What Causes Sewage Backup?


There are a few things that can causes your sewage to back up. Fundamentally, your sewage will back up when the wastewater is unable to pass through your pipes and sewer line freely. We’ll be taking a closer look at; the most common causes of sewage back ups, how to know when you’re dealing with backed up sewage and what you should do when it enters your home.

Common Causes of Sewage Back Ups 

Cracked sewer lines. Sewer lines can crack due to age, tree roots, settling dirt, damage from an external source or from any rocks that may enter the line, creating a blockage that will cause the sewage to back up into your home. 

Clogs. This can include anything from hair and food to small objects. These things can create blockages in your pipes and sewer line and stop or at least slow down the flow of wastewater, causing it to back up. 

Broken Sewer Lines. If your sewer line completely collapses or severs, wastewater won’t be able to get where it needs to go. Some of the wastewater may run off into the dirt but most of it will stay in the line and eventually cause a back up into your home. 

Tree roots will always gravitate towards water and nutrients, including the nutrients from sewer lines. If there are any cracks at all in your sewer line, the tree roots will start to grow through these cracks, making them larger and eventually causing it to back up into your home.



Be Aware 

Besides the obvious sight or smell of sewage back up, there are a few signs that you can look for that may indicate a sewage back up. 

  • Blockages in multiple drains throughout your home 
  • Your drains or toilets bubbling/gurgling 
  • Plumbing fixtures backing up when another one is used. For example, sewage backing up into your bathtub when you use the toilet or shower 

Prevention is Better Than Cure 

There are a number of ways in which you can help to prevent a sewer back up, these include; 

  • Responsible disposal of cooking oil. Cooking oil should not be poured down the sink. Instead, it should be poured into a heat resistant container and disposed of correctly once it has cooled down. If you pour oil down the kitchen sink, even with hot water, it can accumulate in the pipes and once it cools, it will solidify and block the line. 
  • Cut tree roots. Cutting tree roots near your pipes on a regular basis will minimise the chances of them growing into your pipes and causing damage. 
  • Properly dispose of paper products. Paper towels, hygienic wipes, disposable and cloth diapers and feminine products don’t break down quickly and can cause a lot of trouble if they are not disposed of correctly.
leaking toilet cistern

Act Quickly 

A sewer backup can cause a variety of issues including diseases, damage to your property or your valuables and even electrical malfunctions. If you experience a sewer backup, a prompt clean up the affected areas can minimise the inconvenience, damage and any mould that may grow as a result. Here’s a few things you can do to help your cause; 

  • Mopping the floors 
  • Wiping walls with soap and disinfectant 
  • Wet vacuuming and removing any spillage 
  • Flushing out and disinfecting any affected plumbing fixtures 
  • Steam clean/remove any wet carpets 
  • Repair or remove any damaged wall 

Backflow prevention devices must be installed on every property in accordance with Australian Standard 3500.1. These devices are meant to prevent sewage from backing up into your property but unfortunately, as with most things, these may one day malfunction. Identifying the root cause of the issue can be difficult on your own. 

It is recommended that you call a qualified and licensed plumbing professional such as The Fawcett Group to come and visually inspect your drains. Our CCTV cameras make it very easy to see the length of your drains and pinpoint exactly where the issue is. Phone us on 1300 329 238 at any time of the day or night, we have technicians on call 24/7!

Fawcett Group Team Photo