Eww, Gross! Prevent Costly & Hazardous Sewer Backups

No one wants to think about sewage backups, but if sewage is entering your home, the sooner it’s fixed, the better off you’ll be. Water of any kind flooding into your home will cause damage, but sewage can be much worse, causing both structural problems and posing a health risk to you and your family.

Hartselle Utilities is often the first call a homeowner will make for a suspected sewage problem. If the problem happens on our portion of the lines, Hartselle Utilities is responsible for fixing the problem. However, if the problem happens between the connection point and your house, or inside your home, that’s the homeowner’s responsibility. (Fortunately, damage caused by sewage backups is generally covered by homeowners insurance.)

How do you know the difference between a clogged toilet and a sewer line problem? Sewage backups typically show first in the lowest drains in your home. Unless you have a half-bath in your basement or first floor with no other drains on that level, typically your ‘lowest drain’ is not going to be a toilet. So if you have a single toilet that’s backing up on the top floor of your house and the showers, bathtubs and laundry drains on lower levers are working just fine, your problem isn’t in your sewage drain.

On the flip side, if every time you flush, water or sewage backs up into a bathtub or shower, you most likely have a problem. If you suspect the problem is on Hartselle Utilities’ side of the system, call us as soon as possible. If the problem lies within your system, you may need to call a professional plumber.

Of course, preventing a clog or other problem is always cheaper than repairing one. Here are several things you can do to take care of the drains in your home:

Install and maintain a sewer clean-out.

Most modern homes have a sewer clean-out – a capped pipe located on or near your connection to Hartselle’s main sewer line; some homes have multiple clean-outs throughout the system. Having a sewer clean-out helps you keep lines clear, and drain water if a backup occurs.

Don’t use your toilet as a trash can.

Don’t flush facial tissues, napkins, feminine products or diapers down the toilet. Even ‘flushable’ wipes can cause problems in a sewer line; it’s much better to dispose of these in the trash.

Properly dispose of fats, oils and grease in the kitchen.

After it cools, pour cooking oil into a heat-resistant container and put it in the trash. Washing grease down the drain with hot water doesn’t work – once the grease cools, it becomes solid again.

Don’t overload your garbage disposal.

If you put large quantities of anything down your garbage disposal, it can become lodged in your sewer line.

Check your tree roots.

Tree roots can grow into sewer pipes, causing holes and blockages, or they can wrap around a line, crushing it.

Update your sewer pipes.

In older homes, sewer pipes were often built using cast iron and clay. Over time, these will break, crack and collapse, and are susceptible to damage from tree roots. Plastic pipes, which are now standard in new home building, are much less likely to become damaged.