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4 Causes of Sewer Backups in Homes & Ways to Fix

4 Causes of Sewer Backups in Homes & Ways to Fix

Sewers. We never really give much thought to them—unless there’s something acting up in our home. Are you having trouble flushing your toilet? Is the sink in your kitchen clogged? Once you encounter issues such as a clogged drain, this is the moment you may start to ask yourself, “Is the sewer backed up?”

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Although the main function of a sewer is to circulate wastewater, this type of system is complex. A sewer system is an important part of urban infrastructure because it helps maintain a healthy and safe environment. By carrying away wastewater, they keep the environment safe from flooding and help prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. This is why it could be alarming if there is a sewer backup in your home. To help you diagnose the source of the clogged drain in your bathroom, we have compiled a list of 4 ordinary causes of sewer backups in homes.

Why Is My Sewer Backed Up?


A common reason for a sewer backup are clogs in the drain pipes or main sewer lines beneath the ground. The source of the blockage may be grease, hair, or other solid materials. Clogs can also happen if the sump pump in your basement fails.

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Tree Roots

Sewer lines are a system of underground pipes. This means they are near things like rocks and roots. Since tree roots can grow very long, a root may start to grow towards a pipe with a small leak. Once the tree root reaches the pipe, it may cause a hole or grow around it and cause a sewage backup. Even if you do not have any trees on your property, trees in your neighbors yard can still pose a problem.

PipesCracked Sewer Pipes

If your pipes are old, chances are that they are susceptible to damage. A sewer backup may be the result of this damage. Cast iron and clay pipes do not last very long and are commonly prone to cracks.


Heavy rain can be a culprit to a sewer backup. When a local neighborhood receives a large amount of rain, it is not abnormal for the municipal sewer system to reach its maximum capacity. Once a flood forms in the sewer system, the excess water may travel to the residential sewage pipes that are connected to your house. If you notice a backflow of water in your sink, this is a sign of a sewage backup in the main sewer line that is connected to your property.

4 Signs Your Sewer Pipes Are Backed Up

A sewer backup can put your life on a pause. Make sure you know the signs of a sewer backup. The quicker you can identify it, the quicker you can fix it. Here are 4 ways to tell if your sewer is backed up:

Multiple Drains Are Clogged

It’s pretty common to have one clogged drain. Whether it’s toilet paper or grease, these things happen. But if multiple drains in your home are clogged, this could be a sign of an even bigger problem—your entire sewer could be blacked up.

4 Causes of Sewer Backups in Homes & Ways to Fix Bubbles Near The Drain

Air gets trapped in a clogged drain when water tries to get past the blockage. If you see bubbles when you flush a toilet or when the sink is draining, it could be due to a sewer backup.

Toilets Won’t Flush

A common sign of a sewer backup is toilet issues. If you notice your toilet isn’t really flushing the way it should be and plunging it does not seem to help, it could be—you guessed it—a backed-up sewer.

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Water Backflow

A major sign of a sewer backup is if you use a drain and an unrelated drain gurgles. For example, if you flush your toilet and you hear this in your tub or shower, it means there is a sewer backup and the water is trying to find another way out.

Types of Sewer Pipes

Not all sewer pipes are built the same, and the type of pipe your sewer is made of could have an impact on future issues. Here are the 4 most common types of sewer pipes:

PipesCast Iron Pipes

Cast iron pipes are found in older homes. Although this type of piping material is strong, it is prone to corrosion and sewer backups. Once a cast iron pipe reaches the end of its life cycle, it will start to crack beneath the ground.

Clay Pipes

This type of pipe has a long lifespan, but it is very susceptible to tree root infiltration and sewage backups. Because it is clay, it does not provide a reliable seal against water, meaning that the water leaks and attracts roots.

Orangeburg Pipes

Orangeburg sewer pipes are assembled with bituminized fiber. These pipes used to be popular because of their lightweight design and versatility. However, orangeburg pipes are very brittle and are more susceptible to sewer backups in comparison to other pipes. Orangeburg is no longer used in residential plumbing systems. If you still have Orangeburg piping, replace the pipes with a stronger material as soon as possible.

PVC & ABS Pipes

These pipes are widely used for their flexibility, affordability, and durability.

Plumbing ServicesSewer & Plumbing Repair Services

Don’t let a sewer backup hinder your life. Give our team of licensed plumbers in Arlington, VA and other areas a call by phone at (703) 543-9649 to book an appointment. We offer sewer line repair and replacement services to homes in areas of Virginia such as Reston, Alexandria, Centreville, and Arlington. Our team is committed to restoring the comfort and safety of your home. In addition to sewer solutions, we offer other types of plumbing services such as sump pump installation, drain cleaning, and water heater repair. From a clogged drain to a backed-up sewer, we offer fast and affordable services. Contact us today.

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