How to Prepare for El Niño: Managing Sewer Lines

How will El Niño Affect Sewer Lines?

El Niño’s storm systems have the potential to wreak havoc on your sewer lines. If El Niño brings rain to the Bay Area this winter, flooding and sewer backups are likely to happen; if your drains and sewers aren’t clean, you could have ugly plumbing issues. Storms and clogged drains are a bad mix, as excess ground water could exacerbate existing sewer line and plumbing issues and cause property damage. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and avoid flood and backflow damage by getting your sewer lines inspected and cleaned before the storms hit.

In this post, learn how to properly prepare for El Niño by managing your sewer line this winter.

What does El Niño Mean for the Bay Area this Winter?

El Niño is tracking to be a big one this year, with Federal Forecasters predicting a 95% chance of the phase existing through the winter. A strong jet stream and elevated Pacific Ocean temperatures will likely bring storms and heavy rains to the Bay Area this winter and San Francisco and Oakland can expect a very wet early 2016.

No one has a weather crystal ball, but if this year’s El Niño is anything like 1997’s El Niño, the Bay Area could see near-record rainfalls with 20-30 inches of rain accumulating between January and February. Heavy rains mean potential drainage issues, and that means Bay Area residents need to prepare their sewer lines to avoid potential complications and property damage.

What Could Cause Problems with a Sewer Line?

It has been a particularly dry year, so soil is much drier than usual, and has expanded and contracted, causing pipe movement and potential breakage. Droughts drive tree root systems to dig deeper, straight into faulty sewer pipes and drains. Additional debris is likely to have accumulated in sewer pipes. Combine a clogged pipe with excess ground water seeping in through cracks, and the result could be less water flow to the sewer main during heavy rains, and incorrect backflow of sewage water into your plumbing system. This is why broken or clogged sewer lines and drains lead to back-ups, which could mean potential flooding of indoor living spaces, landscaping, streets, driveways, even your neighbors’ lawns, and high costs to clean up spills and fix damage.

sewer line inspection will reveal potential drainage problems from cracks, roots and debris, and help you avoid dealing with raw sewage and damage from El Niño flooding.

When Should You Get Sewer Lines Inspected to Prepare for El Niño?

It’s important to address sewer line maintenance issues before El Niño brings the heavy rains. This fall is a great time to get your sewer lines serviced before the wetter winter months.  If your sinks, toilets, showers or outdoor drains are pooling water or are slow to drain, you likely have a problem. Also be aware of smells and sounds coming from drain pipes, as they could indicate blockages.

Unfortunately, you can’t necessarily rely on these telltale signs of sewer line blockage, as structural damage is often not verifiable without a video inspection. Don’t wait until after the storms arrive to get your sewer lines inspected and serviced.

How to Get Sewers Inspected and Cleaned

Pipe Spy has the best sewer technicians and the right cameras and tools to inspect and clean your sewer line drain pipes. The best way to manage your sewer line during El Niño is to get an inspection to identify clogs, cracks or breakages, and then follow up with low cost sewer line maintenance, if needed. If our inspection identifies bigger problems than minor blockage, we’ll present you with the option of a full trenchless sewer lateral replacement.

If you find that your sewer lines are not clogged or damaged, you’ll have peace of mind as we move into the wet winter months. Schedule your sewer line inspection with Pipe Spy today, to avoid potential future sewer line issues and be prepared for El Niño this winter.