You probably didn’t expect to see sewage coming up through your bathtub drain just now, though you might have smelled it first and instantly knew something was wrong. So you can resolve the issue and prevent it from happening again, it’s important to understand that the problem is with your sewer line, not your bathtub!
Why Sewage Is Coming Up Through Your Bathtub
When raw sewage or questionable water is in your bathtub, the problem lies not with your bathtub itself, but with what’s beneath it—your sewer line.
When your plumbing systems are in working order, your bathtub drains tub and shower water down your pipes and into your sewer. Your bathtub and toilet drain down separate pipes until they reach the main sewer line, which is the primary pipe to which all drains in your house lead. Eventually, all the drained materials mix and are forced out of your home through one line: the sewer main.
When there’s a problem in the main sewer line, all the pipes that drain to it might be affected, too. If the main sewer line is obstructed in some way, all the material that failed to drain properly (including raw sewage) can build up, eventually coming up in odd places—like your bathtub.
How to Fix a Sewer Line Clog
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to clear an obstruction for your sewer line. There are a couple of things you can try to ensure loosen any obstructions that may be in smaller connecting pipes. However, some of these methods also come with some risk of damaging your plumbing system. When it comes to plumbing, it’s always better to call in the professionals.
- Turn off the water: At the first sign of a sewer line clog, turn off your main water supply. You won’t want extra water to flow into areas that are already backed up. Typically, the main shutoff valve is found in your basement. If your house has an outside sewer cleanout line, removing the cap will release the pressure in the line and force any sewage backup back down the drain.
- Check your vent pipe: When vent pipes become blocked, it prevents your sewer line from draining properly. Head up to your roof and search for your vent pipe, which is likely over your bathroom. Shine a flashlight to scan for anything that might be blocking the pipe. Pull out any obstructions close to the top with a retrieval tool.
- Snake the drain: Drain snakes can be very helpful when clearing clogs in your sewer line. Feed a toilet drain snake down the toilet, spinning clockwise on the way down, use caution with this method as you can cause permanent marking on the toilet finish. As you pull the snake out, cautiously twist counterclockwise. Next, remove the screws on the shower drain cover and pull it off. Using the same technique, push the drain snake down the tub drain. If your drain snaking is successful, the source of the clog will be broken by the snake, and both your toilet and tub will drain successfully.
- Call in backup: Still clogged? If your toilet and bathtub remain blocked after attempting each of these strategies, you likely have a bigger problem on your hands. Mr. Rooter Plumbing© will locate the source of the clog. No matter if your clog is caused by tree roots or cooking grease, our trained plumbing professionals have the equipment and know-how to restore your home’s plumbing.
The Root of the Problem
So, what could possibly be obstructing your sewer line, you ask? Well, there are five common things that that are usually the cause. Here’s a list of the five most likely things that could be responsible for stopping up your line:
- Hair – Slowly, hair can accumulate in your pipes, and often together with other objects, may stop drain flow.
- Food – Chunks of food from rinsed-off dishes can gather in your sewer line, forming a blockage.
- Grease – Cooking oils, grease, and fat are particularly good at clogging drains, and can be nasty to clean out.
- Nature – Dirt, rocks, twigs, tree roots or rodents can clog your sewer line.
- Objects – Any random foreign objects, such as bar soap bits, floss, jewelry and toys can cause a blockage in your line.
It’s not always easy to know immediately which likely suspect is causing your sewer line to be clogged.
Warning Signs That Your Sewer Line May Be Blocked
If you can identify the early symptoms of a sewer line clog in the works, you’ll be able to address it long before you step into a shower full of sewage.
- Slow and low – If you notice that water drains slowly from your drains, you may be witnessing a warning sign of sewer line problem. Usually the lowest drains in the house are the first affected; a drain in the floor will usually show symptoms before a drain in a sink.
- Gurgling drains – A percolating noise coming from your toilet or any drain in your home could indicate that your sewer line is becoming blocked.
- Common clogs – Toilets or household drains clogging frequently can be a sign that there’s something beginning to obstruct your sewer line.
- Waterlogged sewer cleanout – Some homes have a pipe that extends to the exterior of the house so that plumbers can more easily clear out blockages. Drained wastewater around the sewer cleanout is an early sign of a clog.
- Migrating water – Laundry water coming up the kitchen sink or wastewater backing up into other pipes is a sure early sign of a sewer line backup.
At the first sign of trouble, seek a solution to avoid permanent or costly damage to your home. Call Mr. Rooter for help at (855) 982-2028 or request an estimate online. Our plumbers will provide a solution as quickly as possible and treat your home with respect.
If you find that your sewer line clog is due to pests in your lawn such as rodents, it might be time to call The Grounds Guys. For lawn pest control services, The Grounds Guys can’t be beat. Like Mr. Rooter, The Grounds Guys is a member of Neighborly’s community of home service professionals.