A blocked sewer can become a nasty situation very quickly. Without prompt treatment, you could be looking at costly repairs and a dangerous biohazard for yourself and your family. By knowing the signs of a blocked sewer, you can take swift action before the problem becomes worse.
A Bad Smell
One of the most obvious signs of a blocked sewer is the smell. If you smell sewage coming from any of the drains, you might be looking at a broken sewer line or wastewater that’s backing up into the pipes. Sometimes, the block may be within your property’s branch line and can be removed with drain cleaning agents. Otherwise, you’ll need a professional to identify and fix the problem.
A Blocked or Slow-Flushing Toilet
Toilets run directly to the sewer line, so they’re a good barometer of your pipes’ overall health. Usually, a plunger can quickly clear any blocks in the drainpipe. If you notice that the toilet is taking longer to flush or is regularly backing up, though, you might be looking at a blockage deeper in the pipes.
Sink Drains Backing Up or Draining Slowly
Usually, slow or blocked drains are due to a build-up of hair, food, or other debris in your drainpipes. A drain clearing agent or a plumber’s eel can solve the problem. But if the problem persists, it could be a sign of something more serious.
All pipes have drain waste vents that create a vacuum to suck water away. If these vents are blocked, you could encounter backed-up drains. In general, the more sinks that are draining slowly, the more likely you are to have a blocked sewer.
Bubbling Toilet Water
If the water in your toilet bowl starts to look like it’s boiling, you might have a problem.
A block or break in the sewer line can cause air and water to travel back up the pipe, causing the bubbles. This might be temporary, and you can test it by running water in a nearby sink. If the bubbling stops, it was just a fluke. But if it continues or worsens, you’re likely looking at a sewer blockage or break.
A Damp or Depressed Lawn
When sewer lines break, they start leaking wastewater into the surrounding ground. This causes the soil to shift and sink, which can cause a depression to appear on your lawn. You may also notice soggy sod or puddles even if it hasn’t rained. Perpetually damp ground in areas with poor drainage or loose soil can also cause pipes to break. Either way, an unnaturally flooded lawn is usually a sign of a severe plumbing problem that only a professional can fix.
A Ripple Effect
If you flush one toilet and encounter water bubbling up in the sink, you run the washing machine and the toilet backs up, or if multiple drains start to back up or slow down at once, you’re likely looking at a sewer blockage. There’s no easy home remedy for this situation. You need to call in the pros right away before the damage gets worse.
How Blockages Are Repaired
Professional plumbers and sewer repair teams will typically use a camera with a CCTV feed to diagnose the problem. Radio technology further helps them identify the exact location of the blockage. In most cases of severe blockage, the problem is on your property but outside the house. Plumbers may use a power-assisted auger to send a vibrating metal cable down your pipes. The process breaks up any roots that have invaded the pipes and obliterates most blockages.
If this method doesn’t solve the problem, the block might be too thick or far down the pipe to be reached. The team will then prepare to dig down and repair the pipe. This is also the preferred method when a pipe has broken, and plumbers may excavate your lawn to reach the damage or use trenchless repair methods to replace the pipe. This causes significant disruption to your lawn, though, which is why innovative plumbers have developed a new process called sewer jetting, also known as hydro jetting.
Severe blockages can’t be cleared by drain clearing agents or plumber’s eels. In fact, those might make the problem worse. During the jetting process, your pipes are essentially pressure-cleaned. With 4,000 psi of pressure, water obliterates blockages and flushes excessive debris into the sewer. Of course, broken pipes will still need to be repaired, but if your problem is simply a massive blockage, sewer jetting is an incredibly effective method.
While plenty of blockages occur on their own due to tree roots invading the sewer line or general degradation of the pipes, you can also prevent blockages with proper drain practices.
Never pour grease or fat down your kitchen sink and avoid putting food down the drain — even if you have a garbage disposal. You should also never flush baby wipes, napkins, paper towels, or other thick materials. Even so-called “flushable” wet wipes are not safe for most sewer systems.
Finally, don’t use your toilet as a garbage can: never flush cigarettes, dental floss, sanitary products, contraceptives, textiles, or other materials that could ball up into a blockage.
Moreover, you shouldn’t wait for a blockage to happen before you hire someone to clear your sewer line. Preventative maintenance can prevent costly repairs and destruction to your lawn in the future. Sewer jetting can be done at any time to prevent debris build-up. Plumbing professionals usually recommend that you have the procedure performed every 18–24 months, but your needs may vary. Consult with an experienced professional plumber for customized guidance.
It’s important to quickly address sewer blockages and other severe plumbing problems. If you suspect your pipes are blocked or broken, immediately turn off the water to your house and call for help.
Continued drainage can cause extensive damage, which can become very expensive to repair. Severe blockages also pose a health risk by causing toxic wastewater to backup into your home or leak into your yard.
Swift action will help your problem get fixed faster and prevent further damage. Know the signs of sewer blockage and reach out for help ASAP. No Probs Plumbing and Electrical offers camera inspection, advanced auger tools, and sewer jetting to clear out blockages and restore your pipes’ health.
No Probs Plumbing and Electrical is available to quickly evaluate your problem and recommend a course of action that will preserve your property’s health and safety. If you suspect a sewer blockage, don’t delay: call No Probs Plumbing and Electrical today.