7 Tell-Tale Signs of a Sewer Drain Clog

drain clog

20% of Americans own a septic tank, facing 23,000-75,000 septic-sanitary sewer overflows every year.

A sewer drain clog is a common plumbing issue that many homeowners face. Their plumbing fixtures, such as toilets and showers, may start acting oddly or stop running completely.

Main drain clogs are even more serious because they affect the entire sewer system and cost homeowners $550 on average to fix.

It’s important for every homeowner to know the problems that can cause these issues and the signs that point to them. This knowledge allows them to get the problem fixed before it affects their entire sewer system or those of their neighbors.

Read our sewer drain clog guide to find out what causes them and signs that you may be facing one.

What Causes a Sewer Drain Clog?

Before learning the signs of a sewer drain clog, it’s important to understand what causes the issue so you can avoid it.

The roots of trees and other plants can grow right into your sewer line, causing fractures and breaks.

A range of materials that shouldn’t be flushed end up in toilets every day. Toys, sanitary products, and more can back up pipes and lead to a clogged sewer line.

An older sewer line is more likely to face issues. It may be made of less durable materials like cast-iron or clay. It can’t handle as much material as newer systems and will get clogged faster.

These are only some of the causes to keep in mind to prevent a sewer drain clog. Check here for more reasons sewer drains clog.

Sign 1: Unpleasant Odor

One of the most obvious signs of a sewer drain clog is an unpleasant odor throughout the house. It’ll smell like sewage, and its power depends on the severity of the clog.

A clogged sewer line can’t drain properly, leaving everything you tried to get rid of sitting there to rot. Check your sewer line for issues as soon as you begin to notice the odor to avoid major problems.

Sign 2: Drains Running Slowly or Not at All

Slow-running drains are another common sign of blocked sewers. The problem may last for a long time, but there are several ways it can negatively affect your plumbing system as a whole.

Toilets may become difficult to flush or their water level may change. Soap scum in the bathroom may result from a clogged drain. White deposits may develop around basement drains as water repeatedly backs up, pools, and drains.

A clogged sewer drain may also not run at all. If your toilet won’t flush or your shower won’t drain and remedies, like plunging or snaking, don’t work, it’s probably the result of a sewer drain clog.

Sign 3: Several Fixtures Clogged at Once

A single clog in one plumbing fixture is a common issue and not usually cause for concern because a plunger should be enough to fix it. If multiple clogs start to appear, this could be a sign of a larger problem.

Check every plumbing fixture, including the toilet, bathtub, and shower. If more than one of them makes a gurgling sound or acts oddly when backed up with water, that’s one of the signs of main drain clogs.

Sign 4: Water Backups

Water backup is another common sign of a sewer drain clog, no matter where it’s coming from.

A sewer drain clog often causes water to come out of the wrong place as it attempts to escape through blocked pipes.

Water may come out of the shower or tub when you flush the toilet. Your shower or toilet may overflow when you use the washing machine. The toilet may bubble or its water level may increase when you try to run the bathroom sink.

A single sewer clog could cause one of these issues. More than one water backup problem is another one of the signs of main drain clogs.

Sign 5: Trees and Other Physical Blockages

Sewer pipes run underground, but so do the roots of trees and other foliage. They can easily interfere with each other, and a strong plant can cause a serious crack or breakage.

If you see leaves, twigs, or other debris when you flush the toilet, you probably have a tree or other foliage causing damage somewhere.

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Foliage isn’t the only thing that can cause damage and a clogged sewer line. Anything sharp enough and placed deep enough underground, like lawn ornaments or sprinklers, could also cut into your pipes.

If you have visible sewer lines, you should be able to see if there’s anything cutting into them and causing a blocked sewer. If not, you may have to call a professional to use tools to detect any issues.

Sign 6: Standing Water

Standing water, also known as stagnant water, is any body of water that isn’t moving. It can form in puddles or pools and is a clear sign of a sewer drain clog.

Standing water is a health hazard because it develops bacteria and encourages mosquitos. If you notice it anywhere inside or outside of your home, take it as a sign of a clogged sewer line and remedy the situation.

Sign 7: Drainage at the Sewer Cleanout

The sewer clean out is a white pipe that provides access to the sewer line. Depending on the age of your home, it should have a rounded rubber or metal mushroom-shaped cap.

Sewer cleanouts were added to newer homes to make it easier to check for plumbing issues. That’s why they’re so easy to check.

Turn the water off, find your sewer cleanout if you have one, and screw off the cap. If you see water standing in or flowing out of the pipe, this is proof you have a clogged sewer line.

How to Clear a Sewer Drain Clog

There are several causes and signs of a sewer drain clog.

Materials that can’t be flushed, plant roots, and more can all cause issues with the pipes. Signs include but aren’t limited to foul odors, drains that run slowly or not at all, multiple fixtures clogged at once, water backup issues, physical blockages, standing water, and drainage at your sewer cleanout.

Always rely on a plumber to clear a blocked sewer. You can check this guide from MyHomeNeedz to unclog a kitchen sink. While small clogs can be cleared with a plunger and other easy-to-use tools, a clogged sewer line is a more serious problem that requires careful attention to prevent further damage.

Read the rest of our content and keep checking back or more information.

View Comment (1)
  • We have sewers in my neighborhood. This is very good information for us to know. We did have trouble with tree roots in the past also.

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