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5 Warning Signs You May Have Clogged Sewer Lines

There are some maintenance issues you can put off for a while, like a cracked floor tile or a creaky hinge. These are the kinds of issues that might get on your nerves but won’t lead to major issues down the road.

However, some maintenance issues should be tackled right away. According to housing and commercial property experts, clogged sewer lines are high on the list of maintenance issues that need to be prioritized by homeowners.

In order to deal with clogged sewer lines as soon as possible, you’ll need to recognize the warning signs. Unlike a single clogged drain, clogged sewer lines don’t always make themselves known right away.

Read on for the 5 warning signs that you’ve got clogged sewer lines and what to do about it.

Signs That You Have Clogged Sewer Lines

In order to tackle your plumbing issues, you’ll need to know what signs to look for. When trying to spot a clogged sewer line, you’re often going to need to take note of multiple issues with multiple fixtures. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and obvious symptoms of a clogged sewer line.

1. Multiple Clogs Throughout Your Home

When a single fixture is clogged, such as a sink or a toilet, it’s often safe to assume that the clog is located somewhere close to the fixture, itself. However, if you notice that multiple fixtures are clogging, the issue is probably farther down the line.

For example, if a toilet upstairs won’t flush properly and the kitchen sink is slow to drain, it’s likely that those problems are not unrelated. The same rule applies if the issues are stemming from your showers, bathtubs, dishwasher, and/or washing machine. 

2. Funky or Unpleasant Sewage Smells

Homeowners with clogged sewer lines often report an unpleasant sewage smell coming from their various plumbing fixtures.

This may occur primarily when the fixture is in use. In more serious cases, the smell may stick around all the time, whether you’re running the fixture or not. In some cases, you may notice this sewage smell in your yard or basement. 

The problem is that all of that sewage doesn’t have anywhere to go, so it’s backing up or seeping into areas where it doesn’t belong.

3. Water Backups in Plumbing Fixtures You’re Not Using

Rather than clogs or outlets that are slow to drain, you may notice that one appliance seems to back up when another is in use. A common example of this is a toilet that bubbles when a sink is running or a shower drain that regurgitates water when the toilet is flushed. 

When this happens, it will often occur between two appliances or fixtures that are located near one another. Unfortunately, what you may be looking at is wastewater that is backing up in one appliance because it doesn’t have the proper channels to drain from the other.

4. The Sewer Cleanout Drain Is Backed Up

Every property is equipped with a sewer cleanout drain. This is often a white pipe that sticks up straight from the ground and is topped by a rounded or square thread cap. Most properties have sewer cleanout drains in the basement or the crawl space of the house. Occasionally, you’ll find them in the yard, though this is rare, especially with new construction. 

How do you know if your sewer cleanout drain is backed up? Remove the cap and look down the cleanout drain for standing water. In more severe cases, you might end up dealing with a sewer cleanout drain that is overflowing, flooding your basement, yard, or crawl space with wastewater.

If you discover that your sewer cleanout drain is backed up, that may indicate that the clog is located in the sewer line that extends from your home to the street. 

5. The Lawn Is Wet in Strange Places 

Have you noticed any puddles or saturated spots in your yard? Is this wet spot accompanied by a strong sewage smell? You may have an issue with a clogged sewer line that is causing water to back up into your yard.

How do you know if this is the case? If it hasn’t been raining or the wet spot is not located in a lower area of your yard that might retain water longer, there’s a good chance that the source of water is a clogged sewer line.

What to Do About Clogged Sewer Lines

When you’re dealing with a single clogged pipe, you can often tackle it yourself with a plunger or a drain snake. Sewer lines, however, are harder to reach and require special tools and expertise to treat. In other words, if you encounter any of these signs, don’t attempt to solve the problem yourself.

Instead, contact professionals who have experience with clogged sewer lines. The expense of hiring a contractor is well worth it in a situation like this. The most important thing is to ensure that the job is taken care of quickly and that it is done right the first time so that you’re not dealing with long-term problems.  

Don’t Let a Small Annoyance Become a Major Issue

Some maintenance problems can be put off for a few days or weeks at a time. Some, like clogged sewer lines, do not fall into this category. What begins as a small annoyance, like a few backed up drains, can become a major problem if left unaddressed for too long.

Do you want to keep your business running as efficiently as your plumbing? We’re here to make your job easier. 

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