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7 Steps on How to Fix a Blocked Residential Sewer Drain

A clogged sewer is a very serious problem that can be considered a plumbing emergency and a pronounced health issue.

A study by Massachusetts Department of Public Health Division of Community Sanitation (DPH), and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) shows that:

“Pathogens, which are disease-causing agents; which can be in the form of bacteria, viruses, mold spores, or protozoans, are normally present in large numbers in sewage wastes.”

When the sewer is clogged, there will be limited or no space for the wastewater. Hence, it will return to the water supply system in one way or another. If you are clogging a sewer, you should not use any of the pipes in the house until the shutdown is over.

If you suspect that a sewer is blocked, it is important to confirm this and take quick steps to fix it.

There are several indications that a sewer can be blocked:

1. Several fittings are blocked

A very obvious sign of blockages in a sewer is when more than one sanitary fitting is secured simultaneously.

This applies in particular to toilets, but other devices may also be involved. If you suspect that a sewer is blocked, start checking other fittings in the house.

2. Unusual reactions when using devices

Next, if you suspect blockages in the sewer system, look for unexpected or unusual reactions when using sanitary fittings.

i). Toilets: Toilets have the most direct way to the sewer and the largest drain in the house. So, if you have a problem with the sewer, you’ll notice it first here. It is rare that a main pipe collector stops and the toilets still functions properly.

ii). Tub and shower: Other drains typically affected by the main stop are those in the tub and shower. This is due to the fact that they are located at a lower level than the gutters. Check if the tub and shower channels are blocked if you suspect that a sewer is blocked.

iii). Flush the toilet: If flushing the toilet causes water backwater or gets into the tub or shower, this is usually a clear sign of a blockage drain in the sewer system.

The rinsed water, which cannot drain through the sewer, flows up the pipes and exits at the lowest point, which is normally the shower drain.

iv). Let the sink run: Another strange reaction is the trapped air in the water pipe. Do this by introducing water into the closest sink to the toilet for one minute.

If the toilet is bubbling or you see the water level in the toilet rising, then the blockage is very likely in the main sewer and not in the toilet.

v). Washing machine: Running the washing machine can cause an unexpected clogging of a sewer. If the water draining from the washing machine causes the toilet to overflow or fall back into the bathtub or shower, this could be an indication that the sewer is blocked.

Note: This symptom can only be a problem with the washing machine and shower and not a blockage of the sewer. If the toilets are still flushing well, this is probably due to a standstill of the washing machine and not to a sewage pipe.

3. Dewatering at clean-out

If you have a main line cleaning, you have an additional possibility to check a sewer blockage. Look for ‘cleaning’ if you don’t already know where it is. Open the cleaning by either unscrewing or pulling it to remove the cap.

Check the ‘cleaning’ for waste or water that may be deposited there. Normally, no water should enter the cleaning pipe.

If water comes up and out of the cleaning or is in the pipe, this confirms that the sewer is affected in some way.

Cleaning a sewer requires a sewer line. You can either call a professional installer or rent the machine and clean it yourself. In any case, a sewer should be blocked as soon as possible.

How to tell if your septic tank is clogged

Over time, the drain field can become blocked even without external damage to tree roots or crushing pressure due to an accumulation of soap, grease and solid waste in the gravel and soil around the drain field pipes.

These substances lead to secure the wastewater and caustic solution in the soil above. If your septic drain field is clogged, you will see several different symptoms.

This can also occur in damp winters when your septic drain field is clogged.

Check your lawn to see where the septic drain field is located. Investigation of the soil surface is critical at this point, look for soaked areas and bad smells in the drain field.

Study the grass to see if it looks greener over the drain area than the other areas of your lawn. You can also see a slimy black layer over the drain field area.

For persistent problems with wastewater, put fuses and toilets in the sewer system, even after you have had the septic tank pumped.

Tips and Warnings

By having your septic tank pumped and maintained, as well as reducing your water consumption drastically, sometimes, you can correct a clogged runoff field.

Often damaged with clogged or septic field pipe, however, the drain field system must be replaced by a specialist.

Do not wait to fix a clogged sewage drain later. The longer you wait to fix the drain area, the worse the damage will be.

This eliminates blockages from the drainage pipe

Clogged sewage pipes are uncomfortable, annoying and lead to a huge impairment of the quality of living.

However, the causes, as well as the possibilities for elimination, may differ from case to case.  

Clogged sewage pipes in the household can quickly become a problem because on the one hand, constipation spreads especially in the toilet sewage pipes — and soon enough, an unpleasant smell in the entire premises.

On the other hand, overflowing toilets, washing machines, and drains, can of course, cause water damage, which must be eliminated as quickly as possible and often involve costly renovations. If the sewage pipe is clogged, you should act quickly to avoid further problems.

How does a blockage develop in the sewage pipe?

The causes of a clogged sewage pipe can be manifold. Sometimes, there is a lack of a tree, but in many cases, it is a wrong and improper use of the drain.

If there is a lack of a tree in wastewater treatment, incorrect processing of the material or improper installation may be the cause.

When assembling the individual pipes, therefore, an experienced specialist in the sanitary sector should be consulted — because drain pipes should never be installed due to the complexity of the installation itself. So blockages can be effectively prevented during construction.

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In rare cases, it can also lead to a backlog, which entails overflowing drains: Flooding, the sewage from the sewer returns back into the living spaces and results in a damage.

Backflow stops and lifting equipment can be used by a professional to prevent this problem.

In addition to improper installation by laymen, the emergence of clogged sewage pipes can of course also be due to the fact that the inhabitants of the premises give solids into the drain.

Materials such as cat litter, leftovers and other waste such as kitchen paper cause constipation.

Even oils and fats such as butter, which are still liquid when hot, become solid when poured into the drain. Consumers should therefore absolutely refrain from giving unintended material into the drain.

In addition, massive calcifications or smaller deposits can settle and gradually lead to a narrowing of the pipe.

This bottleneck also leads to blockage of the sewer pipe in the long-term and is often noticeable at an early stage: if the runoff smells bad or makes a gurgling noise, a plant mechanic should be consulted to eliminate the constriction.

Blockage removal

Many people first try to repair the clogged sewer pipe themselves and eliminate the damage on their own. Putties, household cleaners and even makeshift tools such as sliced water bottles are often recommended.

In most cases, however, the problem is not resolved – mostly the obstruction is superficially and slightly eliminated.

For example, deposits can hardly be completely removed by these means, which in the long-term would lead to a bottleneck again — and sooner or later to a new blockage. In addition, a layman can never really judge where the cause of the problem lies.

If a sewage pipe is clogged, you should call a specialist as soon as possible. He can investigate the damage on site and determine the exact cause.

Often, the cause is within the piping system, which requires dismantling – in some cases, the sewer pipe must also be renewed.

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Wastewater pipes are also renewed if they are made of lead and therefore pose a risk to health. A renovation also takes place when the sewers are no longer tight.

Basically, the expert can use a chemical cleaner with which the blockage is solved.

Sometimes, the problem can also be solved by flushing, where a large amount of water is passed through the pipe at high speed to remove impurities and deposits.

Image Source: LuminaNews

For less severe blockages that are not accessible without tools, the expert uses a pipe cleaning spiral.

This is either mechanically or electrically passed through the clogged sewage pipe and can thus solve the blockage. Persistent blockages can be removed with a connected drill or hook.

It is not uncommon for private individuals to apply such a spiral. Here, the problem often arises that the introduced spiral cannot be pulled out — the pipe cleaning spiral is then removed with great effort, again damage to the pipe can occur.

Furthermore, thermal cleaning is possible in which the interior of the tubes is dried. As a result, the blockages dry out and can fall off.

However, this procedure is usually only carried out with impurities — in addition, the wastewater plant would have to be switched off for this purpose.

In most cases, therefore, the mechanical cleaning is preferred, but the sanitary technician usually decides which method is best on site.

How to prevent clogged drains

It is always an unwelcome and unpleasant experience when one of your drains secures and leaves you with a mess.

There are many products on the market designed to correct congested drains, but it would be ideal to completely avoid the problem.

Not many people think ahead to prevent clogged drains — but there are several ways in which you can keep water running through your pipes smooth.

Pour into tins used cooking fat. Fat is very harmful to your pipes because it settles on their sides and acts as a trap for discarded food bits. Over time, the accumulation of particles that drain-clog.

Boil some water to keep the pipes clear. Either weekly or monthly, boil a kettle of water and pour it down each sink in your house.  

Clean strokes regularly. Once a week, remove all sink stoppers and pop-up stoppers and wash and rinse them thoroughly. Stoppers are first-class places for loose hair to get stuck and clog the drain.

Make it a habit to flush only “flushable” products into the toilet. Never flush large or heavy paper products in the toilet.

Installing strainers over the kitchen and bathroom drains hair, soap, and food residues — thus preventing them from getting into the pipes and clog, and thereby clogging the drains. Just be sure to keep the strainers clean.

If you notice your processes are running slowly, it’s time to take action. Remove the piston or/and the assembly before it becomes more of a problem.

What are the symptoms of a full septic tank?

When you flush your toilet, the wastewater flows into the septic tank where it settles. Solid waste settles at the bottom of the septic tank, while aqueous liquid is absorbed from the tank through small discharge pipes and near fields.

Septic tanks require little maintenance and must be pumped every three to five years. When your septic tank fills up, the drain pipe can become clogged, in tank failure.

1. Your toilets back up

One of the most important symptoms of a complete septic tank is slow toilet drainage or constipation.

Your normally well-functioning toilet may start to secure spilling sewage into your home, or it may require several flushes to drain completely.

This can encourage germs to breed and cause a serious health issues for both you and your family members.

According to Australian Government Department of Health, Hepatitis A, Trachoma, Diarrhoea, and Shigellosis are some of the prevalent bacterial and viral diseases people experience of poor toilet hygiene and sewage that is not properly disposed.

2. A wetland appears above the septic tank

If your septic tank is working properly, the area above and around the tank will be dry. If a wet, muddy area appears above the tank; your septic system may be full and overfilled into your garden. You can see sewage or even toilet paper in extreme overflowing cases in your garden.

3. It’s been more than five years since the last pumping

You should have your septic tank pumped every three to five years to avoid the tank from clogging or overfilling. If it has been more than five years since the tank was last cleaned, your septic tank is full.

3. Your septic tank smells

Normal, well-functioning septic tanks are odorless. If you notice a foul smell decomposing outside around your septic tank or in your bathroom, this can be a sign.

The smell can be persistent or can only occur in hot weather.

Here’s an illustration that shows how a Septic Tank works

Source: Amazon

Conclusion

Sewage backup can occur when different materials accumulate in sewer pipes. Grease, hair, dirt or other solid material can build up and eventually clog sewage pipes.

By following the proven tips in this article, you’re on your way to achieving a clog-free sewer drain and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

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