Whether it is the kitchen sink, the toilet, or the basement drain backing up, the pungent odor of the blocked water lines is not something you soon forget. This plumbing issue might affect every house owner at some point. And more than affecting our noses, sewer back up can actually lead to contamination and even mold growth. The key to avoiding it is simple: periodic maintenance and taking care of plumbing problems before they get worse.

What are the main causes of a sewage backup?

Sewers can back up for a variety of reasons. Occasionally we put the wrong thing down the pipes. But often the cause is not a human error but rather wear and tear on the system. 

The leading causes of blockage include:


  1. Oil, grease, or fat build-up in the pipes. It is best to avoid pouring these things down the kitchen sink. They should be put in containers and placed out in the garbage.
  2. Flushing products that are not septic-safe, such as moist wipes, paper towels, or feminine hygiene products.
  3. Older sewer lines see decay from use over the years.
  4. Tree roots growing around or into pipes.
  5. Severe rainstorms, which can cause a backup in the city's sewage system. This further causes blockades and other types of water damage.

Early signs of sewer backup

There are subtle keys to alert you of clogging and backup problems. Some of those include:

Gurgling sounds coming from a drain

When a sewer drain pipe is clogging, air bubbles develop. Those bubbles create gurgling sounds from a drain. That bubbling can also be seen in the toilet when you flush.

Unusual odors coming from the sinks, showers, or drains

It is fairly common for odors to come from the kitchen sink. It is not normal to experience odors from the bathroom sink, shower, tub, or the laundry drain. An odor in one or more of these spots is a sign there is a problem in the sewage system itself.

One or more drains moving slower than usual

A drain that cannot keep up with sewage moves more slowly. This, in turn, causes an increase in blockage.

Water backup into the shower or tub

Simply said, water will not back up in the tub or shower unless there is blockage down the line.

Sewage blockage can lead to severe health concerns for your family

The backup of sewer lines can cause water damage to your home. That backup also lets off physical contaminants and airborne ones that can be hazardous to your health. Coming in physical contact with or breathing raw sewage can cause gastroenteritis along with a whole herd of other diseases. According to the Indiana Department of Health, some of these diseases include:

  • Gastroenteritis — a virus often referred to as the stomach flu. It can cause diarrhea, headaches, fever, cramping, and vomiting. Symptoms can be harder on children and infants, as well as the elderly and immunocompromised individuals.
  • Hepatitis A — a virus that causes fatigue and abdominal pain. It can lead to jaundice and a loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and fever.
  • Salmonellosis — caused by bacteria, Salmonella typhimurium and Salmonella enteritidis symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and cramping. The effects can be worse for infants, young children, and the elderly or immunocompromised individuals.

Any symptoms should be taken seriously. You should seek out medical care. Anyone sick with any of these issues must drink lots of water to avoid becoming dehydrated which could lead to further problems.

The cost of unclogging a sewer line


Catching any sewage backup early is key to maintaining the integrity of your home's plumbing system. Ignoring an issue will only lead to it worsening and costing more money in the long run.

Most often our experts can run a line through the pipe to clear out the problem. Sometimes the problem requires more work than that though. If tree roots are the cause, a hole will need to be dug and the roots cut off to eliminate the problem. That may also require replacement of some of the pipeline. And the repairs will cost more.

Many insurance policies will assist with plumbing issues such as sewer backups and pipe repairs or replacement. So do home warranty plans. Be sure to understand your possibilities before repairs are done.

You should also be aware that you may not be responsible for repairs on pipes located off your property. Chances are those repairs are the city's responsibility. If you believe this is the case, contact your city's utility department.

Routine checkups

Having routine checkups can catch a problem at its very beginnings. This will save headaches, and more expense, later on. A good rule of thumb is to have your sewer lines checked, and cleaned out, every 18-20 months. This is not only important for your home’s plumbing system. It can help prevent water damage and avoid health hazards for you, your family, your pets, and your property.

The experts at AdvantaClean are trained and experienced in keeping homes safe and eliminating problems before they can even happen. If you have plumbing concerns, give us a call. We would be happy to come out and assist you to make sure your home keeps being a safe haven.

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