For the most part, we take our plumbing and wastewater systems for granted. We just flush the toilet or run the sink. Once the water swirls down the drain, we never think about it again. At least not until it backs up. Whether it’s sewage in your basement or a toilet overflowing, a sewer line backup is disgusting. Spotting the signs of sewer line problems before a back up will save you from needing to clean up a terrible mess.
Common Signs That You Have Sewer Line Problems
- Multiple Drains Are Backed Up: Several backed up or slowly flowing drains are signs for concern. If only one drain backs up, the problem is not likely related to your sewer line.
- Water Backs Up Into Other Drains: Water gurgles or backs up into other drains when using different plumbing fixtures. For example, your toilet gurgles when you run the sink or your bathtub backups while using your washing machine.
- Smelly or Soggy Yard: An unusually smelly or soggy yard is another sign you may have a problem. Typically it indicates that your lateral sanitary sewer line – the line that connects with the municipal sewers – has cracked or collapsed.
- Sewer Cleanout Is Backed Up: The sewer cleanout is a pipe that allows access to the sewer line. It is typically a PVC pipe with a rubber or plastic cap but may be made of other materials in some cases. After carefully removing the cap, the pipe will overflow or show signs that sewage is filling up the pipe. Homes built prior to 1978 may not have a sewer cleanout.
What To Do If You Have A Problem With Your Sewer Line
While you may think you can resolve the problem yourself, it’s unlikely that drain cleaners or other chemicals will have any effect. Since you won’t know where and what is causing your sewer line problem, it’s more likely that drain cleaners will back up into other drains. Not only can these chemicals corrode plumbing fixtures, but they may irritate or burn your skin, harm the environment, and poison humans and pets.
If you suspect you have sewer line problems, turn off your main water supply line. Your water shutoff valve is normally located in the basement, garage, or in a water meter box near the street. Once you have shut off the water, contact a professional plumber to inspect your sewer lines. If you are unable to locate you shut off valve, avoid running water until the plumber arrives.
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