As many of you know, Cape Cod with its septic systems is not the most progressive place to live when it comes to wastewater. Septic systems are used when there are no accessible sewage treatment plants in the area, and on the way to the actual septic tank a lot of things can happen. Nonetheless, sewer lines are one of the best gifts of modern civilization known to man. Without it, people would still be digging holes in the dirt outside their homes to bury their waste, and we all know what happens to waste that’s not properly disposed of, recycled or decomposed—it gives rise to diseases.
A typical home has two sewer lines—one leading away from and one leading into the house. The outgoing sewer line –which is used by your washing machine, dishwasher, shower, tub, sinks and toilet – carries used water away from your home to a proper disposal site.
A backup can occur when, somewhere along the way, the outgoing sewer line gets blocked or clogged. As a result, the wastewater doesn’t have anywhere to go. This will first manifest as the slow draining of water throughout the house. Even more dramatically, as the problem worsens, the wastewater “backs up” your drains, contaminating your clean water and creating unsanitary conditions.
This problem might not even occur because YOU did something wrong, it could’ve been a former owner or tenant who poured grease down the drain and the sewer backs up so slowly that you don’t notice anything for months until one day you wake up with a very unpleasant surprise in your bathroom. Or you live in a condo and your backup can be a result of something your neighbors did, which is particularly frustrating, because this usually leads to investigations and insurance companies fighting each other.
If a sewer backup does happen to you make sure that you stay out of floodwater in your basement, especially if there are electrical outlets nearby. Don’t use any of the plumbing until the blockage has been fixed and turn off power at the electrical panel if you can reach it safely without walking in water. Call your electrical utility or a licensed electrician for help if you aren’t sure. Most importantly: Contact a licensed plumber to have them determine the source of the problem. The Pipe Doctor will be happy to help you out in this unfortunate situation and can also give you advice on how to avoid sewer backups in the future.
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