What Is the Difference Between Back-Ups and Backflow?

Dirty backflow water in bathtub

We've all been there. Something is causing your drains to drain slowly, or you notice brown water coming out of your faucet. Whatever the plumbing-related issue, it can sometimes be challenging to decipher the actual problem. Is it backed-up pipes? Or is dirty water allowed back into your system due to backflow? This now raises the question: what's the difference between the two? Our experts are here to give some helpful insight. This blog will explain the difference between back-ups and backflow and discuss the causes and prevention of both.

The Difference Between Back-Ups and Backflow


Back-ups are caused by a clog or blockage in the pipes. This prevents water from flowing freely through the drains into your sewage system. The water has nowhere to go but up! You definitely don't want that. Not only is it gross, but it can also cause severe damage to your home. When the blockage intensifies, it can cause your pipes to become weak and eventually crack. Cracked pipes will allow water to seep into other areas of your home, sometimes without you noticing, and causing severe damage.

The water coming from the pipes will cause damage not only to your home and valuables inside but also to your health. It can damage drywall, flooring, the foundation, and even valuable electronics. If left unattended, the increased moisture will allow mold to grow, which poses a severe health risk.

Causes of Back-Ups

  • Tree roots
  • Grease build-up
  • Aging pipes
  • Food build-up


Backflow occurs when dirty sewage water flows backward through the pipes and into your toilet, faucets, or bathtub. When this happens, contaminated water from the city's main line can flow backward into your home through your pipes. This dirty water can contain harmful contaminants, including sewage, chemicals, and pesticides. As you can imagine, this can cause serious health problems for you and your family if you're not careful.


Backflow can happen for many reasons, but it usually happens because of a change in pressure in the city's main water line. That change in pressure can be caused by a variety of factors, such as firefighting efforts, repairs being done on the main water line, heavy rainfall, or if there is a blockage in the main sewer line.


The best way to prevent backups and backflow is to have regular maintenance done on your plumbing system. This includes having your sewer line cleaned every few years and having a plumber inspect your drains and pipes for any signs of damage or blockages. Additionally, installing a backflow prevention device will assist in keeping your home safe. You should also avoid pouring grease down your kitchen sink and flushing anything other than toilet paper down your toilets.

Call The Professionals

If you are experiencing plumbing issues, our experts at Pine State Services have the experience and knowledge to properly identify and fix the problem. Call us at (207) 747-1210 or contact us online!

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