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It’s a common occurrence in every household for the kitchen sink to get clogged or for a bathroom faucet to spring a leak. If you’re handy around a wrench and other simple tools, these are things you can address yourself, without having to call in plumbers. But what do you do if you suddenly see your home filling up with sewage? That is an indicator that your main sewer line is clogged. Can you handle that by yourself? Do you know how to fix a main sewer line clog? Following these do’s and don’ts will help you deal with the situation in the best possible way.
Identifying a main sewer line clog
A main sewer line clog has some pretty obvious tells, much like a bad poker player. For example, you may flush the toilet, and suddenly you see water coming out of your tub or shower.
Or you might observe that your sink suddenly overflows when you run your washing machine.
Water backing up in unexpected places is a sure shot sign of a main sewer line clog.
Another sign of a blocked sewer line is if you get foul smells on the lower levels from your drains.
Gurgling sounds from toilets, sinks, and other drains every time you drain water is another sign of sewer line trouble.
Another tell is if you notice multiple drains in your home are running slow. This is another indicator of a major block in your main sewer line.
When you start noticing these signs, it’s always a good idea to act immediately and call for professional help before things worsen.
Why DIY is not a great idea
If you notice that only one drain is blocked, you can set that right by hydro jetting or by using a drain snake. However, you cannot do that if you have your main sewer line clogged.
Your home’s main sewer line is connected to all the drain lines in your home: your sinks, toilets, bathtubs, everything. If that gets clogged, it could cause water to back up in all your drains, creating much bigger issues.
Your drain snake is definitely not going to reach that far, and you probably don’t own a professional-grade auger for sewer cleaning.
Also, keep in mind that your main sewer line runs outside your house and connects to the main city line. Most clogs are caused by broken pipes, or by severe clogs caused by debris such as tree and shrub roots. Pipes, especially in older homes, tend to become brittle with age and can break if not replaced in time. Grease build-up, the use of poor quality toilet paper as well as flushing down things like sanitary napkins, diapers, etc. are other common causes of sewer line clogs.
Dealing with these issues requires professional attention.
Do’s and don’ts
Sewage water carries a lot of germs, bacteria, and pollutants that can cause serious health hazards. The first thing you will have to do is clean up all the leaked sewage so that no one faces the risk of falling ill.
Stop using water
Make sure that no one uses any toilets, sinks, or other plumbing fixtures. The last thing you want is more toilet water to back up into your home.
Call a professional
Once you’ve cleaned up and made sure there’s no risk of further flooding inside your home, call a professional plumbing company. They will investigate the reason for the block and deal with it accordingly.
If the block is not a major block, they may be able to use an industrial auger or a hydro jet, a device that uses high-pressure water jets to unclog the sewer drains.
If the problem is caused by a broken pipe or by tree roots, the plumbing company will need to dig around the pipe, clear the debris and replace a section of the pipe.
Don’t try DIY solutions
DIY solutions like drain cleaners will only worsen the situation, so do not attempt to use these. The caustic composition of these drain cleaning fluids can eat through older sewer pipes, causing more damage.
Even if you know where the cap for your sewer cleanout line is, opening it without knowing the reason for the clog could cause flooding and water damage.
Read more: French drain installation
Don’t delay calling for help
A major block in your sewer line is not going to fix itself, and the longer you take to call for help, the longer you will have to live with compromised water and drainage facilities. Call for help as soon as you start noticing signs of major blocks in your plumbing system.
Avoiding future clogs
- Things like paint, grease, and coffee ground tend to clump, form masses, and will get your sewer drain clogged. Keep these out of your drain.
- Never flush sanitary napkins or diapers down the toilet. Avoid paper towels as well.
- Make sure you check the quality of your toilet paper before flushing it. Let a single piece shit in your toilet for an hour. If it is still as is at the end of that time, it’s probably not a good idea to flush it.
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