A backup in your home's main drain can be cause to panic. In homes with a basement, this problem is usually quite obvious when the water starts flowing into the basement. The following guide can help you understand the common scenarios that result in this issue.
The most common cause is a clogged drain, typically caused when things are sent down toilets that should have gone in the trash instead. Feminine hygiene products and diapers are usual culprits, although wads of paper, food, packaging, and even toys could end up in the drain. If you have an open basement drain, it could also be things like dirt from sweeping or even pet hair that has lead to the clog.
If there are any trees or shrubs in your yard or in a nearby neighbor's yard, you have a likely clog culprit. Tree roots force their way through the small seams in drainpipes. They are seeking out the extra moisture and even nutrients that can be found in your home's waste water. As the roots grow, they create a major clog. Fortunately, the damage isn't usually permanent, and you can have the roots snaked out of the pipe. Then, you only have to put regular root killing treatments down the drain to prevent the problem from happening again.
Occasionally, a home has an old drainpipe or one that has simply become damaged. It then collapses or bends in a manner that won't allow the waste water to flow out properly, thus resulting in a clog. When this is the case, the only fix generally involves replacing the damaged section of pipe. The contractor will have to dig into the yard to remove the damaged area, and then a new pipe will be placed.
A backup isn't always the result of your drain pipe. Sometimes, there is a clog or obstruction in the main sewer pipe or where your home's pipe connects with the main. Often, this won't be your responsibility to fix, but you will need to contact the municipality to let them know there is a problem with the main near your home.
The simplest way to diagnose the cause of your backup is to bring in a plumber with a sewer pipe camera. They will send the camera down your drain so they can pinpoint the exact cause and the location of the clog. If you want to identify the problem before you bring a plumber in, you can also opt to rent a pipe camera yourself from rental companies like USA Borescopes.