Prevent sewer backups

Asewer backup is when a waste line becomes blocked and wastewater backs up into your home. The United States

  • According to the Association of California Water Agencies, more than 500,000 sewer backups occur each year.
  • According to the Civil Engineering Research Foundation, sewer backups are growing at an average rate 3% per year.
  • EPA estimates that between 23,000 and 75,000 sanitary-sewer overflows occur annually.
  • The out-of-pocket cost for sewer backup damage to a home is between $2,000 and $10,000. The actual costs may be higher if you include personal property and damage to the dwelling. (

Install a backup water valve to prevent sewer backups. Also, inspect and trim any tree roots near the sewer line. Finally, add more water so that waste does not move into your Septic Tank or city sewer line.

What is a sewer backup?

Subsurface water can seep into your home through your sewer or drainage system as a sewage backup. Pipe deterioration, tree roots, improperly disposing sanitary products, toilet paper and grease, or improperly disposing oil, can all lead to a sewer backup.

Stormwater, groundwater and downspouts can all be improperly diverted into the sewer system. This is because there is too much water in the system. While the private line is most often responsible, sometimes the sanitary drain system can also overflow and backfill into private homes.

What is the responsibility of the city for sewer lines?

The responsibility of the city usually starts at the main sewer line, which runs beyond your private property boundaries. The sewer line running through your property is usually your responsibility, as well as the laterals. Although the sewer line runs beyond your property, it is usually your responsibility until it connects with the main sewer line.

How to stop a sewer backup

There are many things that homeowners, tenants, and property owners can do to prevent a sewer backup.

  • Only flush toilet paper.
  • Tree roots should be removed from sewer lines.
  • Avoid planting trees or shrubs near sewer lines and laterals.
  • For exterior cleaning, hire a professional.
  • Do not pour fat, grease, or oil down the toilet.
  • Replace or line old pipes
  • Install a sewer backup device.
  • Do not connect sump pumps, sump pumps, French drains, downspouts or flood control systems with the sanitary sewer line.
  • To inspect your sewer and plumbing lines, hire a professional.
  • Lift the house drain

The main causes of sewer backups

Most sewer backups occur due to tenant or homeowner errors. Most often, a backup in a sewer line occurs from:

  • Toilet paper towels, diapers, sanitary products and flushable wipes can be flushed down the toilet.
  • Pipes can be clogged with oil, fat, grease, coffee grounds and eggshells.
  • Roots can infiltrate sewer lines by planting trees and bushes close to the lines.
  • Rainwater excess being diverted to sewer systems.
  • Pipes age and deteriorate, which can lead to a sewer line break or fracture.

According to the EPA, most US sewer system lines are on average 33 years old. Sewer backups can also occur when the main sewer line is aging.

Sewer backup can pose dangers

Sewer backups can cause property and personal damage depending on how severe the backup is. It is not only difficult and unpleasant to clean up, but it can also cost a lot to replace expensive kitchen and bathroom cabinets and fixtures.

Mold can grow in your home if the water isn’t cleaned up promptly and thoroughly. You and your family can be very sick from bacteria, viruses, parasites and other toxic substances in wastewater.

What is the cost of a sewer backup?

It is quite expensive to fix a sewer backup that does not cause damage to your home or belongings. The cleanup and restoration costs can range from $2,000 to $10,000. It is possible to get expensive quickly if there are more damages, such as:

  • A plumber will need to inspect the plumbing for any unknown cause. The average cost is $560.
  • It could cost around $600 to remove a tree root if it was the cause.
  • It can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 to replace a sewer line.
  • The cost of excavating the sewer line to replace it is between $6 and $15 per linear foot.
  • It will cost $6,000 to replace carpeting, baseboards, and walls in a finished basement.

All of these events would result in a sewer backup costing at least $10,000, plus cleanup and restoration costs. There are other damage possibilities.

What does sewer backup insurance cover

Sewer backup protection is provided by a home insurance policy to cover accidental physical loss to your property or dwelling. The exact coverage limits will vary depending on carrier. Most providers require an optional endorsement to your homeowners policy for this coverage. Your coverage limits will affect how much insurance companies will pay for sewer backup insurance. Sewer backup insurance can be expensive so it is worth considering, especially if you live somewhere where sewer lines are more likely to break down.

What to do when you have a sewer backup

If not addressed promptly, a sewer backup can damage your home and cause serious health problems. You can hire a professional to help you prevent further damage or minimize the risk of disease.

  • Turn off the power in any affected areas.
  • To remove solids and liquids, use a wet vacuum.
  • Cleanse walls and floors.
  • Get rid of absorbent materials such as carpets and wallboard.
  • Drain and disinfect plumbing fixtures and pipes.
  • Clean ductwork if needed.

Clogged pipes, tree roots, or other pipe problems are the most common causes of sewer backups. Do not flush anything other than toilet paper down your toilet. To prevent further illness or damage, immediately take photos of any sewer backups.