Obstructions in your plumbing system, resulting in clogged or slow-moving drains or toilets require immediate cleanup and repair. And since it’s your property, it’s your problem and your responsibility to fix it fast. Fortunately there are effective sewer backup prevention strategies you can implement to avoid these costly occurrences.
In the Kitchen
While it may be tempting to dump the rest of the mashed potatoes down the disposal and make the mess disappear, great amounts of food are bad for your pipes. Dispose of food scraps in the garbage or your compost bin.
Be careful not to pour grease, fats and oils from cooking down your drain. These particles stick to the sides of your pipes and prevent water from flushing through properly. Collect grease in a sealed container and toss it in the garbage.
In the Bathroom
Diapers, non-flushable wipes and personal hygiene products are some of the greatest enemies to a healthy sewer system. Always dispose of these items in a wastebasket, never down the toilet!
Aside from products used for cleaning your toilet, no other chemicals should be flushed down the pipes. These chemicals can kill bacteria that’s used for sewage treatment.
It stands to reason though bears mentioning that you should never use your toilet for flushing food scraps. Looking to discard Aunt Edna’s mystery meat during dinner? Use the napkin technique and bury it under the top layer of trash. Do not under any circumstances flush it down the toilet. If your toilet clogs and it comes back up, there’ll be no hiding from the truth.
Another common source of issues is kids’ toys getting flushed down the toilet and stuck in your pipes. Parents, try to keep the toys out of the restroom as much as possible. G.I. Joe does not quickly recover from toilet trauma.
Outside the Home
Do not plant trees or large shrubs with shallow, spreading root systems near your sewer lateral. Tree roots seek water sources, such as cracked sewer lines in your system. Once the roots have penetrated the line through cracks, the roots can create a dense trap for materials. Remedying this issue can be very costly. Most hardware stores carry root eliminator products that you can flush down your toilet to help prevent roots from growing in your sewer.
If your home has a basement entrance that’s located below ground, the landing slab should be constructed of concrete, sit above a gravel base and have a drain installed. The drain should discharge into your sump pump (not into your system system) so it can be pumped away. Keep the drain clear of debris and leaves.
Utilize a backflow prevention device as needed. These devices are common to homes and businesses and can be installed in your plumbing system by a licensed plumber. Backflow preventers allow water and backup materials to escape from the cleanout rather than flowing into your property and can effectively shut off your home from the street sewer system during extreme sewage backups.
Routinely check your sump pump to ensure it’s running properly. The sump pump is a small pump that collects water from inside your home and displaces it outdoors, usually through a small pipe. Check your sump pump monthly to ensure your power is connected and it’s running as it should.
Another key aspect of sewer backup prevention is to ensure you have a one-way flow valve installed. Not all homes are equipped with these valves; check your system and contact a licensed plumber for installation.
Jim Feltz, Woodard’s Project Manager of Catastrophe Response recommends having a plumber “camera-the-line” to see if there are any obstructions in the lines from the main system to the house. Conduct frequent checks at least every 12 months to make sure the lines are clear.
Most backups can generally be cleared with drain cleaners or a plunger. If these methods fail, contact a licensed plumber. When backup issues occur, you can minimize the damage to your possessions by utilizing bins and totes for storing items and keeping everything off the ground where possible.
Sewer backups can be costly and frustrating. Woodard has developed relationships with trusted plumbers in the St. Louis area. Don’t hesitate to contact our team for guidance and information.