Why is Sewage Backing Up Into My Bathtub?

Brown, black, silty, or otherwise dirty water shouldn’t come up your drain. This can represent a very nasty problem nobody wants to deal with. Before we dig in here, you should note that not all dirty water is sewage. Dirty water is old, used water that contains contaminants. Since it hasn’t had treatment yet, it may have soap, scum, grease, or many other things in it. It can be alarming when it comes up through the bathtub, particularly if it stinks up the house. So it’s important to know what kind of dirty water you’re dealing with.

Types of Dirty Water

If you’ve ever heard the term “greywater,” you might think that applies to all sewage. In reality, greywater is already used water for purposes other than human waste. This includes water used for cooking, cleaning, and sanitation. It’s what old dish and laundry water is. There is also brown and blackwater, representing sewage and human waste.

Your sources of dirty water all tend to run to the sewer line, and any blockage here is a real problem. A blockage far enough down the line can cause all your dirty water to come up through an open drain. The first drain available is usually the bathtub. As you might suspect, this can be a major sanitation crisis.

Sewer Line Blockages

What should you do if there’s a clog in your sewer line? First off, skip the plunger. Blockages in the sewer line have causes that a plunger can’t fix. Plungers can only get clogs right near the drain, and even then, they don’t always work. Also, certain things flushed down the toilet can lead to clogs. This is especially true of paper towels and hair or large volumes of toilet paper. Grease can also build up and clog a sewer line, which is why your bacon fat should go in a can, not down the drain.

Another common, but maybe unexpected, cause of blockages is the growth of tree roots. Trees can be serious invaders to your plumbing systems. The roots slide along plumbing joints, work their way in, and cause problems. You have to cut the roots back and fix the pipes to repair this clog. Because you can’t tell what kind of sewer main clog you have, it’s time to call the pros.

How to Unclog a Sewer Line

Sewer line clogs are serious, but there are options. A camera is usually used to prevent damage before trying any repair. These cameras can get a handle on how damaged your pipes are, but in some cases, all that’s needed is a plumber’s snake—these flexible metal cables spin to catch and clear debris and reach deep into a sewer main.

Other times, a machine called a hydro jet can be used. These are preferable to chemical treatments, as many do-it-yourself chemicals can damage pipes. Whatever the solution, you should know that a sewer line problem is always serious. You’ll want to call a professional in most cases, as these problems don’t go away on their own. After all, if you need mainline replacement, there’s no way you have the equipment to do it yourself.

If you suspect a sewer line problem, please give Conyers a call. Our experienced team will know what to do to fix your problem.