It’s not something you want to think about, but if you’re a homeowner it’s definitely something you need to be prepared for. We’re talking about sewage backup. And it happens more often than you might think, thanks to all sorts of culprits including clogs, cracks in the foundation of your home, and from tree root infiltration.
Sewage backup is never a DIY job. But, then, who would want it to be? Once you recognize one of the common signs of a sewage back up below, it’s time to call the plumber. Sure, it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it – and by someone we mean a professional plumber.
Six signs you have a sewage backup in your home
You can smell it. If you notice any foul smell, especially near or from your drains, you may have a sewage back up. This is usually the first indication of the problem, and it happens when the waste – which should be draining away from your home – gets clogged in the drain.
Slow drains throughout the house. Often, when you have a sewage backup, more than one drain will work very slowly. It starts in the lowest levels of your home when the sewer line gets clogged. Then, as the clog persists and the block gets worse, it will affect drains on other floors of the home, too. So, as soon as you observe a slow drain in the basement – and especially if it’s accompanied by an odor – call the plumber.
Your toilet or drain bubbles. Your drains have to eliminate wastewater, but when there’s a backup, you’ll likely see air bubbles in your drains or in the toilet. That’s because the water is becoming stagnant, and isn’t flowing out from the drains.
Backups in different drains. Sometimes when you’ve got sewage backup in one drain, it will affect another. For example, you may experience sewage backup in the shower after you flush your toilet. That would be happening because there’s a backup in the toilet line somewhere. When this happens, a plumber should investigate every drain, to make sure they thoroughly treat the problem.
Cleanout pipe problems. Your cleanout pipe is absolutely essential to flushing wastewater from your home. Located in your basement or outside of the house, the cleanout pipe connects with the sewer line. If you see any sewage in your yard – or in the basement – you could have a sewage backup. Additionally, if you see any standing water in your cleanout pipe, you may have a backup.
Many drains are clogged at once. As soon as you detect a clog in one drain, it’s a good idea to check the others. A telltale sign of sewage backup are multiple drains clogging at the same time.
Causes of sewage backup
How your sewage problem gets fixed really depends on what caused it in the first place. The most common culprit is a clogged pipe. Kitchen grease, soap scum, and even toilet paper can lead to clogs that can ultimately affect the sewage line. Additionally, older pipes can collapse, which can cause a sewage backup.
It’s important to note that even without trees near your home, tree roots from nearby can grow underneath your property and infiltrate the sewer line. When that happens, your plumber will need to cut the pipes away from the drain, which will probably have to be replaced or repaired.
Sewage backups stink (sorry, we couldn’t resist). If you think you’ve got one in your home, contact a plumber immediately.
Before you decide to use PVC, ABS, or copper pipes in your home or business, it’s important to know more about each and what sets them apart. One type may work for one project, while another will be best for another. You’ll also want to check your local government’s building code regulations. Some do not allow PVC pipes, while others forbid ABS pipes to be installed.
Copper carries a separate list of things to consider. While copper pipes fit easier into small spaces and are more attractive than PVC or ABS pipes when exposed, they’re also more expensive.
What’s the difference between PVC and ABS?
ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and PVA stands for Poly Vinyl Chloride. The difference between the two are fairly minor. The biggest difference is that ABS contains BPA while PVC does not. This alone is enough to give homeowners ABS pipes the red flag as BPA has been linked to serious health conditions including cancer.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of PVS, ABS and copper pipes below.
Pros and Cons: PVC pipes
- More flexible than ABS and copper pipes
- Quieter when in use than ABS and copper pipes. PVC pipes do a good job at muffling the sound of running water
- Strong, lightweight and durable
- Requires a two-step process to connect
- PVC pipe ends must be treated with a primer before applying cement
- Over time, PVC joints can break and leak
Pros and Cons: ABS pipes
- More shock-resistant than PVC
- Will hold up in below-zero temperatures better than PVC
- Can be bonded instantly using a special cement and with a one-step process
- Contains BPA
- Less heat-resistant. Can warp when exposed to extreme heat and constant direct sunlight
- More expensive than PVC pipe
Pros and Cons: Copper pipes
- Longer lasting than PVC and ABS pipes
- Easier to fit into small spaces and thinner walls
- Cleaner than PVC and ABS pipes. Some homeowners choose copper pipes because of concerns that ABS and PVC pipes are potentially harmful to your health
- More flexible at the joints, so less likely to leak and break
- More attractive than plastic pipes
- More expensive than PVC and ABS pipes
- Potential for corrosion, especially if exposed to acidic water
- Noisier than PVC and ABS pipes
- More difficult to install and may require a professional because they need to be soldered
Bottom line: Whether PVC, ABS, or copper – the choice really depends on what works best for your home and budget (and your city building codes). There are strong pros and cons for all types. If you’re still not sure, contact your plumber. We can help you decide what pipes are best for your needs.