Is My Clog in My Drain or Sewer Line?

Oh, dear. That stubborn drain is blocked up again. Whether it’s in your bathroom, kitchen, or even a perimeter drain, figuring out what’s causing the issue can be a real nuisance. If it seems like no matter what you do you simply can’t keep your drain running smoothly, then the truth is your issue may be bigger than you think. While drains do clog up more frequently due to their smaller size, your issue could also be bigger and located in your sewer line.

How can you tell the difference between a drain or sewer issue when both of these problems appear to be so similar on the surface? Without proper training, diagnosing the issue can be tricky. However, to make it a little easier, our plumbers have a few tips and tricks you can follow that might clue you in as to the true nature of your issue.

Signs of a Clogged Drain

Drain clogs look fairly routine to most homeowners. They’re one of those things that you really can’t avoid, even though you can take measures to prevent them for as long as possible. However, there are a few ways you can tell if the issue is isolated to just one singular drain line.

  • No other nearby drains are clogged at the same time. Got a clogged bathroom sink? If the toilet flushes smoothly and the shower or tub drains quickly, then your clog is most likely isolated to just the sink.
  • Your drain moves slowly. If a drain actually moves at all, then there’s a good chance that your problem lies in your drain line. It’s actually pretty rare that your drain line becomes entirely obscured, and the pressure that water places on a clog often allows water to flow through extremely slowly at the very least. This doesn’t mean that a completely stopped drain isn’t in your drain line, but it is a lot more uncommon.

Signs of a Clogged Sewer Line

Sewer line clogs are a much more serious ordeal and require substantial work to remove. That being said, they also tend to have a much greater impact on your home, so identifying one of these issues is generally not too difficult. Here are a few indications that you are actually dealing with a sewer line issue:

  • Multiple drains in the same area are blocked and moving slowly. The sink is slow, the toilet doesn’t flush, and water in your shower just pools up at your feet. This blockage is definitely way further down the line than a standard drain clog issue. This can also be confirmed if clogs like this exist in multiple rooms of your home.
  • Foul odors come back up your drain lines. Does it smell like raw sewage in your home? This is probably because of sulfur and other gasses finding their way back up your drain network when they can’t escape through your sewer line like usual. When your sewer line is blocked, water can often block off ventilation pipes, meaning the only place these odors can go is back out through your drains themselves. Thus, your home reeks of horrible odors.
  • Wet areas outside your home. Sewer line problems often find their way to the surface above where your sewer line is located. If you have unexplained standing water on your grass or somewhere near your home, this could very well be due to a blockage and serious damage to your sewer line.
  • Gurgling sounds in your drains. When there’s a blockage further down your lines and ventilation pipes are blocked up, the only way for gasses and air to escape is back up your drain lines. Sometimes, when a drain line is blocked, these gasses can’t easily escape there either. So they go to the next line available where their path remains unblocked. This manifests itself in the form of gurgling noises coming from your drains (also often accompanied by that same raw sewage smell).
  • Water running down one drain appears in another. If you flush the toilet and water starts to back up into your shower, your drain lines are probably stopped up. When you add more water into the system, it will generally back up into available space, and that could include other drain lines. This is usually an indication of a sewer problem.

Whether you have a drain or a sewer issue on your hands, call the experts at EnviroSafe Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, Water Treatment at (856) 878-2806 today.