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Sewer Backup: Causes and Warning Signs

Typical Signs of Sewer Backup: Common Causes and Solutions

Sewer backups are a disgusting and inconvenient problem that no one wants to deal with. Not only is the smell disgusting, but the water can also carry harmful bacteria and viruses.

If you’re not careful, a sewer backup can cause extensive damage to your home and belongings. So, it is crucial to recognize the signs of a sewer backup so that you can take action to prevent one from happening.

In this article, we will discuss the signs of a sewer backup so you can assess the situation and take the appropriate measures. But before we get into the signs, let’s take a look at what causes a sewer backup in the first place.

What are the Causes of Sewer Backups?

There are several things that can cause a sewer backup. The majority of these are human-related mistakes that can easily be avoided. Some of the most common causes of sewer backups are:

Clogged or broken pipes

clogged and broken pipes causes a sewer back up

Pipes can become clogged over time due to build-up from soap, hair, grease, and other debris. Clogged pipes can also be caused by tree roots growing into the sewer line. Additionally, pipes can break from freezing weather or simply age and wear. If it is inspected regularly, this can cause a sewer backup.

Overflowing sump pumps and septic tanks

sewer is backed up and sump pump overflowed

It’s critical to keep an eye on the sump pump or septic tank in your basement if you have one. They may break down, overflow, and back up into your house through the drains if they aren’t maintained properly.

Heavy Rainstorm

heavy rainstorm and the sewer system is not working

If you live in an area prone to heavy rains, the sewer system can become overwhelmed and cause a sewer backup. It would be best to take measures to prevent this, such as installing sump pumps and drain tiles around your house.

Now that we know some of the causes of sewer backups, let’s take a look at the signs to determine if you are experiencing one.

How Do You Know if Your Sewer is Backed up? Here are the 8 Critical Symptoms

1. Slow Drains

slow drain can be a symptom of sewer back up

One of the most common signs of a sewer backup is slow drains. If you notice that your sinks, showers, or tubs are draining slowly, it could be a sign that something is blocking the line and causing the backup.

You can also try pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain to clear it out. If that doesn’t work, then you likely have a sewer backup on your hands. If this is the case, you should call a plumber immediately to take care of the problem.

Professional plumbers will inspect your sewer or drains using a camera to see the problem and unblock it with high-pressure jetting equipment or by utilizing a drain cleaner.

2. Gurgling Noise

If you hear a gurgling noise coming from your toilet, kitchen, or shower drains, it is a sign that there is air in the line and that the sewer is backing up. Sometimes you can see bubbles in the water when this happens.

3. Toilet is Backing Up and Overflowing

overflowing toilet is a sign of a sewer issue

It is common for the toilet to become backed up, but it could be a sign of a larger issue if it happens frequently. If the water in the toilet is backing up and overflowing, it is a sign that you have a blockage somewhere in the sewer line.

4. Foul Odor

sewage drainage problems will produce a foul odor

If you smell a foul odor in your home, it is likely caused by the sewer backup. This odor is often described as a mix of rotten eggs and sewage. If the smell gets stronger the closer you get to a particular drain, that is likely where the backup occurs. You can learn more about what sewer gas smells like here. 

5. Standing Water in Your Yard

standing water in your lawn could be a sewer problem

If you notice standing water in your yard, it is a sign that the sewer is backing up and overflowing. This is most common during periods of heavy rain or flooding. You can also check the source of the standing water to see if it is coming from a sewer line.

6. Grass Over-growth in Your Yard

Another sign of a sewer backup is an overgrowth of grass in your yard. The backed-up sewage will often seep into the ground and fertilize the grass. With this sign, you can usually pinpoint the area of your yard where the backup is occurring when you see the wild growth of grass.

7. Foundation Cracks

cracks in your foundation is a sewer back up symptom

When it comes to difficult situations, a sign of a sewer backup is foundation cracks. The excessive amount of water from the backup can cause the foundation to shift and crack. Water damage can also cause wood to rot and weaken the overall structure of your home.

8. Mold and Mildew Growth

mold and mildew growing in your walls could be sewage drainage problem

Lastly, if you notice mold or mildew growth behind your walls where the pipes are located, it could signify a sewer backup. This is because the moisture from the backup will create the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow.

If you are experiencing any of these signs, it is essential to take action. It would be best to contact a plumber who can inspect the sewer line and take care of the backup.


Sewer backups can occur for various reasons, but there are some common signs to look out for. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to take action right away and contact a plumber.

Doing so will help prevent further damage to your home and keep your family safe from the dangerous bacteria found in backed-up sewage.

If you reside in the Lower Mainland of Canada and are having trouble with your sewer line, contact Your Guy Plumbing for a free consultation. Our expert plumbers will collaborate with you to choose the best sewer line repair procedure suited to your situation, so you get the results you need. Visit us online or give us a call at 604-200-6734 today.

John Relampago

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