Whether you are on the city or county sewer or your own septic system, you can experience a backup.  The causes vary widely from improper installation of the underground system to roots in the line to faulty piping outside. Homeowners usually identify a sewer backup easily because the odor generally gives it away.  Most homes have a cleanout outside of the house, typically within a few feet of the house. The cleanout is a black or white plastic pipe with a cap or plug slightly above ground level.


How the Stoppage is Addressed:

To clear a stoppage that is downstream of this cleanout, the cap is removed, and a sewer machine inserted there.  With any luck, the stoppage can be removed and followed up with a video inspection to determine the cause. If the stoppage is upstream of this cleanout or if there is no cleanout, then it may be necessary to remove a toilet to gain access to a pipe large enough to use the sewer machine.

The Common Causes of Sewer Stoppages:

  1. Flushing the Wrong Things–The disposal of personal wipes, baby wipes, feminine products, fats, oils, grease, diapers, facial tissues, or paper towels in your toilet will cause problems sooner or later. Only put products in the sewer system that are designed to disintegrate in water, such as toilet paper.
  2. Root Infiltration–Often at the junction of the home’s drainage line with the municipal tap, roots will infiltrate a sewer line if there is even the slightest opening. Once inside, they will grow in the nutrient-rich environment and eventually cause major problems.
  3. Improper Drainage–Most modern sewer systems utilize plastic pipes, but there are still many older sewer systems using cast iron or other materials not conducive to good drainage. Cast iron can become very corroded, scaled, and rough, which will cause material to become lodged and create a stoppage.  Once cleared, most professionals will advise replacing the sewer line with plastic if it is a reasonable solution.
  4. Pipe Damage—If your sewer pipes are broken or burst, your system will not be able drain sewage appropriately. Damaged pipes can be caused by increased pressure from shifting soil, increased traffic above, or heavy machinery usage on the surface. Pipes can also become compromised by corrosion or leaking joints failing.
  5. Sewer Line Sagging—This issue can happen over time because of sinking soil or ground conditions. Where the sag is located, toilet paper and sewage will collect and cause recurring blockages.

If you begin to notice frequent clogs in your drains, multiple clogs at one time in different fixtures, strange occurrences in your fixtures (such as flushing your toilet causes flooding in your shower drain) or unusual lawn conditions like unexplained flooding or indentation, call FitzGerald & Sons’ Plumbing Company now! We will provide a professional and swift solution to your sewer issues.


**Prior to attempting any at-home maintenance, review the following disclaimer. FitzGerald & Sons Plumbing Co. takes no responsibility for any actions of the homeowner and is not liable for any losses or damages incurred. If damage occurs from attempting home maintenance, FitzGerald & Sons Plumbing Co. is not responsible for fixing the issue, unless hired at our normal service rate to address the issue. Before attempting to resolve any plumbing issues, we recommend carefully consulting any instructions or manuals which may have been included. If the work requires an experienced and licensed professional plumber, our staff is available 24/7 to help.