Many residential plumbing problems can be worked around for a day or two if they occur outside of regular business hours. However, families who have to deal with a sewer backup will probably require a 24-hour emergency plumber. No toilets can be flushed nor any drains used until the problem is resolved. Otherwise, more contaminated water and possibly raw sewage will back up into the home.
The Root Cause
Sewer backups most commonly are caused by a combination of two factors. The first is tree roots growing into loose joints and cracks in the pipe. The second is people in the home flushing things that should not be sent down the sewer.
Plumbers recommend only flushing toilet paper and organic waste, but household residents sometimes tend to send many other non-disposable items to the sewer. Examples include tampons, dental floss, and paper towels. Those products may catch onto tree roots and accumulate there because they do not break down quickly or at all. Flushing hair from the shower strainer should also be avoided.
By flushing these various items down the drain, eventually, a blockage will develop. This may cause several gallons of water flushed from a toilet or discharged from the washing machine to back up from the sewer pipe.
One person might get by for a day or two, but the situation becomes much more problematic with additional people. Emergency service likely will be essential if there is only one available toilet and the residents can't count on using a neighbor's facilities until the next business day. You also probably don't want to bother your neighbor if someone needs relief at an inconvenient hour.
Households may feel embarrassed about needing an emergency service because of a sewer backup. They probably feel disgusted about the incident and don't like anybody else seeing the results, even a professional plumber. It may be of some comfort to realize that plumbers deal with this problem relatively frequently in residential settings. They're accustomed to providing this emergency service.
Resolving the Problem
Plumbers resolve the problem by running a snake tool with sharp blades into the pipe. The blades cut through invading roots so they wash away into the municipal sewer pipe under the street. After that, the household may have some floor cleaning to do, but your sewer pipe will finally be clear to use again.
If sewer backups occur every year or two, the plumber can provide annual maintenance service and cut roots before they cause problems. The home's residents must also be proactive and stop flushing anything that does not degrade quickly.