How to know when your sewer line is clogged?


A clogged sewer line can cause a lot of problems in your home, from unpleasant smells to backed-up drains. The best course of action, if your sewer line appears clogged, is to act immediately to prevent further damage and costly repairs.  Several factors can contribute to a blockage in your main sewer line. One common culprit is tree roots that have grown into the pipes and caused them to crack or break. Over time, debris such as grease, soap scum, and food particles can also build up inside the pipes and obstruct the water flow. The sewage system becomes clogged if non-degradable items are flushed down the toilet (such as baby wipes or feminine hygiene products).

So how to know when your sewer line is clogged?

  • Slow-draining sinks and showers: Water draining slowly from your sinks or shower stalls could indicate partial blockages in the pipes.
  • Gurgling sounds: You may hear gurgling noises coming from your toilet bowl or sink when another appliance (such as a washing machine) is running. It could indicate air bubbles trapped in the pipes due to an obstruction.
  • Foul odors: A blocked sewer line will often produce unpleasant smells emanating from sinks or drains throughout your home.
  • Toilet backup: The most obvious sign of a blocked sewer line is when wastewater backs up into your toilets after flushing.
  • Water pooling outside: If you notice standing water around floor drains or near outdoor plumbing fixtures (such as hose bibs), this could indicate that wastewater is not draining properly. An obstructed line or a broken pipe could cause this problem. A plumber with experience can inspect the area and identify the problem.

Action is imperative if you notice any of these signs. Leaving a sewer line clogged untreated can lead to more serious issues in the future, such as sewage backups and flooding.

  • Check for multiple clogs: If only one sink or toilet is backing up, try clearing it with a plunger or plumbing snake. However, if multiple fixtures are affected, this could indicate a bigger problem with the main sewer line.
  • Call a professional plumber: A licensed plumber will have the tools and expertise needed to diagnose and repair your sewer line clog. They may use specialized equipment such as video cameras or hydro-jetting machines to locate and clear the obstruction.
  • Consider preventative measures: To prevent future blockages, avoid flushing non-degradable items down your toilets and dispose of grease and food scraps properly (in the garbage rather than in the kitchen sink). Consider having a plumber inspect your pipes regularly to detect any potential issues before they become big. Maintaining your plumbing system properly maintained and repairing any problems as soon as possible may prevent future blockages.