Back to Blog

6 Signs of a Clogged Drain or Sewer Line & What to Do

post img

Every homeowner’s biggest nightmare is dealing with a plumbing issue hiding deep within their drain system and sewer line.

Clogged drains can be a nuisance, but a clogged sewer line can lead to a host of unpleasant problems and can cause significant and costly damage to your home if left untreated. Recognizing the signs early can save you from extensive repairs and hefty bills.

In this blog, the plumbing professionals at Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Cooling discuss six common signs of a clogged drain system or sewer line and what you should do if you suspect a blockage in your plumbing system.

What Is the Difference Between Drains and Sewer Lines?

Although drains and sewer lines may seem synonymous to homeowners, they’re different components of your plumbing system.  

Drains are part of your plumbing system that removes sewage or wastewater (liquid waste produced by people) from your home, such as when you flush your toilet, take a shower, or wash dishes in your kitchen sink. Did you know that the average person contributes between 80 and 100 gallons of wastewater and sewage daily?

Sewage and wastewater running through your home’s drains connect to the main line, which is also known as a sewer line. This is the pipe that connects your home to the municipal sewer system or home septic tank.

To summarize, your drain system is inside your home and your sewer system is outside your home, but if you have problems with either system, they can show similar warning signs.

6 Signs Your Drain Is Clogged or Sewer Line Is Blocked

Clogged drains and blocked sewer lines aren’t always obvious, but there are common signs that you should monitor before the issue leads to more serious and costly repairs or replacements. These common signs include:

Sewage Backups

Sewage backups are one of the most obvious signs of a clogged drain or blocked sewer line. If you notice sewage backing up into your plumbing fixtures, such as toilets, tubs, or sinks, it’s a clear indication that your sewer line is blocked.

Sewage backups can occur at any point in your sewage line but often occur in the lowest open drain. They’re a serious health hazard, as they can expose you to harmful bacteria and contaminants. It’s important to address this issue immediately by calling a plumbing professional, as leaving it alone can result in costly repairs and significant damage.

Slow Drainage

If you’ve noticed it takes longer than usual to drain water from your sinks, bathtubs, or showers, a clogged drain or backed-up sewer line may be to blame.

When debris builds up in your drains and sewer line, it restricts water flow, causing it to drain slowly. This can occur in multiple fixtures around your home and could indicate a more significant blockage in the main sewer line rather than an isolated issue in one drain.

Foul Odors

Foul odors emanating from your drains or around your home can strongly indicate a clogged drain or blocked sewer line. When the sewer line is blocked, the sewage has nowhere to go and can start to decompose, releasing unpleasant, sulfuric smells.

These odors can seep through your drains and even permeate your yard, making it unpleasant and even unsafe to be around your home.

Strange Noises

If you hear strange noises, such as gurgling or bubbling in your toilet, shower drain, or sink, it may indicate a problem with your drain and sewer systems.

When a drain or sewer line is clogged or blocked, air gets trapped and pushes back on the water, which is the path of least resistance. If your toilet makes a bubbling sound when you flush, there’s likely a clog deeper in the pipeline.

Standing Sewage

Standing sewage in your yard or around your property is a severe sign of a clogged sewer line. This happens when the clog is significant enough to cause sewage to overflow and pool in your yard, which can happen whether your home is connected to a septic tank or municipal sewer system.

Standing sewage poses a health risk and can damage your landscaping and contaminate the soil. It’s important to address this problem promptly to prevent further damage and potential health hazards.

Cleanout Pipe

Your sewage system contains a sewer cleanout pipe, which is an external access point to your sewer system. If you notice standing waste inside your cleanout pipe, it could indicate a blockage in your system or possible pipe bellies in the sewage line.

When sewer lines become too blocked, sewage can become trapped inside the cleanout pipe, indicating the need for professional intervention.

Common Causes of Drain Clogs and Sewer Line Blockages

We’ve already covered some telltale signs that your drains are clogged or the sewer line is blocked, but it’s important to understand what caused this issue in the first place.

Understanding the common causes of severe drain clogs and sewer line blockages can help prevent this problem from occurring in your home and on your property, leading to costly repairs. Here are six typical culprits to watch out for:

  • Outside debris: Tree roots naturally seek moisture and water sources, and your sewer line can be an attractive target. Roots can infiltrate small cracks in the pipes and expand, causing significant blockages or even pipe collapse over time. Dirt and other foreign debris can also clog drains and sewer lines over time, resulting in blockages. To avoid root damage, note where your sewer lines are located and try to avoid planting anything near that area.
  • Grease buildup: Pouring grease down your drains can lead to serious blockages. As grease cools, it solidifies and sticks to pipe walls, gradually narrowing the passage until it becomes completely blocked. Pouring grease into a jar and disposing of it is safer than pouring it directly down your drain. Other food waste can also potentially clog the drain, so be sure to only use a garbage disposal for foods that can be safely broken up.
  • Foreign objects: Items like sanitary napkins, wipes, toys, or other debris can cause clogs if flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain. These items don’t break down easily and can obstruct the wastewater flow.
  • Pipe bellies: Over time, shifting soil can cause sections of the sewer line to sag, creating low spots known as bellies. These bellies can collect debris and cause blockages as wastewater flow is impeded.
  • Failing to rinse a sink: When soap scum, food, minerals, or personal hygiene products such as toothpaste or makeup slowly moves down a drain, it can cause buildup. Fully wash your sink with hot water frequently.
  • Corrosion: Older sewer lines, particularly those made from clay, cast iron, or galvanized steel, can corrode over time due to metal oxidation. This corrosion can create rough surfaces that trap debris, leading to blockages or even burst pipes.

Performing Regular Drain Maintenance

Regular maintenance on your drains can help in the long run when you’re trying to avoid problems with your plumbing and sewer systems. A few steps you can take to maintain your sewer and water lines include:

  • Cleaning drains: Although many people believe that pouring boiling water down the drain can help, water that is too hot can actually damage your piping. Pouring an enzyme-based solution down your drain once a week can help break down any leftover grease or foreign particles that may be stuck.
  • Installing strainers or traps: Installing inexpensive fixtures on your sinks and showers can help to catch foreign items and reduce the impact of debris such as hair or soap scum building up in the drain.
  • Clearing out your traps regularly: If necessary, you can use an auger or similar cleaning device to avoid excess buildup in the drain.
  • Checking the air vents on your roof for clogs: If the air vents in your home get clogged, sewer gasses can back up into your system and cause toxic fumes or smells to form, which can be unpleasant and even dangerous.

What to Do if You Suspect a Clogged Drain or Sewer Line Blockage

If you suspect your drains are clogged or your sewer line is blocked, taking immediate action is important to prevent further damage. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Stop using water: Avoid using water in your home to prevent further sewage backups and reduce the risk of water damage.
  • Check your cleanout: Locate your sewer cleanout (but note that not every home has one), which is typically a white, round pipe with a cap outside your home. Removing the cap helps release pressure and temporarily alleviates the blockage. However, calling a professional is strongly recommended instead of removing the clean cap yourself due to the potential health hazards, EPA guidelines, and possibly causing further damage to your plumbing system.
  • Call a professional: It’s important to contact a licensed plumber to inspect and clear the blockage. Professional plumbers, such as the experts at Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, have the tools and expertise to diagnose and resolve the problem. They can use fiber optic cable cameras to assess the issue, along with hydro jetting or snaking methods to remove the clog and prevent future issues.

Trust Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Cooling for Your Sewer Line Clog Removal Needs

If you think your drain and sewer systems are suffering from a severe clog or blockage, the team at Pipe Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is here to help.

Voted the best plumbing company 7 years in a row in Knoxville, TN, we’re uniquely capable of delivering the exceptional drain clearing and sewer line solutions you need to quickly regain normal use of your wastewater systems. We understand the urgency of fixing your drain and sewer line blockage, so we offer same-day service guaranteed, or the visit is free.

We’ve served more than 30,000 customers with expert home service solutions and the finest products and materials, and we’re confident in our team’s ability to quickly and efficiently resolve even the toughest drain or sewer line clog.

Don’t let stubborn blockages keep you from enjoying safety and functionality in your home. Contact our team to book a drain or sewer line clog removal in Knoxville today.

Request Service Voted Knoxville's Best Plumbing
& HVAC Company!

Sidebar

Our Services


Plumbing

Sewer & Drain

Water Heaters

Heating & Cooling

You Are Our #1 Priority

Locally Owned & Operated

We are proud to continue our decades-long tradition of serving our neighbors throughout the area.

Female Led

Our exceptional leadership focuses on customer service and reliable results for all your plumbing and HVAC needs.

Trusted Plumbing & HVAC Expertise

As active members of Nexstar Network, our team receives cutting-edge training in the latest industry practices.

Same-Day Service Guaranteed

Don’t wait until tomorrow. With our same-day service, we’ll be there when you need us.

Finest Products & Materials Available in the Industry

We deliver unmatched craftsmanship and products for solutions you can depend on for years to come.

Commitment to Community

As a proud member of the Knoxville community, we are invested in the comfort and well-being of our residential and commercial neighbors.

Locally Owned & Operated

We are proud to continue our decades-long tradition of serving our neighbors throughout the area.

Female Led

Our exceptional leadership focuses on customer service and reliable results for all your plumbing and HVAC needs.

Trusted Plumbing & HVAC Expertise

As active members of Nexstar Network, our team receives cutting-edge training in the latest industry practices.

Same-Day Service Guaranteed

Don’t wait until tomorrow. With our same-day service, we’ll be there when you need us.

Finest Products & Materials Available in the Industry

We deliver unmatched craftsmanship and products for solutions you can depend on for years to come.

Commitment to Community

As a proud member of the Knoxville community, we are invested in the comfort and well-being of our residential and commercial neighbors.