How Sewage Backs Up Into Your Home

The sanitary sewer system carries waste water from sinks, toilets and bathtubs to the treatment plant. When a line is blocked, raw sewage backs up into homes and businesses, causing unpleasant and dangerous conditions. We are able to serve our customers in a variety of ways because we are a dependable business that offers services as the Delaware County plumbers locals require. 

You can help prevent clogs by taking care of what goes into your drain lines. Here are some things that should never be flushed:

Fats and Grease

Fats, oils and grease (FOG) poured down kitchen drains or garbage disposals cause costly sewer line blockages. These hard-to-clean blockages restrict wastewater flow and lead to sewage backups in homes and businesses, and untreated sewage overflows onto streets, parks and yards. The cost of FOG cleanup and repair is passed on to all customers through higher utility rates.

When poured down kitchen drains, FOG cools and sticks to household pipes and the inner walls of sewer pipes. This creates layers of grease that restrict the flow of wastewater. The layer of grease can also trap other waste, causing it to back up into the home or business.

FOG can also contaminate local waterways when it washes into rivers, creeks and lakes. The City works closely with local environmental groups to prevent this contamination from occurring.

Several options for properly disposing of kitchen grease exist. Businesses that prepare food for sale can use an on-site grease interceptor or grease trap to store cooking oil and grease until it solidifies. Foodservice establishments that do not have an on-site grease management system can deposit cooking oil and grease into a lidded coffee can or other disposable container for disposal in the trash.

Residential homeowners can use disposable towels to wipe fats, oils and grease from pots, pans and utensils prior to washing them. For dishes that are too large to be wiped, homeowners should scrape the grease into the trash and not down a sink drain. Homeowners should also use a strainer or screen in their sink to catch and dispose of food scraps rather than putting them down the sink.

Residents can also recycle discarded cooking oil and grease by placing it in a lidded can with an absorbent material, such as sawdust or cat litter, until it solidifies. Then, the absorbed fats and oils can be placed into the trash for disposal. Lastly, many homeowners have been able to successfully compost organic grease and oil in their yard’s organic pile. However, if you choose to compost, it is important that you aerate and stir the pile regularly to speed up decomposition.

Paper Towels

Paper towels are a common household item used to dry hands and clean up spills. These disposable towels are also used for wiping windows and other surfaces, dusting, and scrubbing sticky messes. They are usually made from recycled material and are available in two-ply or single-ply options. Two-ply paper towels are thicker and more absorbent than single-ply ones. Some are designed with small crevices that scrub away stuck on dirt and debris. Unlike cloth towels, which can be washed and reused, paper towels are designed to be used only once and are usually thrown away after each use.

Because paper towels are not biodegradable, they can cause problems in your sewer system if flushed down the toilet. This can lead to clogged pipes and wastewater backups. In addition, paper towels can also stick together and form large balls that block sewage lines. These balls can then mix with other non-dissolvable items like baby wipes, tampon applicators, and condoms to create a gruesome blockage that requires expensive removal and cleanup.

Although some manufacturers claim their paper towels are "flushable" or "septic safe," this is a flat-out lie. These products can cause blockages in your sewage pipes, and many cities around the world spend millions of dollars on cleaning up major clogs caused by these wipes and other non-dissolvable items that people flush down their toilets.

Paper towel clogs are most commonly caused by flushing these towels down the toilet along with other items that should never be disposed of in this manner, such as diapers and condoms. These items are then carried away by the wastewater system, where they can join up with other trash that should never be in the sewer, including pet waste, grease, and food scraps.

Fortunately, there are more eco-friendly alternatives to traditional paper towels that you can purchase in grocery stores. Some are compostable, and others can be washed and re-used up to 120 times before they need to be thrown away. Kitchen + Home Bamboo Towels are an excellent option for those looking to avoid purchasing and disposing of paper towels that may cause a sewer clog.

Hygiene Products

Sewage contains harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause disease. If sewage backs up into your home, direct contact and breathing in the contaminants can lead to illnesses including Hepatitis A, Gastroenteritis and E. Coli. In addition, sewage can damage floors, walls and furniture. When a municipal sewer issue occurs, contact the municipality as soon as possible.

You should keep a supply of personal hygiene products on hand in the event of an emergency. This includes toilet paper, soap, shampoo, hair conditioner and sanitary supplies like tampons and sanitary pads. Hand sanitizer is also important to keep on hand to promote proper cleaning and germ control.

Disposable wipes, even those labeled as "flushable" can cause major problems when flushed down toilets. These wipes do not readily "disperse" as toilet paper does and instead clog homeowner plumbing and put stress on community wastewater collection and treatment equipment. This increases operations and maintenance costs for your utility. Also, if these products clog, you may need to hire a professional plumber and clean up the mess in your home. Avoid these costly issues by following simple guidelines for keeping your sewer system in working order. Never pour grease down sink drains or down the toilet, and only use the toilet for human waste and toilet paper.


The wastewater that leaves your home goes down toilets, through showers and sinks, into bathtubs and washing machines. From there it flows into the sewer and, when it reaches a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP), is cleaned up enough to be safely returned to nature. The wastewater treatment process removes bacteria, chemicals and other harmful substances. However, some solids remain in the wastewater and are left as a thick sludge called biosolids.

When these biosolids are not treated properly they can become a health hazard. They can also contribute to sewage system failure, leading to raw sewage backups into homes and businesses and flow onto private property, streets and local surface waters. The WWTP can also be affected by fats, oils and grease, which can cause clogs in the sewer lines. These blockages are costly to clean and can lead to health hazards.

Small items that are flushed down drains or toilets can also cause wastewater build up. Dental floss, rubber bands, twist ties, hair and cigarette butts can get caught in the drain and accumulate with other debris, creating a clog. This can affect the flow of wastewater and increase the amount of water required to treat the wastewater.

Wastewater systems in rural areas and campgrounds use septic tanks to separate human waste and solids from wastewater. The liquid portion of the wastewater is disposed of through a leach field where natural soil acts as a filter to prevent contaminants from seeping into groundwater. However, septic tanks can fail due to misuse and improper maintenance of the tank and the surrounding septic field.

Septic tank failure can result from pouring chemicals down a toilet or drain; using the septic system for a kitchen garbage disposal; failing to maintain the leachfield; putting too much water into the septic system; and allowing animals to enter the septic tank. These activities can lead to a septic tank pumping emergency, which is expensive and hazardous.

Wastewater sludge is a thick, dark-colored material that contains many of the same constituents as the original wastewater. It can contain a wide range of pollutants, including heavy metals such as mercury, chromium, lead, arsenic and thallium; nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus; pesticides, hormones and herbicides; and microorganisms. The sludge may also contain human pathogens. In addition, restrictions on ocean disposal of biosolids have led to increased land application.

The sanitary sewer system carries waste water from sinks, toilets and bathtubs to the treatment plant. When a line is blocked, raw sewage backs up into homes and businesses, causing unpleasant and dangerous conditions. We are able to serve our customers in a variety of ways because we are a dependable business that offers services…