Sewage Backups: Causes and Solutions

Sewage Backups Causes and Solutions

Topping the list of, “most disgusting home issues”, a dreaded sewage backup is a disaster everyone hopes to never have to deal with. Professional disaster restoration crew have first-hand experience with the unpleasant consequences associated with sewage backups and hope to protect your home (and your sanity) with this helpful guide outlining the causes and steps you can take to prevent and overcome the mess. 

What Causes Sewage Backups? 

From your sinks to the city’s sewer lines, any clog or damage to the system can result in a sewage backup. Everything from a toy lodged within the toilet to exterior factors like natural growth and construction work can all interrupt the normal flow and performance of your sewage system. Other common causes of sewage back-ups include: 

  • Overfilled or Blocked Septic Systems
  • Corroded, Frozen, or Damaged Pipes
  • Erosion, Root Blockages, & Animal Damage
  • Insufficient City Sewer Capacity; Too Many Residents Using the Same System
  • Improper Plumbing Installations & In-Home Clogs 

Diagnosing the Cause of Your Sewage Backup

There are many possible reasons behind a potential backflow. Before dumping drain cleaner down the sink or calling a plumber, there are a few ways you can begin to investigate the issue on your own. In general, most sewage backups will be systemic (all of your drains are affected at the same time), or the blockage can be traced to a single drain in the home.

  • If all of your drains are affected simultaneously, it is likely a main sewer line issue. In other words, the primary wastewater line leaving your home is either damaged or blocked. 
  • If a single drain or toilet is experiencing backflow, it is likely an isolated blockage or plumbing issue.

If you’re dealing with a systemic sewage problem, this can be a trickier situation to investigate. Since these main lines are not accessible without professional assistance, the first step is to turn off the water to your house. To do this, find your main water line (usually a pipe coming out of the foundation) and turn the valve located above the water meter clockwise. 

Systemic Sewage Backup Solutions

If your sewage problem was systemic and you’ve already turned off the water, the next step is to locate your “sewage cleanout line” outside. Look for a circular white pipe about 3-4 inches wide with a pressure release cap at the top. Unscrew the cap to release the pressure, and any backed-up water within your home should begin to drain. 

Now that you’ve stopped the free-flowing sewage, it’s time to address the source of the problem. Depending on the source of the blockage, here are common methods used to resolve the majority of sewer line issues: 

  • Root Blockages: Use chemical drain cleaners specifically made to kill roots and break down other debris that may be lodged within the system. 
  • Unknown Blockages: A scoped instrument is used to inspect the source of the blockage. After determining that it isn’t a broken pipe, a water jet or rotating auger is inserted deep into the plumbing to break up and power through the blockage. 
  • City Sewer Blockages: If the problem extends beyond your house, your city’s maintenance crews will resolve the issues. Hopefully sooner rather than later. 

In-Home Solutions for Small or Medium Clogs 

If it’s a smaller sewage backup in a bathroom or the kitchen, many clogs can be resolved with a little elbow grease or over-the-counter chemical solutions, like: 

  • A Plunger
  • A Drain Snake
  • Chemical Drain Cleaners (Do Not Use on Toilets)


If these simple home solutions are ineffective, it may be time to get in touch with professionals for water damage cleanup in Philadelphia. A sewage backup is filled with nasty stuff, and even a minor amount of flooding caused by clogged systems can lead to long-term property damage and unsafe living conditions. You will need someone to professionally dry both your superficial and deeper structures and verify that the source of the problematic water has been securely contained.

Seek Restoration Services As Soon as Possible

Our Philadelphia disaster restoration pros are focused on long-term property preservation and restorations that result in healthier homes. Cleaning up a sewage disaster is not only a dirty process, but if performed incorrectly, issues with mold and future structural issues are likely to emerge. However minor or major your sewage issue is, Restoration 360 treats every call with urgency and delivers a range of solutions to resolve and restore your property to its like-new condition. 

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