Plumbing & Drain Cleaning Experts
What Causes A Sewer Backup?

What Causes A Sewer Backup?

WHAT IS A SEWER BACKUP?

Sewer Backup occurs when the water level in city sewers rises above the level of the basement floor. The sewage from the city sewer seeks its own level and enters the basement, causing water and sewage damage.

WHY DOES MY BASEMENT FLOOD DUE TO SEWER BACKUP?

The sewer system serving your home is set up to handle sewage. The sewer system is not set up to handle rainwater. Rain can enter the sewer at a

Drying out a basement

rate of 11 times the flow rate of sewage. The rainwater combines with the sewage and floods the sewer. The city is responsible for the sewer pipe under the street. The portion of the sewer pipe from your basement to the property line is your responsibility. It may be beyond the city’s means to protect your basement during these extreme conditions. Sometimes this sewer pipe gets clogged with tree roots or is compromised from age.

CAN I PROTECT MY BASEMENT FROM A SEWAGE BACKUP?

The Backwater Valve

Yes, you need not feel helpless. One protective measure is to install a backwater valve or backwater gate and check valve in the pipe connection to the city sewer. A backwater valve will close by itself in case of a heavy downpour and if you want even greater protection we can install a backwater gate/check valve. You would have to be home to close the gate valve manually but the check valve would protect your home until you arrive. Even if you have a sump pump, and it fails, the basement may flood with clear water, depending how much water is in the ground around your house. If you want more protection, a battery-operated sump pump is available as a backup to the electric driven pump.

WHAT IS A BATTERY OPERATED SUMP PUMP?

A battery operated sump pump can be used as a backup for the standard electric motor driven pump in case of a power failure. It operates on a storage battery that’s similar to the one in your car and includes a battery charger.

ARE SOME BASEMENTS MORE SUBJECT TO FLOODING DUE TO SEWER BACKUP THAN OTHERS?

Yes. Older houses with the sewer system under the floor may back up more frequently. Newer houses with overhead sewers don’t seem to have these problems. Water seeks its own level. If your basement floor is below the water level in the city sewer system, it will flood to that level. Houses with basements at higher elevations may not experience flooding or water damage.

WHAT IS A COMBINED SEWER?

A combined sewer is a sewer that receives sanitary sewage, footing drain water, and road drainage. In a community with combined sewers, the catch basins or grates in the streets are connected to the combined sewer.

WHAT KIND OF EXTREME CONDITIONS CAN FLOOD A SEWER SYSTEM THAT RECEIVES STORM WATER?

Typical examples of extreme conditions occur if

  • there is a heavy rain when the ground is frozen.
  • there is a heavy snow accumulation which melts quickly and the ground is already saturated.
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