If you are like most homeowners, you have an idea of how the plumbing works in your home, but you may not know how to distinguish one plumbing problem from another. You likely know the signs of a clogged drain and how to clear it with a drain clearing liquid or plunger, but do you know the signs that your home's main sewer line is clogged? It is important to understand these signs, because if your family continues to use your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room fixtures after your main sewer line develops a clog, it can lead to sewer water damage in your home, and you don't want to have to make extensive repairs to a room in your home that has become filled with very unsanitary waste water.
Read on to learn the three most common signs of a clogged main sewer line in your home and two ways to clear it.
Signs of a Clogged Main Sewer Line in Your Home
All of the pipes that carry water away from water fixtures in your home connect to your home's one main sewer line. When this line is clogged, you may notice the following signs:
1. Sewage Flows up Through Your Shower Drain When You Flush Your Toilet
If you suspect you may have a clogged main sewer line, then flushing a toilet in your home while watching and listening to the drain in a shower located in the same room is an easy way to test your suspicion. If water seeps up into the shower drain or you hear a gurgling noise in the drain, then they are both signs that your main sewer line is likely clogged. Unless absolutely necessary, you should flush the toilet with nothing in it. Anything you flush down the toilet when you have a clogged main sewer line can regurgitate up into your shower drain, including human waste.
2. Water Fills Your Bathroom Toilet When You Run the Sink Faucet
Another sign that your main sewer line is clogged is water flowing into your toilet through its drain as water flows down the drain of the bathroom sink. When you have a clogged main sewer line, the drain in the plumbing fixture with piping that lies just beneath the one you are using (this diagram shows how a typical home's plumbing is connected) is the drain that is most likely to back up.
3. Water Flows out of Your Sump Pump That Is Connected to the Main Sewer Line
Not all basement sump pumps are connected to a home's main sewer line. Many are instead connected to the city's storm drain system. So if the drains in the rest of your home are backing up but your sump pump is not, then don't assume that this must be a sign that a clogged sewer line is not your problem.
If you see other signs of a clogged main sewer line in your home and your sump pump is connected to your main line, then it is very important to check it out immediately if you typically don't spend any time in your basement; as the lowest drain in your home, it could have already backed up profusely by the time you noticed signs of a clogged main sewer line in the rest of your home.
Ways to Clear a Clogged Main Sewer Line in a Home
Due to the risk to your home and your family's health that occurs when your main sewer line is clogged, it is important to call someone like Sullivan Super Service immediately if you notice any signs that it is clogged. How they will clear the line depends greatly on what they determine has clogged it.
If the clog turns out to stem from items that were flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain that shouldn't have been or other general debris, then the plumber may be able to simply use a plumbing auger or snake to clear the drain. This is the easiest and quickest solution, but it doesn't work for every clogged sewer line.
If the plumber finds that the cause of the clogged line is tree roots that have grown into the main sewer line, then clearing the line will take a more extensive solution. Tree roots love to "find" small cracks in sewer lines to run into, because the line contains water and nutrients that actually nourish the trees.If there are just a few roots causing the clog, then your plumber may be able to clear the line with a special device that cuts the tree roots loose from your pipes and flushes them away. This is called "de-rooting" the line.
However, if a plumber de-roots your main sewer line, roots from the same tree may grow back into the line over time. If this occurs, then you will need to look into replacing your sewer line and/or removing the tree that is invading your line.
If you own a home, then you need to know the signs of common plumbing problems, so you know when you have a plumbing emergency on your hands that needs to be taken care of before it worsens. If you ever notice these signs of a clogged main sewer line in your home, know it is important to take action before your home fills with sewage.