Do you suspect a main line sewer stoppage? A main line sewer stoppage, or sewer drain clog as it’s also called, is a serious issue. It is considered a top plumbing emergency! A main line stoppage occurs in the main sewer line that connects your home plumbing to either a septic tank or your city’s municipal sewer system. If this line becomes clogged, gray, or used water from your home drain system begins to back up and will eventually start to seep back through your drains in any way possible, and yes, this is often quite a gross site to see! It can also be extremely hazardous to you and your family for a multitude of reasons, such as bacteria and water damage (which leads to mold and other harmful bacteria). So if you suspect a sewer drain clog, you need to get it cleared immediately!
FIRST THING TO NOTE:
IF YOU SUSPECT A SEWER DRAIN CLOG, STOP ANY USAGE OF YOUR HOME PLUMBING UNTIL THE CLOG IS REMOVED! THIS CAN MAKE THE PROBLEM MUCH WORSE!
The following are a few ways to confirm that you do in fact have a main line sewer stoppage, as well as a list of some of the most common causes of main line sewer clogs and a few options you have to help solve your problem and clear the clog before it gets worse!
CONFIRMING A MAIN LINE SEWER CLOG
- The most common sign of a sewer clog is the back up of multiple fixtures in your home at the same time. Normally you will notice it first with your toilets, since they have a direct path to the sewer, but also in your tubs and showers since they sit lower than any sinks and other fixtures in your home.
- Another common sign of sewer stoppages are strange reactions that occur when using certain fixtures in your home. For example, if you flush the toilet and your tub or shower drain backs up; If you turn on the bathroom sink and you see bubbles in the toilet or the toilet begins to fill; Or if you run your washing machine and when it begins to drain, nearby toilets overflow or you notice a back up in other nearby fixtures.
- A final way to confirm a sewer stoppage (AND THE BEST WAY TO DETERMINE IF IT IS ACTUALLY A SEWER CLOG AND NOT JUST A SIMPLE DRAIN CLOG) is by checking your sewer clean-out. A sewer clean-out can most often be found on the exterior of a home; it is a 3-4 inch pipe protruding from the ground with a visible cap. Once you remove the cap, if water is visible, either flowing, overflowing or standing, you definitely have a problem!
NOTE: A lot of older homes DO NOT have sewer clean-outs, and often in many homes that DO have sewer clean-outs, they are obstructed by landscaping. Knowing where your sewer clean-out is, is very important, and if you do not have a sewer clean-out, we strongly recommend getting one installed.
MAIN CAUSES OF MAIN LINE SEWER STOPPAGES
There are many causes of main line stoppages, but the following are some of the most common:
- Years of built-up, sludge, grease and grime
- Foreign objects that easily become obstructions
- Growing tree roots spreading through the pipes
- Broken or dislocated pipes
- Or, if your home has a septic tank, an over filled tank
NOTE: If your home has a septic tank, you probably just need to get it flushed.
SOLUTIONS FOR CLEARING A MAIN LINE SEWER STOPPAG
Often we are asked if it is the city’s responsibility to take care of these types of main line stoppages, and the not-so-straight-forward answer is, it depends. If the problem is within the lateral sewer line, it is actually the home-owner’s responsibility. If you have tried everything, but the clog persists, it might actually be located within the municipal pipe and would then be the city’s issue. This is something you really wouldn’t know until after a thorough inspection.
To clear a sewer drain clog though, you will need a sewer drain snake. You can either rent one from your local hardware store or call a professional plumber. I recommend calling a professional plumber, and I promise it’s not just because I am one, but because a professional plumber has the tools not only to unclog your sewer, but to also check for the cause and completely clear the pipes so the problem does not persist. (Just make sure he’s a licensed plumber!)
To give you an example as to what I mean, picture a completely blocked pipe. A drain snake will poke and prod away until it creates a few small holes in the blockage for the water to flow through. This will often solve your problems of water back-ups in your home, however, depending on the situation, but more often than not, the problem will persist and will frequent often. The reason for this is because the pipes were not completely cleared.
A professional plumber can use their technologies, such as a sewer camera, to inspect your pipes to find the cause of the problem. If it’s tree roots, they have a tool to cut them. If its years of built-up sludge, and grease, and grime, they can use a hydro-jetting machine to flush it all away. If it’s a foreign object they can locate it to remove it. If it is a broken or dislocated pipe, they can fix it. I’m sure we all get the picture now. So next time you suspect a main line sewer clog, don’t wait until it’s too late! Now that you know what to look for and what to do, get it fixed quick!