Last month we talked about pipes bursting in the winter and how to prevent that cold weather nightmare. Sewer leaks can also be a problem in the frigid temperatures. You may associate sewer leaks with warmer spring and summer seasons because flooding is more common then, but winter is not exempt. The causes are numerous, from tree root blockages and toilet obstructions to defects in the sewer lines and frozen septic systems.
Sewage is composed of everything you put down the drain: human excrement and waste, beauty products, food waste, and so on. This mixture generates gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide. Sewage leaks release these gases, which can lead to sickness, disorientation, and even death. Hydrogen sulfide is toxic, and methane can lead to asphyxiation. Add in the pathogens present in sewage, which can cause major problems if ingested, and a sewage leak has the potential to be more dangerous than you may expect. Not only are the chemicals in sewage dangerous, but the leaks can also damage materials in your home, like sheetrock, carpet, and furniture. If left untreated, it can cause mold or even an unsanitary ponding condition in your yard.
Sewer leaks can be hard to detect, but there are a few signs to look for. You may notice an odor or gurgling noises coming from your drains or gurgling sounds when you flush your toilets. Water may be slow to drain in sinks, bathtubs, and showers. If you notice any of these symptoms, call a professional, who will complete additional testing and diagnose the problem before it gets out of hand.
You can do your part to prevent sewer backup all year round. Be mindful of what you are putting down your drains (or toilets). Don’t dispose of items that could cause any sort of blockage, like grease. If you don’t have a sump pump, install one and ensure it is working correctly. Make sure snow isn’t piling up on sewer vents, as it can create a blockage. You can help prevent sewer gases from entering your home by adding water to infrequently used drains, like the ones in your basement. You’ll also want to take measures to ensure your sewer vent doesn’t freeze. Don’t disrupt the septic system by flushing down chemicals or bacteria; it may interrupt the production of necessary bacteria and lead to leaks.
If a sewer leak does happen, not all is lost. We treat your home and personal belongings with the best care throughout the sewer backup cleanup process to restore items to their pre-loss condition if possible. Quality control is something we take very seriously.