7 Signs Your Sewer Drain is Clogged
Most people don’t think too much about their drains. The water just seems to magically disappear down them whenever you run the shower or sink, or flush the toilet.
While that disappearing water might seem like magic, it isn’t. The main sewer drain is responsible for flushing all of the water out of the various drains in your home to a sewer system. This drain connects to every toilet, shower, sink, tub, washing machine, and another device that drains water. The main sewer drain serves a vital function, and should it become clogged, you could be looking at serious problems.
Know the signs of a clogged sewer drain will allow you to identify this plumbing emergency. Should you notice any of the following in your home, contact a professional plumber as soon as possible; ignoring the problem will lead to even greater problems in the very near future.
When a main sewer drain becomes clogged, issues with the toilets are probably the first thing you’ll notice. That’s because toilets have the largest drain line of all drains in a house, and they have the most direct path to the sewer.
Toilet issues associated with a main drain clog include slow emptying and bubbling. Also, instead of flushing, the water might back up into the toilet.
Slow Showers and Sinks
If the water is slow to drain down your showers and sinks, it could be a sign of a main sewer drain clog. When a clog in the main drain occurs, all other drains will be affected, including the showers and sinks.
If you’re standing in a pool of water while you’re showering or if the water is rising in your sink while you’re doing the dishes, try plunging or treating with a liquid clog remover; if these tactics don’t work, chances are there is a problem with your main drain.
If you notice any strange or particularly unpleasant and pungent odors coming from your drains, there’s a good chance that you have a clog in your main sewer drain. The smell might be earthy in nature, or it might smell like raw sewage. Either odor is a tell-tale sign of a clog.
When your main sewer drain is clogged, wastewater from your showers, sinks, toilets, and washing machine can get trapped in the plumbing. Since there’s nowhere for it to drain, the smell associated with the wastewater will eventually push its way up through the pipes, out through your drains, and into your home.
Backup in Several Fixtures
Clogs can happen in any fixture that drains water. If the clog is only affecting a particular fixture – a toilet, for example – the water will only back up into that fixture. However, if the problem is a clogged main sewer line, water will pass through the toilet and push its way through lower drains, such as a bathtub or a sink on a lower level.
Bubbling and Gurgling
Another sign of a clog in your main sewer drain is bubbling and gurgling.
When water flows through plumbing, air naturally gets trapped in it. However, you don’t notice that air because it doesn’t release itself until it reaches the sewer. If your sewer drain is clogged, that air can’t reach the sewer. Instead, it gets trapped in the pipes and eventually escapes through the drains and toilets in your home.
If the clog is really bad and has existed for a long period of time, sewage may start backing up into your drains. This happens when the water that you’ve been flushing gets trapped in the pipes and has nowhere to go (similar to the reason why you might notice a foul odor). As the water collects, it will eventually work its way back out of the pipes and exit through the drains. A sewage backup isn’t only a big mess; it’s also a serious health concern.
How do Main Sewer Drains Become Clogged?
There are a number of reasons why a main sewer drain can get clogged. Some of the most common causes include:
- Roots. As trees, bushes, and shrubs grow larger, so do their root systems. If these roots are located anywhere near your main sewer drain, they could push their way into the pipes and cause a clog.
- Flushing inappropriate items. If you’re flushing items down your toilet that you shouldn’t be, it’s very likely that your drain will eventually clog. The only things that should be flushed down a toilet include human waste and gentle toilet paper. Things that you should avoid flushing include feminine hygiene products, cotton swabs, cigarette butts, paper towels, and disposable toilet wand scrubs. Even if certain items are labeled as “safe to flush”, there’s a good chance that they will clog your drain.
- Using a garbage disposal. These appliances might seem convenient, but in reality, they can cause major inconveniences. Bones, grease, and large items that can’t break down easily can quickly clog your main drain. Even if the items seem like they would break down, over time, they can accumulate and cause a clog.
If you suspect you have a clog in your main sewer drain, call a licensed plumber as soon as possible. This is a major issue and one that should only be handled by a seasoned professional. The sooner the problem is addressed, the less damage your home will sustain – and the less money you’ll have to spend on repairs.