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What to Do in Cincinnati, OH When Your Sewer Line Backs up After Summer Storms

The summer months often bring storms and heavy rain to the Cincinnati area. Flooding dumps an excess of water in the shared sewer lines, which may lead to backups in home’s main sewer pipes and drains.

When sewage backup comes through home toilets, a shower, or other bathroom or household drain, this is a plumbing issue that poses a potential danger to your family. Learn the signs that indicate clogs in drain pipes and the beginnings of a backup, what to do when you experience backup in your sewer lines, and tips to prevent backups in your sewer drains, pipes, and lines.

If you notice signs of sewage in your household, you need an emergency plumber to complete repair services right away. Call Thomas & Galbraith for fast and professional service that protects your plumbing and drain systems from future damage.

What Happens When a Sewer Pipe Backs Up?

When working correctly, the drain system in your home carries waste and wastewater out every time you flush toilets, take a shower, use a washing machine, or perform other activities with water. Waste and wastewater flow down the drain, through the drain line branches installed across the household to the main sewer line on the property, which connects to the municipal sewer lines or private septic tank.

A sewer line backup occurs when waste and wastewater reverse their flow – they literally come back up through the drains. Too much water in the shared sewer systems or a blockage in your main line can prevent waste from properly exiting the home. Waste cannot move past the blocked point in the line, so it moves backward from the home’s main sewer line, through the drain pipe branches, then out drains in your shower, toilets, or even basement floor drains.

When a backup happens, what comes up from your drains is either excess rainwater that has collected in storm drains – this is usually the case if you have floor drains in a basement or garage that are connected to the storm sewer, which carries water only. Inside the home, it is sewage backup that comes up through the drains. This is sewage, which contains human waste.

Sewage backups are a danger to the family. Sewage releases airborne particles and fumes that can carry harmful contaminants. This biohazard material can cause illness when a person is exposed to particles or breathes in sewage vapors. Respiratory symptoms similar to asthma and gastroenteritis are common, but sewage can carry bacteria and viruses that cause a range of illnesses, including Salmonella, E. coli, hepatitis, and coronavirus.

Why Do Sewer Lines Suffer Backups After Storms?

Sewer backups are a common plumbing problem that occurs over the summer months. Summer storms bring heavy rain to the area, which overwhelms storm sewers (water runoff from rain) as well as sanitary sewers (the ones that handle human waste). Debris may also be washed into the sewer lines, which can lead to clogs. Overall, rising groundwater can be too much for sewer systems to efficiently transport, which can lead to backups in private main sewer lines that connect homes to the shared sewer systems.

Growing tree roots pose a danger to your sewer line after storms, too. With more rain, tree roots may grow quite quickly over the summer months, expanding to a sewer line buried nearby on the property. The tree roots pierce the pipes as they search for nutrients found in sewage. Within the system, the roots continue to grow, not only causing broken piping but blocked pipes as well. If the drain is clogged, backup can occur because waste is unable to flow out of the home to the public sewer systems.

Signs of Sewer Clogs and Backups

Clogs as well as conditions that lead to sewer backups typically show signs around the home. If you notice any of these signs, your sewer line is in need of repair services.

  • The shower, toilets, sinks, or another type of drain connected to the plumbing system does not drain as fast as usual, and it may take quite a while to drain wastewater.
  • When you flush a toilet or run a sink faucet, drains elsewhere in your bathroom or home experience a backup of water and/or waste.
  • You hear bubbling from a shower or sink when you flush toilets.
  • You notice the odor of sewage indoors, which can smell like sulfur or rotten eggs.
  • Lush spots develop on the lawn where grass is greener and thicker, which typically occurs right above the septic tank or damaged lines.

What to Do When a Sewer Drain Pipe Backs Up

When sewage backs up through drains in your bathroom or elsewhere inside the house, you need to contact your plumber for emergency services to repair sewer systems. Your family should leave the home to avoid exposure to sewage. If any clothing made contact with sewage waste, remove it immediately.

If a backup is present, it’s important that you do not use any more water in the home until plumbing system repairs are complete. Do not flush toilets, wash hands in sinks, do a load of laundry, or take showers. If flooding reaches near electrical outlets, shut off your home’s electrical power.

Sewer Service from a Plumber After Storms and Backup

Your plumber will arrive quickly to perform urgent plumbing services to solve the cause of sewer backup when possible. When summer storms and rain cause backups, nothing can be done to prevent this act of nature from messing with home sewer systems. It is possible that the poor condition of an older main sewer line, a clog, or other damage contributed to the backup you experienced – in which case, repairs can be made to prevent future issues from summer rains or otherwise.

A backup often originates due to a blockage, whether that be a clogged or damaged section of the line. The plumber uses video equipment to see within the line and find out where it is clogged as well as what is clogging it or locate the area and source of damage. If clogs are found, professional techniques are used to clear the drain line depending on the source of the clog, be it tree roots that have penetrated the piping or an accumulation of matter flushed down the line. Hydro jetting can clear out materials that have accumulated on interior pipe walls. An auger can be used to break through a clog and remove it from the line.

When your plumber identifies damage to the sewer piping, repairs or replacement will be needed to restore proper flow through the home’s plumbing drainage system. Pipes can break or sustain damage due to growing tree roots, deterioration from old age, shifting soil, and other reasons. If only a section of the line needs to be repaired or replaced, the damaged part may be dug up and tended to. When an entire sewer line needs to be replaced, trenchless pipe bursting methods are often recommended, which install a new line through the existing one without disturbing the yards and landscaping homeowner's treasure.

Cleaning up Following a Backup

Sewage contaminates areas of the home, which must be sanitized, and sewage completely removed for safety and health reasons. When performing cleanup, be sure to wear a face mask and rubber boots or rubber-soled shoes, and remove all footwear and clothing once you finish.

  • Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up solids as well as water.
  • Treat solid surfaces with disinfectants.
  • Remove and dispose of any materials that could have absorbed sewage, including carpeting, drywall, woodwork, upholstery, and other finishings.
  • Contact your local waste management department to learn the proper way to dispose of removed sewage and biohazard-exposed material.
  • Keep windows and doors open, use fans, and even run a dehumidifier to rid the affected areas of moisture and prevent mold development.
  • Remove wall panels if flooding and backup sewage could have soaked through to the inner wall cavities. Allow these areas to thoroughly dry out before recovering or else you risk mold growth in the future.
  • When flooding or sewage backups are severe, you may wish to hire a residential remediation company to tackle the removal of sewage and damaged materials as well as make repairs.

Prevent Future Sewer Backups

Sewer backups are one plumbing disaster that Cincinnati homeowners never want to experience. While strong storms and flooding in the summer cannot be avoided, these tips will help you keep your sewer systems in good shape to prevent backup that occurs due to other issues.

  • Only flush toilet paper and human waste down your toilets. Throw diapers, feminine hygiene products, and even so-called “flushable” wipes in the bathroom trashcan, not down toilets.
  • Limit the amount of food waste you dispose of with your garbage disposal to prevent waste accumulation in the lines that could cause a clog.
  • Before you landscape your yard, mark the position of buried lines and plant trees a safe distance away. Consider species that are known for slow-growing root systems to lessen the chances of a sewer clog caused by wandering tree roots.
  • Install a new sewer line before issues begin. Old pipes develop corrosion and other forms of damage which weaken the pipe and make it more prone to breaking.
  • When you first see clues like slow drainage or other indicators that the sewer system is beginning to back up, call your plumber for drain cleaning or repair service. Be proactive and correct the problem while it’s still small to avoid extensive system damage.
  • Ask your plumber to install a backflow preventer on your sewer pipes. This part stops water from flowing in reverse through the main drainpipe back into the home.

Cincinnati Sewer Repair Service

If you have a backed-up sewer line following a storm this summer or suspect your sewer line is blocked by a clog or other damage, address these issues with professional plumbing services right away. Thomas & Galbraith’s team of licensed Ohio plumbers is available around the clock to perform emergency services when you face a plumbing crisis at home. Whether you need us to clean your drains or install a new section of sewer line, trust our staff to deliver the high-quality service you require. Call us today to request a service appointment or an urgent service visit.

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