – toilets, bathroom sinks, dishwashers, etc.
  • Waste moves from the fixture drain through the drain line branch in that area of the home before reaching the connected main sewer line of the home.
  • Once within the main lines, waste flows away from the home to a septic tank on the property or community sewer system.

When backups occur, waste moves from downward in the sewer back up to the home. Depending on the severity of the blockage or cause of the backup, sewage can come out of drains throughout the home’s plumbing fixtures, from toilets to basement floor drains.

Are Sewer Backups Dangerous?

When a sewer line backs up, it is possible that areas of the home will be exposed to raw sewage and human waste. Exposure to this biohazard can be dangerous to a family or household. When sewage is present, particles may become airborne and vapors emanate from the waste. Gastroenteritis and respiratory symptoms much like asthma are often reported after exposure to sewage. A sewage backup can also bring harmful viruses and bacteria into the home which creates another exposure risk – these include hepatitis, coronavirus, Salmonella, and E. Coli.

Why Are Sewer Backups Common After Summer Storms?

Heavy rain from summer storms commonly causes flooding, so there is an excess of water runoff to eliminate. Runoff flows into the storm sewer and groundwater levels rise, which can impact sanitary sewer systems for human waste, too. Because the shared sewer system or private septic tank is so overwhelmed with water, there is no place for waste coming from the home to go – so it backs up into the home.

Summer storms also present a risk of backups due to another cause: fast-growing tree roots. Root systems can grow significantly when conditions are very wet, causing tree roots to spread. They are commonly attracted to buried sewer lines, as the waste moving through the pipes holds nutrients beneficial to the plant’s growth.

Once tree roots reach the location of a buried sewer line on a piece of property, the roots can bust right through the piping to access the waste and nutrients within. Once in the pipes, they continue to grow and fill up space until the roots eventually form a blockage and no waste can flow through.

What Are Signs of Sewer Pipe Clogs and Backup?

While backups due to stormy weather are in a category of their own, many sewer backups develop from clogs in sewer lines. If addressed early on, a plumber can treat the clog so it does not develop into a total blockage of the line.

Signs you have a sewer clog forming and are in the early stages before a backup include:

  • Toilets, Sinks, and Other Drains Across the Home Empty Slowly
  • When one drain is in use, another one backs up in the same bathroom or nearby area.
  • Drains Give Off a Bubbly Sound When You Flush a Toilet or Use a Drain
  • The odor of sewage is present indoors, which is close to rotten eggs or sulfur.
  • The lawn develops lush, fertile spots of green grass, typically situated over the sewer pipe or septic tank.

Steps to Take When Your Sewer Line Backs Up

Because a sewage backup is a true health risk, this plumbing issue should be addressed immediately once it is detected. Get your family out of the home and call your plumber to request emergency sewer repair service. If any clothing items come into contact with sewage in the home, remove them at once.

Do not use water or drains in the home until professional repair services are complete. Continuing to use water and add waste to drains can intensify the sewer problem. If water from flooding nears electrical outlets, shut off the home’s power. Also, turn off the gas supply to heating units, water heaters, and stoves.

Professional Service for a Sewer Backup

Your plumber will first work to find the source causing the backup as well as other contributing factors. While heavy rain and excess groundwater are acts of nature that cannot be controlled, there may be issues with your sewer line that are contributing to clogs or a backup. In other cases, a sewer backup can be unrelated to the weather altogether and there will be system repairs to be made.

A plumber is able to use camera inspection equipment to look deep into a home’s sewer pipes to spot a clog or defect in the lines. The camera tells your plumbing professional exactly where the clog or damage sits and what causes it. Different repair methods can be used, depending on the issue discovered.

  • Hydrojetting can be used to eliminate debris buildup along the inner pipe wall, causing restricted waste flow.

  • An auger may be used to reach down into the drain pipe and tear through tree roots or other materials forming clogs while removing it from the sewer line or breaking the clog up into smaller pieces that can easily flow into the sewer systems.

  • If there is damage to a section of piping due to shifting soil or penetration from tree roots, it may be possible to repair it by replacing a small portion of the pipe. Digging to access the location of the damaged pipe is an option, or trenchless pipe lining may be a possibility depending on the type and severity of damage.

  • To replace the entire home sewer line that is damaged due to deterioration or other factors, trenchless pipe bursting techniques can be used to install a new sewer line along the same path as the existing pipe. This process is completed without the need to dig up landscaping and disturb the property.

Cleaning up After a Sewage Backup

Because sewage exposure can be hazardous to family health, thorough cleaning must be performed after backups. 

Backups also cause damage to the home, which must be repaired.

  • When cleaning sewage in the home, wear a face mask, rubber boots, gloves, and other protective clothing. Remove clothing after you finish or if you come into contact with sewage.

  • Run a wet/dry vacuum to remove waste, both liquids and solids, as well as water.

  • Treat solid surfaces with disinfectant, following instructions for proper use to kill pathogens.

  • Cut out and remove all absorbent materials such as drywall, upholstery, carpet, and wood.

  • Ask your local waste management district about the proper methods for safe disposal of sewage-contaminated materials.

  • Keep windows and doors open to dry the area exposed to flooding and sewage. Dehumidifiers and fans can also be utilized.

  • If water or waste has seeped into walls, remove panels to access interior wall cavities. Remove and dispose of wet and/or contaminated insulation. Allow the wall’s interior to completely dry before restoring.

In the event of serious home or basement flooding or heavy sewage backup, many homeowners elect to contact a home remediation company. These specialists perform the cleanup steps above and more, working to thoroughly clean affected areas then restore the home through necessary repairs.

How to Prevent Backups in a Home’s Sewer Pipes

While backups caused by summer rain and weather are impossible to control, there are several factors within your control that can keep your sewer pipes in good condition to reduce the chance of backups. 

Follow these tips to prevent sewer lines from backing up and protect the home plumbing system.

  • Only flush human waste and toilet paper down toilets. Dispose of feminine hygiene products, diapers, and flushable wipes in a bathroom trash can.

  • Take care regarding what you put down your garbage disposal. Stick to smaller batches of waste for processing to prevent drain clogs.

  • Take caution when planting trees on the property. Plant in locations far enough away from underground pipes and sewer lines. Tree species with slow-growing root systems are preferred.

  • Address plumbing issues as soon as you notice the first indications of a problem. When you report these early signs during service, a plumbing pro is able to solve issues before they grow and develop into much more involved repair matters.

  • Plan ahead to replace aging sewer piping before it begins to deteriorate. A sewer line inspection can inform you of the pipe material, and the average lifespan of the type of sewer pipe can help you plan a rough timeline for the project.

  • Contact your plumber to install a backflow preventer on your home sewer piping. This component stops the reversal of waste flow through the lines to prevent backups.

Sewer Service in Indianapolis

When you experience a backup involving your home sewer pipes, turn to a trusted plumber who will quickly tend to your needs. Mr. Plumber’s team of licensed Indiana plumbers perform comprehensive sewer line repair and replacement services throughout the Greater Indianapolis area. Contact us today to request a service appointment.

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