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Common Causes of Sewer Back-Ups

One of the most unpleasant water damage disasters for a Hattiesburg homeowner to deal with is the backup of their home’s sewer system. Sewer backups occur when wastewater cannot flow through the lateral sanitary sewer line. This is usually due to an obstruction or damage. (The lateral sanitary sewer line connects your home to the municipal sanitary sewers.) Due to the blockage, wastewater fills your sewer lines and drain pipes until it eventually overflows into your home. This happens through a basement drains, toilets, and even shower heads. This dangerous and stinky mess is also hazardous. Sewage contains all kinds of chemical, mildew and biological contaminants.

Generally, sewer line backups are caused by one of the following issues in the city’s main sewer lines or your home’s sewer lines—or both:

Root Infiltration

One of the best features of your home can cause a sewer back-up; tree roots can cause major problems if they grow into the sewer lines at joint points. Once roots enter the sewer lines, the only way to repair the issue is to cut away the roots and then repair or replace the pipe.

Misrouted Gutters, Downspouts, And Sump Pumps

While connecting gutters, downspouts, and sump pumps to storm sewers are okay, connecting them to your sanitary sewer line is risky. A significant amount of water can flow through gutters and sump pumps during heavy rainfalls or as snow melts. Sanitary sewers are intended to remove a much lower volume of wastewater from your house. Connecting stormwater to your sanitary sewers increases the chances of a backup.


Clogs in your home’s drain pipes or the city’s main sewer line can cause a sewage backup. Waste that should flow into the public sewer system is pushed back into your home. Clogs can come from hair, an accumulation of cooking grease, or food waste. Other common clogs form from coffee grounds, toilet paper, or soap residue. Wastewater pipes are not meant to handle this material.

The easiest way to prevent a clogged drain is to keep toilets, sinks, and drains clean and use them as intended. Avoid flushing anything but toilet paper down toilets. Properly dispose of tissues, cleaning wipes, diapers, paper towels, and hygiene products. Use a mesh trap with shower and bath drains to keep hair from going down the drain. Never pour grease, oil, or coffee grounds down your kitchen sink and only use your garbage disposal for food waste smaller than a pea.

Problems With Municipal Sewers

While you have some control over many causes, there very little you can do to prevent a municipal sewer prone to blockages. Over time, the system degrades due to increased capacity and misalignment, holes, or cracks in the lines. Depending on the age of your home, your connecting sewer pipe is likely made of PVC, cast iron, or clay. While these materials are durable, they will not last forever.

Contaminated Flood Water

Floodwater can have very high levels of bacteria, viruses, sewage, and parasites. These can infect you if it gets in your mouth, your eyes, or into a cut in your skin. Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E. coli, and salmonella are a few examples of unwanted germs. These can contaminate floodwater and cause stomach distress.


Any Disaster, Any Size In Hattiesburg

It does not matter how big or small the damage is. Your situation requires advanced technology, equipment, and procedures to restore any property disaster. Don’t wait; water damage can start immediately. Floors and walls will quickly stain, and, in as little as 24 hours, mold can begin to grow. ServiceMaster Restore emergency responders are standing by 24 hours a day to get your home back to pre-loss condition. We will do so as quickly as possible so that can return to your life. Call the water damage restoration team you can trust!


About the Author

Darrin Renz, Owner
ServiceMaster of Hattiesburg

Darrin Renz and his wife, Cindy, have owned and operated ServiceMaster of Hattiesburg since 1997. For two years, they ran the business themselves before hiring an additional technician to assist with fire and water damage restoration. Since then, they have continued to grow the business, serving residential and commercial clients in Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian, and the surrounding areas.