Why Does My Plumbing Keep Backing Up? (5 Different Things You Can Do to Fix It)

“You turn the faucet, expecting water to flow freely, but instead, you hear that dreadful gurgling noise that tells you something’s not quite right.”

If you’ve ever experienced this, you’re familiar with the frustration of dealing with plumbing backups. As much as we want our pipes to function smoothly, sometimes the plumbing gods have other plans. So, how do we turn the situation around?

In this article, we delve into why your plumbing keeps backing up and explore five solutions for fixing it.

Why does plumbing back up?

Pipes can burst for many reasons, usually related to problems or obstructions in plumbing. Here are some typical reasons:

  • Blockages: Blockages may occur when non-flushable substances like hair, grease, toiletries, or excessive toilet paper get trapped in pipes.
  • Tree roots: Tree roots may get into sewer lines and cause obstructions. The seeds are attracted by the water in pipes, and with time, they may grow inside and cause blockages or damage.
  • Collapsed or broken pipes: The cause is age, inadequate installation, a poor design or shifting soil, or freezing and thawing cycles. Pipes that are damaged or collapsed stop regular flow, leading to backups.
  • Sewer line problems: If your plumbing connects to the municipal sewer system, issues within the main sewer line, such as overflows, blockages, or blocks, could lead to backups in your home.
  • Poor plumbing design: If your plumbing system needs to be properly designed to handle the wastewater load, it will result in backups.
  • Floods or heavy rainfall: Heavy rain or flooding can impede drainage systems, leading to backups.

5 different things you can do to fix a plumbing backup

Mainline backups can devastate any person, regardless of whether you own your home or lease townhouses, apartments, etc. Mainline backups happen when the main sewer line is unable to drain entirely or even partially.

It affects all homes and often results in flooding. There are five solutions you can implement to resolve a plumbing backup problem:

1. Plunger usage

One of the most simple and widely employed tools for fixing an issue with plumbing can be the plunger. The plunger is a tool to eliminate blockages in bathtubs, sinks, and toilets. Begin by ensuring the plunger is submerged in water to maximize the effect.

Put the plunger in the drain’s opening and make several vigorous, swift plunges to produce suction and pressure. Ensure the seal is in good condition during the plunge to increase the chance of successfully removing the blockage.

If the backup does not disappear after several attempts, It’s time to look at an alternative method.

2. Drain snake or hand auger

If the plunger’s effectiveness isn’t there, The next step may be to employ a drain snake or hand auger device. It’s an oiled spiral snake that is flexible and can be pulled through the pipe to cut or remove the blockage that causes a backup.

When you insert the snake into the blocked line and then turn the handle, you can break the obstruction or attach it to it to remove it. It’s more effective than a plunger when dealing with longer-lasting and deeper clogs.

3. Chemical drain cleaners

Utilizing a chemical drain cleaner to resolve a backup in the plumbing. These cleaners can dissolve hair, soap, grease, or food waste, slowing down pipes. But, they must be used with care.

Chemical drain cleaners may damage your pipes, especially if they are old or constructed from certain substances.

They can also be harmful to the planet and could pose a risk to health if they are mishandled. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety guidelines when handling these products.

4. Hydro jetting

Hydro Jetting is a technique professional plumbers employ to eliminate obstructions in pipes. This involves blasting the water with high pressure through the drain to push the block across the pipeline or tear it up.

This technique is highly effective in clearing stubborn blockages and tree roots.

But, due to the pressure used for hydro jetting, it must only be done by certified experts since it can cause damage to pipes if not performed properly. It’s also eco-friendly, as it uses only water and no other chemicals.

5. Pipe replacement

If the issue results from seriously damaged or deteriorated pipes, then replacing the damaged section is the best option for a permanent solution. This is generally the last option since it could be expensive and long-lasting.

The process involves digging up the area surrounding the damaged pipe, removing the damaged section, and replacing it with a brand-new one.

Since this requires a lot of work and an understanding of plumbing systems, an authorized plumber is best suited to replace pipes.

It’s an efficient method to stop regular plumbing backups and increase the overall efficiency of your plumbing system.

What are the signs and symptoms of plumbing backup?

A plumbing backup happens when drains aren’t able to remove either water or waste, leading to excess flow. The signs include slow draining smells, foul odors, the sound of drains gurgling, and, sometimes, the return of wastewater to the fixtures.

It is usually caused by obstructions within the system, tree root intrusion, and damaged or corroded pipes.

Regular inspections and maintenance will assist in avoiding major backups in the plumbing system. Here’s a table that outlines the symptoms and signs of a plumbing backup

Signs or symptomsExplanation
Slowly draining drains or stopped-up drainsIt is the most typical indicator of a water backup. If you find that your drains drain slowly or are not draining at all, this could mean that there’s a blockage within the system.
Sewer gas smellsIf you can smell sewer gas emanating from your toilets or drains, it’s an indication of something wrong with your plumbing. Sewer gas is harmful to your health, which is why it is essential to act quickly whenever you detect it.
The water is leaking into your drainsThis is a much more important sign of a plumbing backup. If you observe water flowing into your drains, it could be a sign the problem is in your primary sewer lines. This can lead to flooding in your home, and could pose a hazardous health hazard.
The sound of gurgling or buzzing comes from your drainsThe noises could result from air bubbles that are trapped within the system. They could also be an indication of a blocked drain.
Clogs that are visible in your drainsIf you notice an obstruction inside your pipes, like hairy strands or an accumulation of grease, It’s a sign that you must act to get rid of it.
This table explains the signs and symptoms of plumbing backup

How can I tell if my sewer line is clogged?

The sounds can be a sign of a blocked sewer line. In the event that your drain line has become blocked, there could be the sound of bubbling or gurgling emanating from your drains, sinks, or toilets. The reason for this is that air is trapped before being released by the obstruction.

In the most severe instances, there is a possibility of hearing an amplification of the sound that sounds like the sound of a low rumbling. This could be caused by the water rushing up, trying to find a different solution.

There are also indicators that could indicate that your sewer line has become blocked:

  • Multiple drains get blocked: When more than one sink, toilet, or shower is not draining or slowing the way it should, there is a sewer line obstruction.
  • Plumbing fixtures making gurgling: The sound of gurgling emanating from your drains or toilet could be a sign of a blockage within your sewer lines.
  • Regular plumbing backups: If it’s the case that you often have to snake or plunge through your pipes, it’s likely the main sewer line in your home is blocked.
  • Unpleasant odors: The strong smell of sewage in or around your home could indicate an obstruction in your sewer lines.

How can I prevent plumbing backups?

Backups in plumbing are usually caused by clogs, rusty pipes, or problems in your sewer line. The blockages cause water to flow slower, which can lead to floods or serious damage if they’re not addressed promptly.

Here are some prevention actions:

  • Maintenance on a regular basis: Plan regular professional inspections and maintenance of your plumbing system. This will help you identify and address minor problems before they get out of hand.
  • Proper disposal: Don’t flush non-biodegradable products like diapers, wipes, or feminine hygiene products down the toilet. Also, avoid pouring oil, grease, or coffee grounds into the sink because they could solidify and cause obstructions.
  • Install a backwater valve: This device is put inside a sewer line in the basement, to avoid sewer backups.
  • Tree management: Check regularly for tree roots that are growing into the sewer lines. They can cause major damage and obstructions.
  • Replace old pipes: Pipes that are old and corroded are more prone to breakages and blockages. It is recommended to replace them with brand new ones to avoid problems.

What should I do immediately if I have a plumbing backup?

If you can and without risking your life, shut off the electricity circuit in the area affected or shut off the electricity to the home. Do not use plumbing fixtures inside the house.

Then, take these steps right away:

  • Shut off the water: If you are able to identify the origin that caused the issue, switch off the water through the valve in your local area. If it is not possible, or if your backup is substantial, turn off your main supply of water to the residence.
  • Protect your possessions: Move furniture, rugs, and other valuables from the area affected to avoid water destruction.
  • Record the damages: Photograph and take notes on the damage to be used for insurance reasons.
  • Contact an expert: Contact an experienced plumber or water remediation company to assess and correct the issue.
  • Contact your insurance provider: Contact your insurance company: inform them of the issue, and provide evidence. They will help you with how to proceed with claims if your insurance policy covers the damages.

What are the dangers of a plumbing back up?

Your health could be affected when a sewage backup occurs within your home. Sewage back-ups may affect your drinking water.

They can also cause surface water pollution (lakes and rivers, ponds, and reservoirs used to supply drinking water).

Backup from sewage releases physical and airborne pollutants. Inhaling these vapors could cause symptoms, such as vomiting, cramping, fever, and other extreme types of gastroenteritis.

If not treated, breathing in the sewage backup for prolonged periods could cause death.

What kind of tools are available to fix plumbing backups?

Small clogs can be cured using simple tools such as a plunger or hand auger. However, more severe backups, specifically those that affect major sewer lines, usually require expert attention.

These are the most commonly used tools to solve problems with plumbing backups:

  • Plungers: This is the most common tool for unclogging toilets and drains. They create pressure that can help dislodge the clog.
  • Hand augers or plumbing snakes: Flexible cables pushed through the pipe to dislodge a clog. They can reach further than a plunger.
  • Closet auger: A specialized type of drill designed specifically for toilets, it has a flexible shaft and a crank that can break up obstructions.
  • Hydro jetting machine: Used by professionals, this tool uses high-pressure water to clear out clogs and clean the inside of pipes.
  • Pipe wrenches: These are used for gripping and turning pipes. They’re essential for removing and replacing pipes.
  • Inspection camera: A professional tool that helps inspect the inside of a pipe, locating the source of a clog or damage.

What if I ignore a plumbing backup?

In the event of a plumbing problem, neglecting it could lead to various serious issues. The initial inconvenience of a reduced water flow or a complete shutdown is just the beginning.

As time passes, the backup could cause pipes to burst because of the pressure build-up, causing the possibility of serious damage to your property from water. This can destroy the structure of your house’s furniture, structure, and other items.

Also, when the backup is the sewage system, it could pose significant health hazards since the wastewater has harmful viruses and bacteria.

Exposure to wastewater for long periods of time can result in illness. Also, the water in the backup can create an ideal atmosphere for mold and mildew growth, which may aggravate health problems, especially respiratory issues.

The issue needs to be addressed, which increases the chance of costly repairs in the future. What could have been easily fixed by a professional could turn into a requirement for massive pipe replacements or significant repairs to water damage.

A minor plumbing problem can escalate into a health risk and financial burden if treated immediately.

Does unclogging sewer lines require a plumber?

Unblocking the sewer line usually requires a plumber who is a professional.

While minor clogs in toilets and sinks may be dealt with using basic household tools such as an auger or plunger auger, a blockage of the main sewer line can be a more complex issue that usually requires professional equipment and know-how.

How much does it cost to fix a plumbing backup?

The cost to fix the issue of a plumbing leak can be different in relation to the severity of the blockage, the site of the blockage, and the plumbing professional you select.

In general, you should expect to pay between $100-$500 to help the plumber eliminate a clog in your home.

But, if the issue is extremely large or in your main sewer lines, the price may be higher.

Why is my plumbing constantly getting backed up? (This is even after resolving the problem, but it comes back)

Frequent backups can be an indication of obstructions inside your sewer line. More than just cleaning out a portion of your system is needed to eliminate the sewer clogs. To resolve the issue, you’ll access your sewer lines.

In addition, frequent plumbing backups may be caused by various issues, which include:

  • Pipes that are damaged or old: When your pipes appear older and damaged, they may be damaged, cracked, or collapsed. Cleaning a clog may be a temporary fix since new clogs will likely develop in damaged pipes.
  • Pipe slope that needs to be corrected: The pipes must have an upward slope toward the septic tank or sewer to allow wastewater to flow properly. When the angle isn’t perfect, it can cause waste to build up and create backups.
  • Use drains in a way that is not safe: When non-flushable objects or grease are flushed or washed down drains frequently, this could result in frequent blockages.
  • Insufficient sewer line: If the sewer pipe needs to be bigger to accommodate the volume of waste coming from your home, it could cause frequent backups.
  • City sewer problems: If your home is connected to a municipal sewer system, the issue could be with the main line.

Other interesting articles:

Author: Logan

I help people connect with businesses