Here's What to Do if Your Sewer Line Backs up in Louisville, KY

The summer months bring storms and rain to the Louisville area, which may cause flooding and problems with your home sewer line. Local sewer lines can’t always handle large volumes of water, which may lead to a backup affecting your drains, toilets, and even your shower!

When sewer backups bring sewage into your home, your family is exposed to dangerous biohazard waste. Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing shares more information about storms and system backups, signs your lines are in trouble, how to handle the situation when your drains do back up, and tips to prevent the issue from recurring.

When you have a backup of your sewer line over the summer, this is an emergency plumbing situation. Call Jarboe’s, your trusted Louisville plumber, for fast and reliable sewer repair and replacement services once you notice the symptoms of a potential sewer line problem.

What Does Sewer Line Backup Mean?

Drains throughout your home carry waste and used water outdoors and away for treatment or disposal. When you flush toilets, take a shower, do the washing – waste and wastewater flows down the drain, through the drain branch line of the bathroom or other home area, into the home’s main sewer pipe, and then out to the shared community sewer systems or private septic systems.

A sewer line backs up when the direction of waste flows backward. Instead of flowing to the community sewer from your home, it flows from the community sewer or main home sewer pipe back up into your home through fixture drains such as your shower or toilet or even a basement floor drain.

A backup can affect the storm sewer, sanitary sewer, or both. If you have floor drains in the basement or garage that are connected to the storm sewer that collects rain runoff and these are the drains that experience the backup, the liquid is most likely just water from excess rain. However, if your home has shared sewer systems for removing excess water and human waste, it is possible for sewage to come up through a basement drain. Backups that affect toilets or a shower can cause sewage to seep up through these drains.

If sewage comes up through any drain in your home, this is a serious health hazard. Your family can become ill if they are exposed to sewage, as it gives off airborne particles and vapors that contain bacteria, viruses, and other harmful agents. Breathing fumes from sewage in the home commonly leads to gastroenteritis or respiratory symptoms similar to asthma. Infections can occur due to exposure to E. coli, Salmonella, coronavirus, or even hepatitis.

Why Do Sewers Back up After Summer Storms and Rain?

When we have heavy rainfall, the shared lines of municipal sewer systems cannot always handle transporting a much larger volume of water. The rain causes groundwater levels to rise, which can create backup issues in the private sewer lines that connect homes to the community waste removal system. This is a typical summer plumbing problem.

Excess rain causes sewer line issues in another way, too: tree roots. Tree roots can experience rapid growth during the summer months thanks to the rain. As they grow underground, they often extend toward buried pipes on the property. The waste inside the pipes holds desirable nutrients for the plant and eventually the roots can reach the line and break it to create an entrance. Once inside a pipe, tree roots continue to grow, restricting the space available for waste to flow which will eventually cause a clog. When a clog sits in the pipes, it blocks waste from moving to the community sewer for disposal or treatment, thus it will back up into your home.

Signs Your Sewer Lines Have Clogs

A clog in the home sewer line often creates signs prior to a backup of sewage. Watch for these signs and call for plumbing services when you notice one, as taking care of clogs and sewer pipe damage early on will help you avoid backups, due to storms or other causes.

  • Your shower, toilets, sinks, appliances, and other fixtures drain slowly.
  • When you flush a toilet, a nearby drain backs up with water or waste material.
  • Bubbling sounds come from nearby drains when you flush toilets.
  • There is an odor of sewage in the home, which may smell like sulfur or rotten eggs.
  • Lush patches of vibrant green grass pop up on the property over the sewer line or septic tank.

When a Sewer Backup Occurs, Take These Steps

Because sewage backup is dangerous to the family, this issue needs to be addressed immediately. Call your plumber and request emergency sewer service to diagnose and correct the plumbing issue.

Have your family leave the home if possible to avoid the possibility of exposure to sewage. If any articles of clothing or shoes made contact with sewage in the home, take them off right away.

Prevent further damage to your home’s sewer system and stop using water until the pipes are fixed. If you flush more water or waste down through the home’s sewer system, you could worsen the backup or any damage that’s present in the lines. If water is flooding throughout your home, turn off electricity at the main electrical panel to prevent accidental electrocution. If there is a natural gas supply on in the home fueling space heating equipment or a water heater, turn off the gas as well.

Professional Services for Sewer Lines

When your plumber performs urgent plumbing and sewer repairs after a backup, his or her first priority is to determine what caused the backup. If storms and rain are to blame, there isn’t much that can be done to prevent similar backups from repeating in the future. It is possible that issues concerning your sewer system could increase the likelihood of a sewage backup, in which case these problems can be diagnosed and corrected now.

If the home sewer lines are clogged due to damage or debris stuck in the line, your plumber will insert a specialized camera down into the home’s drain lines to pinpoint where the clog sits and what it is made of. Depending on if clogs are caused by tree roots, waste, or damage, appropriate repair methods will be recommended. Hydrojetting is a process used to remove buildup from the interior walls of drain pipes. An auger can reach deep into pipes and break through a clog so that it can be pulled out or flushed through to the shared waste removal pipes.

When broken pipes are discovered, repairs or replacement must be performed. For minor issues affecting only a small portion of the buried line, it may be appropriate to dig down to the area and perform necessary repairs or replace a small section of piping. If the sewer lines have sustained heavy damage or have degraded, it’s wise to install new piping. A plumber can install entire lengths of buried sewer line without causing disruption to landscaping on the property. Trenchless bursting techniques allow your plumber to install a new pipeline right inside the existing one. No digging is needed to remove the old piping or install the new one, which many Louisville homeowners appreciate.

Sewer Backup Cleanup

Once your plumbing pro clears blocked pipelines and corrects found issues within the drainage system, it is necessary to clean up the mess left behind by the sewage backup. If you tackle this project yourself, use these tips to do a safe and complete job.

  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose as well as rubber boots or rubber-soled shoes.

  • Run a wet/dry vacuum to extract solid and liquid waste matter from the area.

  • Treat all solid surfaces with disinfectant spray, following product directions to ensure pathogens are destroyed.

  • Tear out absorbent materials like wood, upholstery, carpet, and drywall that has come into contact with waste.

  • Contact your local waste management office to find out how you should correctly dispose of these contaminated materials.

  • Windows and doors should remain open to dry out the area. You can also run fans and use a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture after a backup caused by summer storms or a clogged pipeline.

  • If flooding occurred, it is likely that water has seeped through wall coverings into insulation and the inner wall cavity. Remove the wall covering or paneling to open up the cavity, rip out wet and contaminated insulation, and allow the area to completely dry before recovering the wall with new finishing material.

In cases of significant flooding or heavy sewage contamination, homeowners often prefer to hire a remediation contractor to handle cleanup after a sewer line backup due to a clogged pipe or summer rainfall. An experienced professional is able to safely and completely remove waste, water, and damaged materials, dry the area completely to prevent future mold growth, and perform repair services to restore your household living areas.

Tips to Prevent Sewer Line Backups

Backups due to rainy weather and thunderstorms over the summer months are unavoidable, but other causes of a sewer blockage and backup can be prevented. Follow these suggestions to keep your plumbing sewer lines in good condition so they are less likely to become clogged or damaged.

  • Human waste and toilet tissue are the only things that should be disposed of through the toilet. Use a bathroom trash can to throw out diapers, feminine hygiene products, and even wipes that claim to be flushable.

  • Keep as much debris out of your sewer line as possible when you watch what you put down the garbage disposal. Only dispose of small batches at a time and make sure to follow best practices for how to operate this appliance and what kind of materials it can handle.

  • As you plan landscaping improvements, be careful if you want to add trees. Locate buried plumbing sewers and plant trees a safe distance away. Avoid future issues with penetrating tree roots when you select tree species known for slow-growing root systems.

  • Install a new main sewer pipe before problems begin. Have your pipes inspected to determine what material your lines are made of, and establish their expected lifespan so you’ll know when replacement should occur.

  • Contact your plumber for sewer or drain service when you notice even small signs of poor drainage or an impending backup. If piping is clogged, minor blockages can be easily and quickly removed early on to stop the issue from worsening as time passes, leading to a backup.

  • Request that your plumber install a backflow preventer on your home sewer system. This plumbing component regulates waste flow direction and prevents waste from moving backward in the sewer line.

Louisville Sewer Repair and Replacement Service

Sewer backups during the summer months are sometimes unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean a sewage backup is inevitable in your home! Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing helps Louisville area homeowners correct plumbing and sewer line issues to maintain the integrity of their underground pipes. With professional services, your sewer components remain in top shape so they are less likely to back up due to clogs or damage. Contact us today to request an appointment for repair services or call us for immediate emergency plumbing help in the event of a sewer backup.

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