Sewer Backup Causes and Prevention Tips from Mr. Rooter Plumbing of San Antonio, TX

A toilet filled with dirty water because of a sewer backup in San Antonio, TX
Nobody treats their plumbing systems better than homeowners themselves. That is because they know their home the best, whether they built it themselves or have lived there for a very long time. At this point, your pipes are likely working in your favour, serving you every day and facilitating your daily routine. Everything smells clean and fresh until unexpected heavy rainfall wreaks havoc on your property and causes a sewer backup in the basement.

This is when a property owner realizes that there are more preventive measures to take to properly protect their home from unforeseen circumstances. While we fully agree with you on this one, there are still situations that are not within your or our control to stop them from happening; however, we can do our best to reduce dangers and damage severity.

In the event of a sewer backing up, our expert San Antonio plumber at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of San Antonio is dedicated to quality workmanship and courteous customer care. Our entire team aims to ensure your plumbing system is in working order so that you can continue to live in a safe and comfortable environment, free from toxic gases and chemicals. Our uniformed experts are fully licensed, insured, bringing many years of experience in maintaining local pipework systems and repairing minor to major plumbing issues.

We always think outside the box, ensuring our clients that preventative maintenance doesn’t only occur in their homes but outside as well. Keep on reading to learn more about how household habits and nature affect your pipes and quality of life.

What Is a Sewer Backup?

All your drain lines that connect to plumbing fixtures and drain hoses that are attached to your appliances (dishwasher, washing machine) direct wastewater straight to your home’s sewer lateral which is located below your home or below your yard. A backup occurs when your sewer main is clogged and unable to push liquid or solid waste away from your property into the city sewer main. If your sewer is backing up, it doesn’t usually happen overnight unless natural events like soil shifting, or tree roots are the culprits. Instead, clogs build up over time, during which your drainage pipes will still do their best to keep up with performance. In the meantime, you’ll deal with clogged sinks, slow drains, and backed-up toilets which may not seem like a huge problem until they keep coming back and each time in a nastier fashion than before. This indicates that your sewer lateral is experiencing high pressure. As a result, it starts sending sewage water back into your home via the drain lines.

How Do I Know My Sewer Is Backing Up?

San Antonio homeowners who treat the odd backed-up toilet with a plunger or an auger may not think they have much to worry about. There's a lot more to how you treat your drainage system at home. You could be treating your plumbing system conscientiously with a water softener, annual drain cleaning services, and other maintenance appointments to ensure you won’t ever be plagued by a plumbing disaster caused by you or other people in your household.

How long ago was your last toilet backup? Have you noticed anything else out of the ordinary? Perhaps someone in your household has noticed slow draining after a shower or foul Odors and sink flies in the kitchen. Your first thought might be to solve these issues with a drain snake, clean the p-trap, or use white vinegar and baking soda to flush away that nasty smell. But all these efforts are in vain if suddenly your floor drain backs up. Here's the ultimate warning sign of your sewer backing up. San Antonio homeowners are advised not to flush or wash anything down their sinks and call their local plumbing technician for a professional investigation.

Two Types of Sewer Backup Causes

The reason why we break this into two categories is so it will give you a better understanding of what you can control and what you cannot. As a homeowner, you would do anything to protect your home and family, but there is an incident where control is the least of your priority, and the most important thing becomes you and your family.

What You Can Control:

This is an important checklist that our expert plumbers have put together to help you organize your routine maintenance services. While there is a lot that you and the people in your household can do to stay on top of your plumbing, some tasks will require a certified technician.

F.O.G. Management:

F.O.G. stands for fat, oils, and grease. While it is a plumber’s biggest nightmare to see anyone wash hot grease down the drain, we realized how crucial it is to educate homeowners about the do’ s and don’ts in the kitchen and bathroom. The main reason for your sewer backing up comes down to what goes down your sink. We trust that you are aware of this problem; however, not everyone in your household might. Whether someone has been cooking bacon in the oven or used too much oil in the frying pan, you might have experienced a plumber shouting, “No!” as they watch someone wash fat and grease down the kitchen sink. When it’s too late, you might see the plumber run hot water for a few minutes. Why? To ensure that grease will flow straight into the sewer lateral without settling in your drain line. Otherwise, once cooled, fat and grease will solidify and stick to your pipe walls, attracting more substances to stick along with them. (This doesn’t mean it’s healthy for your sewer lateral either.) With how hard San Antonio’s water is, most residents deal with hard mineral deposits damaging their pipes. If you combine this issue with oil and grease, you will increase your chances of your sewer backing up.

Pro Tip: Collect any oils and fats in a can, wait for them to solidify, and throw it out in the trash. Use a sink strainer to catch food waste that you can easily toss in your compost bin. To protect your pipes from mineral buildup, schedule routine drain cleaning services at least once a year. Your trusted plumber will inspect your pipework at the same time. Alternatively, installing a water softener will help minimize calcium and magnesium buildup.

Toilet Management:

Your toilet is designed to only flush toilet paper and human waste because it's quickly dissolvable. Unfortunately, it's a misconception that "flushable" wipes and Kleenex tissues can go down the drain as well, but they can't. Studies show that these are some of the main culprits that are causing backups and other problems at the city wastewater treatment plants and could increase your risks of having a sewer backup in the basement.

Pro Tip: To better protect your waste lines, do not flush tissues, wipes, sanitary napkins, or tooth floss. Knowing that your toilet likely shares the same drain lines as your other bathroom drains (shower and bathtub), protect those with a sink drain or hair catcher.


Older homes will likely have an outdated pipework system that causes frequent issues due to decreased functionality. If you have received numerous plumbing repair services in the past, it’s probably time to replace your entire pipework before you experience your sewer backing up into your house. Aging sewer pipes and drainpipes are prone to corrosion and could end up in a collapse.

Tree Roots:

You might think you can’t control how your tree grows, but there are ways to protect sewer lines from intrusive tree roots seeking water. If you have multiple large trees in your area, a thorough inspection will determine how susceptible your sewer lines are to an infiltration problem. Suppose those trees are dear to you, and you wouldn’t want to remove them. In that case, our expert plumber could install tree root barriers and could discuss with your other potential options to protect your pipes.

What You Can’t Control:

We understand if you don’t like the idea of not being able to control certain dangers, especially if they pose a health hazard and could compromise your home’s structural integrity. The truth is nobody can. However, there are ways to ease the severity of geological and climatic activities, so not all hope is gone.

Soil Shifting:

Texas has loamy soil which is primarily alkaline clay. It is reactive to changing temperatures and, therefore, soil shifting is a frequent occurrence that every residential and commercial property owner is aware of. For that reason, you will rarely notice any basements or underground levels in San Antonio. Home foundation failures happen and so can slab leaks. If the soil movement is too drastic, it can also lead to your sewer backing up. San Antonio property owners could also experience a sewer collapse. Moreover, the breach in your sewer pipe will lead to a failure in disposing of wastewater to the municipal sewer, causing your sewer to back up your plumbing fixtures.


In the event of heavy rainfall, a flood occurs and could overwhelm the city’s sanitary sewer and storm sewer systems. Although the City of San Antonio does its best to maintain the city sewer, disastrous flash flooding can wreak more havoc than you’re prepared for.

Pro Tip: Our professional plumbers offer our clients two useful plumbing devices to protect their property from floods.

  1. Backwater Valve Installation: Backwater valves are flood control systems that are integral to preventing flooding disasters in homes. It's typically installed underneath your basement floor on your sewer pipe, where it serves its purpose. The key functions are the protective valve and cleanout. Its backflow mechanism can detect an overflow and will immediately close the flap to prevent an in-house flood.
  2. Sump Pump Installation: A sump pump installation occurs at the lowest level of your home. The construction involves a man-made sump pit where the actual sump pump is placed. This device has valve sensors that detect rising levels within your home and around its perimeter, where the weeping tile is installed to protect your foundation from excess stormwater. Once the water reaches a certain level, the sump pit will force excess water through a discharge pipe. It requires routine maintenance to ensure the switch always works flawlessly.

The good news is that as long as you have taken all the precautions you can to protect your family and property and the municipality is responsible for their sewer line backup, there is a high chance that your insurance company will be of great assistance to you, along with flood recovery programs offered by the City of San Antonio.

Top Signs of Sewer Backing Up in San Antonio TX

  • Recurring clogged drains during which excessive plunging and snaking won’t solve the problem.
  • A leaky cleanout (also known as a sewer trap) indicates a backed-up sewer line. If you don’t know where your cleanout is, we recommend looking for it in your property’s lowest level, crawl space, or front yard. The cleanout is the ultimate gateway for your licensed plumber to access your sewer line.
  • Sewer backing up into various areas in your home.
  • Neighbors talking about sewer backing up. San Antonio residents who learn that their neighbours are affected can easily assume that the city is responsible for this situation.

What To Do When Your Sewer Backs Up

During a severe sewer backup, such as raw sewage around your floor drain, we recommend not undertaking any DIY solutions on your own. Instead, warn everyone in your household and stop using any plumbing fixtures for the time being. Turn off your water supply lines, and power should the situation worsen.

Next, give your local emergency plumber a call and report this plumbing emergency immediately. Notify the municipality about your situation and check if they might be responsible for it. If so, what safety guidelines do you need to follow?

When you have ensured everyone's safety, getting in touch with your insurance broker about homeowners' insurance is an important step in figuring out who is in charge of paying for the cleanup and damages caused.

Is Your Sewer Backing Up in San Antonio? Trust Mr. Rooter to Handle It!

Mr. Rooter Plumbing of San Antonio provides quality service with effective results, using advanced technology for your plumbing solutions. We are available 24/7 for any emergency needs, so you can rest assured that you won't ever have to wait in line for service. We're dedicated to helping residents of San Antonio and nearby communities, including Boerne, Converse, and Universal City.

If you need a trusted San Antonio plumber for burst pipe repair or other popular plumbing services, call us today to speak with one of our friendly customer service representatives.