Common Drain and Sewer Problems – Signs of a Sewer Drain Clog and Drain Backups


It’s every host’s holiday nightmare – the house is beautiful, dinner is perfect and after the guests arrive, someone announces a clogged sink or toilet. The holidays are a prime time for this sort of domestic disaster because more people are in and out of your home and using your facilities. Unfortunately, sometimes what seems like a simple clog is really a sewer drain clog, and a flush with nowhere to go will end up in your sinks, tub, shower and floor.

How to Tell if you Have a Sewer Clog

One easy way to tell if you’re dealing with a sewer clog is if more than one fixture is backed up. Obviously toilets will be affected because they have the largest and most direct lines to the sewer. Check if the tub and shower are affected when the toilet is flushed. Since their drains sit lower than a sink drain, any water that can’t get through to the sewer will come back into the home at the lowest point.

Clogged sink

Clogged sink

Another easy way to tell if the sewer is clogged, especially in a powder room with no shower or tub, is to turn on the closest sink for a couple of minutes. If the water in the toilet bubbles or starts to rise, there’s a clog in the main line. Running the washing machine can also reveal a sewer clog. If the water draining out of the machine causes the toilet to overflow or backs up into the tub or shower, it could mean the main sewer line is clogged. However, if the toilet still flushes, this probably means a problem with the washing machine drainage and not the sewer.

Finally, if you have a main line clean out, remove the cap and look for any waste or water that may be backing up in there. Water should not be coming up the clean out pipe. Water coming up the pipe, or standing water, is a sure sign of a sewer drain clog.

What to Do if you Have a Sewer Clog

Regardless of how you determine you have a clog, it must be dealt with as soon as possible. A plunger or drain snake isn’t going to do the job. If you’re the DIY type, call a rental shop to see if they rent main line drain snakes, which are similar to the smaller drain snakes you use for the kitchen sink, but are powered by a motor. These are not cheap to buy, so it’s much cheaper to rent or call a plumber.

Sewer Clog

Plumber fixing a sewer clog

Once the clog has been removed, if there’s damage to your home, leave the cleanup to the professionals at ServiceMaster DAK. They’ve been serving Barrington, Wheeling, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Buffalo Grove and surrounding areas for 40 years. They have the tools and the experience to safely clean even the worst damage.


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