Signs Of A Mainline Backup

It's important to be able to recognize warning signs that your mainline is backed up. The earlier that intervention occurs, the better.

What is a Mainline Backup?

A mainline backup can affect anyone whether you own your own home, or rent an apartment, townhouse, etc. 

Mainline backups occur when the main sewer line loses the ability to fully or partially drain. This affects the entire home and commonly results in flooding.

Imagine someone taking a shower upstairs and finding the downstairs bathroom flooded. This occurs because the water is looking for the lowest possible outlet and is needing an escape due to a blockage within the main sewer line.

One of the most common signs of a mainline backup is that when you flush the toilet the sewage backs up into your bathtub or shower. 

Warning Signs of a Mainline Backup

There are many different warning signs that you can watch out for to catch a mainline backup early. Early intervention is crucial for fixing the issue, as well as, preventing any further damage.

1. Sewage smell coming from your drains. Drains are meant to move wastewater away from the home, so if you notice a smell coming from your drain this may be indicative of a mainline backup.

2. Drains/Toilet Bubbling. If you notice bubbling in your drains and/or toilets this can be a red flag that you're mainline is backing up. The reason for the bubbling is because the wastewater is not able to flow through your plumbing system properly and so it begins to back up into the toilet and drains because it has nowhere else to go.

3. Slow Drains. When there is a backup within your sewage system, you will likely have multiple drains within your home flowing slowly. You would notice that the slow-flowing drains begin at the lowest points in your home as the backup moves up your pipes and sewer line. For example, if your basement drains are emptying slowly and your second-floor drains are not, this can be a sign that you have a mainline backup.

4. Multiple Clogged Drains. It's common to experience a clogged or slow emptying drain within your home from time to time. But if you experience multiple clogged or slow emptying drains in your home this is likely indicative of an issue with your mainline.

5. Cleanout Pipe Leaking Sewage. The cleanout pipe is typically located outside of the home or in the basement. When there is a mainline backup, sewage can actually be pushed out of the cleanout pipe, so if you notice sewage coming out of a pipe that's in your basement or your yard have it evaluated immediately because it's likely a backup.

6. Decreased Water Pressure. You may have a clog in your mainline if you notice that your water pressure has suddenly dropped. Also, you may notice water draining from your shower or bathroom faucet when the washing machine is running.

What Causes A Mainline Backup?

There are many reasons that a mainline backup occurs.

Some common reasons include: 

  • Overgrown tree roots affecting the sewer line
  • Rapid or extreme temperature changes
  • Frequently pouring grease and oil down sink drains
  • Pipes that are damaged or broken
  • Frequent flushing of unsafe products (foods, wipes, hygiene products, etc.) 

How to Prevent A Mainline Backup

There are preventive measures that you can take to avoid a mainline backup within your home. 

The best thing that you can do for your plumbing system is not flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. You can learn more about flushable wipes here

Avoid putting foods and oils/grease down the sink.

It is also recommended to have your mainline checked by a licensed plumber every 2 years for early identification and intervention of any potential issues.

What To Do If You Experience A Mainline Backup

If you suspect a mainline backup, it is recommended to contact a local plumber immediately. The plumber will inspect the pipes and work to discover the problem within your sewer system. Once the problem is identified they can then provide you with the options for repair.

The treatment of a mainline backup is dependent upon the cause. 

So, if there is a clog, they will clean out the mainline to remove it. If it is caused by a broken or damaged pipe, they will replace the necessary piping. In some situations, the mainline backup is so severe that the entire sewer line must be replaced. 

It is recommended to contact you're local, trusted plumber to provide you with the necessary assessment and intervention to take care of the problem.

Donovan WaterWorks is experienced and certified in Backflow. We provide quick, efficient, and effective services. 

We are available 24/7 for emergencies such as this. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and address any and all of your plumbing needs.

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