When your sink’s drain is clogged, it can be a bit of a pain to deal with, but it’s manageable. When all of your plumbing fixtures are clogged, on the other hand, it’s likely there’s a more serious problem brewing.
That problem? A main sewer line clog. These clogs are a serious problem – they can lead to waste draining into your lawn, malfunctions in all of your plumbing and, worst of all, sewer backup. Trust us – there are few experiences more unpleasant than sewage flowing into your home.
The solution? Know the warning signs, understand the causes, and have a plan when main sewer clogs occur. We’re going to cover all of the above.
The warning signs
We’ve already touched on the main warning sign – when all of your plumbing fixtures are clogged at the same time, you’ve probably got a problem with the main sewer line. You can certainly try to unclog those drains yourself, but if you find they keep getting clogged, you’re going to have to call a plumber.
You might also notice bubbling and gurgling in your toilet when you run water in another fixture, like your bathtub. That’s one of the most telltale signs that there’s a main line problem. On the flip side, you might notice water coming up from your bathtub drain when you flush your toilet – that’s a bad sign.
Finally, remember the old saying “the grass is always greener”. In this case, it means “the grass is always greener where it’s being fed by sewage”. If you notice patches of your lawn are particularly damp or spongy and green, you may have a leak in your main sewer line.
All kinds of bad things can happen to your main sewer line. Infiltration by tree roots is one of the most common problems – these tree roots damage the line’s walls and block sewage from running its normal course. You can remove the tree, or you can repair the wall and use root killer to discourage root growth.
Putting the wrong things down the drain
Know what can and can’t be flushed down the toilet (“flushable” wipes, for example, are not flushable). Don’t let grease, oils, and fats down your kitchen sink – if that can’t be avoided, install a grease trap. Human activity is one of the most common causes of sewer line clogs.
Broken, damaged, and sagging pipes
Over time, even the most well-constructed sewer line is going to take a beating. Soil shifts, and that causes the pipe to move. That sometimes leads to the pipe rupturing or sagging. Old pipes can end up with corroded walls or joints – over time, the holes and gaps caused by this corrosion grow. There’s nothing much you can do about these things – time makes fools of us all (even sewer pipes).