To prevent a back up of your sewer and drain system, it is helpful for property owners to be aware of what might cause a back up, and what preventative measures can be taken. Whether you are purchasing a new home, or have owned your property for several years, it can provide great benefit to have a professional inspect your plumbing system and give feedback. Aging plumbing systems could have pipe collapses, misaligned pipes, offset joints or tree roots that might be the cause of future back ups of sewage or black water into your home. If your property is networked into a municipal waste facility, the sewer and storm drain system may be combined. During periods of heavy precipitation you could be more likely to experience the back-up of black water into your home through your drains. A professional can provide preventative options such as sump pumps, backwater prevention valves, and repairs.

Some back ups may be caused by what you dispose of through your home drains. Cooking grease can solidify,  feminine hygiene products, paper towels, hair, and even hygiene wipes that are labled “flushable,” along with other types of debris can all cause blockages too large for the pipes that might result in sewage or wastewater back-flowing into your home.

Knowing where your sewer lines are can help you determine where to plant trees and shrubs, or when to cut tree roots if they are growing too close. Tree roots have proved to be the biggest cause of sewer back ups because they tend to cause blockage, crack, or break pipes.

Homeowners may want to consider placing appliances, furniture, and other valuable belongings further from the areas of your basement that would be first affected in the event of a back up.

Should you ever experience the back up of sewer water into your home, it is important for your peace of mind to know that you have proper coverage on your homeowner’s policy and know what steps you can take to minimize damage. You may want to review a copy of your homeowner’s policy to verify that the endorsement is added, or contact a customer account representative to review your coverages with you. The standard coverage limit for a homeowner’s policy ranges from $5,000-$10,000, but you may require more or less based on your individual risk.

When you have the endorsement added to your homeowner’s policy, it will help compensate for the cost of cleanup, repair, or replacement to home and personal property such as carpet or tile flooring, walls, drapes, furniture, and other damaged items. Our goal is always to assist our customers restore their home to its state prior to the loss.

Ways to minimize damage during an event-

  • Pump out any excess water.
  • Remove all wet items from the affected area.
  • If sewage affects appliances such as furnaces, washer, and dryers, contact a reputable repair service to remove motors for drying.
  • Wash down concrete or tile floors with fresh water and wash with a strong germ and odor killing solution.
  • Items inside a wet box should be removed and dried. Discard the contaminated box.
  • Wood furniture should be thoroughly dried, wiped, and polished.
  • Wet paper items should be disposed of if they aren’t of value, otherwise place outside to dry.
  • Dry the basement or affected area through ventilation. Use a floor fan and a dehumidifier.
  • Protect your family and prevent illness by taking extra precautions to prevent transporting bacteria and viruses from the black water throughout your house. Promptly wash shoes and clothing that has come in contact with the sewage.

Our claims team can assist your with contacting local clean-up and restorations service providers. It is helpful during the claims process if you can provide photographs of what your home looked like prior to the loss, and photos of the damages as well. Always save receipts for cleaning and repair.

— Tanna Kampen