In life, there are good surprises and there are bad surprises. We’ve all had good surprises—old friends calling when we’re having a lousy day, finding $10 in a pair of jeans, or receiving the perfect gift on our birthdays. Sadly, we’ve all also had bad surprises, like cars that won’t start, rough days at work, and cutting into an avocado you think is ripe only to realize it isn’t.
In my biased expert opinion, one of the worst surprises you can get is sewage backing up into your toilets, mudroom sinks, or bathtub. I say biased because I’m a plumber so I’m always thinking of plumbing issues, but my hunch is that if it’s ever happened at your home, you probably agree with me that it is one of the very worst surprises there is.
In hopes of saving you from plumbing, pipe, and sewer surprises (which are never of the good sort), I want to talk a bit about three warning signs of a main sewer line clog. That way, if it happens in your home, you can catch it early and deal with it quickly. Easy to address home plumbing problems? Well, isn’t that a nice surprise!
Why Main Sewer Line Clogs Bubble Up
Sewer clogs and subsequent backups happen when there is an obstruction in the main sewer line that prevents the flow of sewer water. Believe it or not, intrusive tree roots are often the culprit. They can enter the sewer line through cracks or gaps, attract debris, and obstruct the flow. When this occurs, all the plumbing fixtures in the house will likely be affected, from sinks to showers to toilets.
Luckily, if you catch the problem early enough and call in a plumbing expert, you may be able to prevent widespread damage, minimize the cost of repairs, and, in most cases, avoid a complete sewer replacement.
If it weren’t bad enough to have raw, smelly sewer water backing up in your home, sewer clogs can also cause severe water damage in your home, costly repairs, or even the need for a sewer line replacement. Luckily, if you catch the problem early enough and call in a plumbing expert, you may be able to prevent widespread damage, minimize the cost of repairs, and, in most cases, avoid a complete sewer replacement.
The Three Warning Signs of a Main Sewer Line Clog
In order to spot a sewer pipe line blockage before it becomes a costly maintenance issue, let’s look at the three top warning signs of a main sewer line clog:
- Water backups into drains
- Multiple clogged drains throughout your home
- Standing sewage at your sewer cleanout
Water Backups: Main Sewer Line Clog Warning Sign #1
Do you ever notice that water backs up in your shower when you flush the toilet in the same bathroom? It’s pretty yucky, right? This happens when there is a clog in the sewer line and the flushed water can’t be eliminated. So, the water finds an alternative outlet, usually at the lowest point—which is most often your shower drain.
Drain Drama: Warning Sign #2 of a Main Sewer Line Clog
If you have multiple backed-up drains, drains throughout your house that are super sluggish, or drains that emit foul odors or make gurgling sounds, you’re experiencing drain drama. And unfortunately, drain drama of this sort usually means there is a sewer line clog somewhere in your plumbing system.
Standing Sewage at the Cleanout: Sign #3 Warning of a Main Sewer Line Clog
Your sewer cleanout is a capped pipe that can be opened in order to let you easily access the sewer line and address clogs as they occur. It is usually somewhere outside around the periphery of your home and will usually be black or white in color. Once you find it, you can carefully unscrew the cap to see if there is standing sewer water in the pipe. If there is, you’ve got a clog. Water flowing out of the cleanout pipe can also indicate a clog.
Why a Main Sewer Line Clog Repair Is Best Left to the Pros
If you do notice one or more of these signs of a main sewer line clog in your home, it’s a good idea to call a plumbing pro immediately. I would strongly suggest that you do not try and fix the problem yourself; it can get pretty darn messy. And, you may end up making the problem a whole lot worse than it was to begin with if you don’t really know what you’re doing. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to be dealing with raw sewage yourself.
If you do notice one or more of these signs of a main sewer line clog in your home, it’s a good idea to call a plumbing pro immediately. I would strongly suggest that you do not try and fix the problem yourself; it can get pretty darn messy.
To save yourself the mess and the stress, an experienced plumbing professional will use their expertise and arsenal of tools to properly diagnose and fix the problem. They can also do a full inspection of your sewer system to make sure that the rest of your pipes are in good shape, or pinpoint needed small repairs to stop them from escalating into a larger problem, saving you trouble and cash down the road.
Like I said before, you don’t want any surprises when it comes to your sewer system. But, is something does bubble up, dealing with it as quickly as possible is key. And, hopefully, if you hire a really great plumber, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily they can resolve even the smelliest of sewer problems.
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Image courtesy JacobLund