Just like your home’s pipes and roof, your sewer system doesn’t catch much of a break in the winter. The cold weather in our state can create some unique sewer issues that may have you running for warmer weather. And while sewage back-ups in Denver are no fun (and often require clean-up by a home restoration or construction company), understanding what to look for in the winter and how to solve or prevent future problems is important. The following are two common winter-related sewage issues:
- Problem: In the winter, trees have to work harder to find water and nutrients in the frozen ground. So while it appears the trees have gone into hibernation, in reality their roots are alive and growing. And there’s nothing as tempting for them as a sewer line, which is filled with warm sludge and causes water vapor to evaporate into the soil around the pipes. The tree roots reach down for the source of this moisture and grow along the vapor path to the joints in the pipes where the moisture escapes. The roots grow quickly into the pipes, eventually forming a root ball, and ultimately causing the sewer to back up into your house.
- Solution: One way to treat the problem yourself is to apply a tree-friendly herbicide that will stop root growth but not harm the tree. You can purchase this product and apply it during any time of the year. However, with excessive root growth, you may need to call in a professional who can use special equipment to unclog the pipes, as well as deal with the sewage back-up itself. You can also learn how to prevent winter sewer problems from tree roots when planting in the spring.
Frozen sewer vent stack
- Problem: One of the tell-tale signs of a winter sewer problem is that rotten-egg smell emanating from your bathroom(s), an indication that your sewer vent stack—usually located on your roof—may have frozen over after a number of cold days in a row. Sewer gas condenses and freezes inside the stack’s opening so that it’s no longer able to vent the sewer gas and equalize the pressure in your home’s drain lines. Once it freezes shut, the gas has nowhere to go and makes its way back into your house.
- Solution: The quick fix is to get on the roof and knock the ice free from the vent, or to pour hot water into the vent to melt the ice. If the problem is persistent every year, you can even insulate the vent stack as it travels through your attic, or install electric heat tape between the stack and the insulation, taking care to check for and follow fire codes. As always, be very careful when getting onto your roof in the winter, and consider hiring a professional if you need to. But whatever you do, address the problem as quickly as possible since the gas can be toxic to breathe.
Nubilt Construction is your go-to home restoration service when Denver sewage back-ups occur, or any other winter-related issue that causes water damage to your home. Call us at 303-368-4688 for 24/7 emergency response.