Sewage backups are probably one of grosses (and smelliest) disaster we help with. And while we’re happy to help, there are actually steps that you can take to identify a possible issue with your sewer system to prevent bigger issues from happening down the line. 

What Causes Backups and Sewer issues?

There are a number of causes for sewage backups and compromised pipes. Let’s explore some of the most common causes below:


Tree roots seeking moisture can invade and compromise sewer pipes and water lines by growing into them. Tree roots will naturally seek out water sources. If there is even a small crack leaking water into the surrounding soil, a root will seek it out. Older pipes are especially prone to root invasion.

Deep freezes

Extreme weather can also play a role in the health of your sewer pipes. A cold snaps can compromise your pipes, leaving them cracked and damaged. If cold weather causes your pipes to crack or burst, water won’t be able to flow to and from the house.

Foreign objects

We’ve heard it reiterated in public restrooms, on planes, and in businesses; “please do not flush any foreign objects”. There’s good reason for this. Older buildings have especially delicate plumbing systems that can get backed up easily. Sewer pipes, whether old or new, are not design to transport anything besides human waste and toilet paper.

When foreign objects such as toys, feminine hygiene products, personal items, etc. make it into the toilet bowl and get flushed, the are prone to getting stuck somewhere along the line. This can lead to buildups of water and sewage, as more and more matter gets stuck behind the blockage. 

Even wipes that are advertised as “flushable” can get caught on rough surfaces down the pipe and cause backups that can lead to pipe bursts and expensive repairs. 


Pipes that are made from iron and other metals that pass water through them are bound to corrode at one point or another. When corrosion happens, pipes can crack and leak.

Calcium Deposits

Did you know that if your pipes are made from iron or other metal materials, it’s possible for the minerals like calcium that are added to the water supply can actually lead to deposits that can impede water flow? It’s true! While this is less likely to happen in pipes made from PVC and other synthetic materials, older buildings with metal pipes are prone to these types of backups. 

Identifying Backups

There are several ways to tell that you have a sewer pipe issue on your hands. 

Sewer smell. One of the clearest signs of a problem with your sewer pipe is a new, foul smell of sewage in the house and around your yard. If your pipes are compromised, sewage that is backed up can stagnate or even leak into the surround areas. This results in a horrible smell that can be difficult to ignore.

Water coming up the drain. Lets image that one day you finish up in the restroom and flush the toilet like you normally do. If your sewer pipes are functioning properly, that brown water gets shuttled to the sewer system via the pipes. Now let’s image that those pipes are compromised in one way or another. Since that water isn’t able to go down the pipes the way it normally would, it may come back up through drains as it looks for somewhere to go. 

Lush spots in the yard. This sign is easiest to identify during the summer months. Raw sewage has tons of nutrients that helps plants thrive and acts as an extremely effective fertilizer. If there is a leak in your sewer system, you may notice that one area of your lawn may be particularly green compared to the rest of the grass. This is because that one area is receiving added nutrients from the leaking sewage. 

Preventing Backups

Now that we’ve talked about the causes of backups, let’s talk about preventing them. There are several steps that you can to help prevent backups from happening and getting out of hand. 

Routine Maintenance. Just like you have routine inspections and maintenance timelines for your car or HVAC system, routine maintenance and inspections for your sewer system can help extend the life of your pipes and caught smaller issues before they develop into bigger problems. 

Be Careful What you Flush. Another simple way you can prevent backups is following the rule of flushing only TP and waste. Like we stated earlier, even if a product is advertised as flushable, it can still lead to backups. 

We hope this information can help you identify issues with your sewer system and prevent disaster from striking. If your home or business is currently experiencing a major backup or burst with your sewer system, let MaxCare 24/7 of Washington help. We specialize in disaster prevention and relief, and provide services sewage removal and repair. 

Give us a call for a free estimate! We look forward to working with you soon.