Most homeowners are aware that the sewer lines transport wastewater from their home to the sewer mains that are underground. Beyond this common knowledge, few people give much thought to their sewer lines until they get clogged.
If you have a clogged sewer line, bad things can happen. Raw sewage can ooze out of the drains, leading to significant damage to your home, flooring, and furnishings, not to mention costly sewer line repairs or replacement.
The good news is that when homeowners get educated and learn how to respond to their home’s early warning signs, they can avert severe sewage and plumbing issues. Here are some warning signs that you should look out for.
Look for Clogs
The two most common red flags are 1) water that’s backing out of the toilet plumbing or a drain, or 2) a gurgling sound that comes out of the drains.
Some plumbers would say that your house is essentially talking to you. If you wash a load of laundry and the toilets start to sound like coffee percolating, or if water pools around the drain of the basement, those are some of the first telltale signs.
A clog can occur in the main sewer line or in one of the secondary lines. Your house is actually set up much like a tree. There is the main trunk line that runs out of the house, then there are a bunch of small branches off of that.
If there is a clog in the mainline, then any water that is run in the house will cause problems. If there’s a clog in one of the secondary lines, then the clog will be isolated to that second line.
For example, if the clog is in the bathroom sink, it’s not going to come back up in the bathtub, and you can still flush the toilet just fine. However, if it’s in the mainline, if you turn any water on, it will cause the toilet to percolate and it will come up in the bathtub or the basement.
When Tree Roots are to Blame
Tree roots are the main reason for clogged sewer lines, especially in older homes that are surrounded by large, mature trees. In newer homes, however, sewer lines are commonly clogged by feminine hygiene products, thicker toilet paper, and paper towels.
A simple cleanout can often clear out the clog; that’s the first defense against a clogged drain. If it doesn’t resolve the problem, it may be good to run a camera through the drain.