Water contaminated with sewage backup should be considered an emergency situation and dealt with as quickly as possible. The water may contain viruses, bacteria, and other microbes that cause serious illnesses.
Causes of Sewer Backup
- Aging Sewer Systems (Broken or Collapsed Sewer Lines)
Although plastic sewer lines have now become the norm, older homes were built using cast iron and clay piping that can break down over time and create sewer problems. The Civil Engineering Research Foundation reports that the number of backed up sewers is increasing at an alarming rate of about 3 percent annually. In addition, a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers indicates that the nation’s 500,000-plus miles of sewer lines are on average over thirty years old.
- Combined Pipelines
Problems also arise in systems that combine storm water and raw sewage into the same pipeline. During many rain storms, the systems are exposed to more volume than they can handle, and the result is a sewage backup situation that allows sewage to spew out into basements and low lying drains.
- Tree Roots
Another common cause of home sewer backups is tree roots. Tree roots can cause a couple of problems for your sewer lines – they can grow into the pipes and cause holes and blockages or they may wrap around your sewer line and crush it. Even if the area directly above your sewer line is free of trees, roots from a neighboring yard could be the cause of your sewer problem.
- Sanitary Main
A blockage can occur in a city sanitary main. If the blockage is not detected in time, sewage from the main can back up into homes and businesses through floor drains. Usually this happens slowly, giving the owner time to call a licensed plumber to assess the damage.
- Water in Basement
Most basement flooding is not related to the sanitary sewer system. In many cases, soil settles adjacent to the building and, if not corrected, leads to rainwater flowing towards the building and down the outside of the foundation wall. This is particularly true in older buildings, where cracks may have developed in the foundation or floor slab that allow water to enter the basement. This will usually happen after a number of rain storms, when the ground is saturated. Drainage can be improved by making sure that water drains away from the building. Owners may also be able to prevent flooding by water sealing the basement.
- A Clog
Just like your drain pipes, your main sewer line can become clogged, which can cause sewage backups in your home. If it is just one toilet, sink or tub that seems to be giving you a problem, it may just be a clog in that drain. If, however, every flush creates a sewage backup in your home, you likely have a blockage in your main sewer line.
Most sewer clogs can be prevented with regular maintenance and proper use of your drains. Here are a few tips that will help keep your sewer line clear:
- Don’t use your toilet as a waste basket – Flushing facial tissues, napkins, diapers and other waste down your toilet creates clogs.
- Use your garbage disposal intelligently – Avoid dumping large quantities of anything down your garbage disposal that can become lodged within your sewer line.
- Don’t pour grease down your drain – Grease and fat, although liquid when poured down your drain, can harden within your plumbing, collecting debris and creating a stubborn clog.
Types of Contaminated Water
Water damage can be classified by the three types of contaminated water. Helpers will inspect your home or business to determine the appropriate plan of action for the type of water encountered.
Category 1: “Clean Water”
“Clean Water” is from a clean source like a broken water supply line or leaking faucet. If not treated quickly, this water can turn into category 2 or 3, depending on length of time, temperature, and contact with surrounding contaminants.
Category 2: “Gray Water”
“Gray Water” is contaminated and could cause discomfort or illness. Examples include washing machine overflow; toilet overflow with some urine, but no feces; or dishwasher overflow.
Category 3: “Black Water”
“Black Water” is grossly contaminated and could cause severe illness or death if ingested and any contact should be avoided. Examples include flooding from rivers or streams, water from beyond the toilet trap, water from the toilet bowl with feces, or standing water that has begun to support microbial growth.
If you are suffering from water damage caused by sewage or drain backup in the Basalt, Aspen, and Glenwood Springs area, don’t wait. Call in the professionals.