Sewer Backup Causes


Household sewer blockages can occur at any point in the sewer line, from P-traps immediately attached to sink or tub drainhole, to pipes spanning to areas deep inside the sewer line where only a long sewer snake (auger) will reach the backup. Prevention --- always the best measure in helping stop blockage occurrences --- requires you to understand the initial causes.


  • Pouring hot animal fat down the drain is a major cause of sewer backup. As the grease cools (especially if you pour cold liquid into the drain immediately after the grease), it attaches itself to the walls of the sewer pipe. Other objects flowing down through the drain then stick to the grease, which in turn creates a blockage.

Tree Roots

  • Though most sewer lines are made of PVC or ABS hard plastic, the coupling joints over time can weaken, and the tips of tree roots may push their way into the sewer line in their search for water. When waste travels down the pipe, it becomes caught in the roots and a blockage occurs. Never plant trees with deep roots close to underground sewer lines.

Toilet Paper

  • When you use too much toilet paper at one time, it can easily becomes stuck in the toilet bowl's bends or around the closet flange area --- the section of the sewer line attached to the floor above which the toilets sits. This scenario tends to occur even more so if the toilet and sewer line are older. Using only an adequate amount of toilet paper is an easy prevention, though the use of an auger can remedy the blockage.

Foreign Objects

  • Small foreign objects such as toy cars or hair pins can easily flush down toilets or even drop down sink drain holes. Once these objects meet a bend in the sewer line, they become stuck, and sewer waste in turn sticks to the object. With small children in the home, always have locks on toilet lids and keep bathroom doors closed at all times when immediate adult supervision is not possible.

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