The horror of watching raw sewage come backing up into your Indianapolis, IN home is something you want to avoid. You’ll never feel quite the same about your bathtub, shower pans, toilets, sinks, or drains after one of these events. Fortunately, there are ways to identify a backup before it occurs. When the sewer line that carries waste away from the house is blocked, you’ll notice the four signs that follow.
1. All Your Drains Reek
It’s not uncommon to have a single drain that emits a foul odor. After all, these features are constantly subjected to wet, organic waste. Tacky residues, like soap scum and grease, can coat the undersides of drains and the interior of pipes to create a malodorous mess. You might have a small piece of decaying meat trapped in your garbage disposal impeller blades or other buildup of gunk and bacteria that cause bad odors. Problems like these are often easy to resolve with simple drain cleaning techniques or by scheduling a quick drain cleaning service appointment with a professional.
However, if all the drains in your home are emitting a foul stench, it’s safe to assume that the problem lies deep within your plumbing system. In the instance of a blocked sewer line, what you’re smelling is wastewater and solid waste that has stopped moving. To avoid having the backup move closer to your home or into it, call a plumber right away. Pervasive drain odors are hardly a minor irritation when all drains are affected at once.
2. Your Drains Are Blocked or Slow-Moving
Most signs of a sewer line clog affect all drains and connected fixtures and appliances at the same time. Your sewer line is the sole avenue of exit from your home and all your drains converge onto it. Like smelly drains, blocked or slow-moving drains are a sign of serious problems when every drain starts under-performing at once. When you shower, you shouldn’t find yourself standing ankle-deep in water and you shouldn’t have to brush your teeth or wash dishes in sinks that are filled with your own swill.
Slow-moving drains can also cause problems with your dishwasher, washing machine, and toilets. If your appliances are suddenly acting up by taking longer to finish cycles, stopping mid-cycle, or restarting, an impending backup could be the issue.
With a clogged sewer line, using water-reliant appliances can also cause nearby plumbing fixtures to backup. Thus, if you turn your dishwasher on and your toilet overflows or your sink fills up with filthy water, turn the appliance off and call a plumber.
3. You Hear Loud Gurgling Sounds Coming From Your Pipes Throughout Your Home
Before your drains start moving slowly and emitting foul odors, you may hear gurgling sounds coming from your toilets or sink. These are an indication of an early clog. More often than not, they mean that your outside sewer line has been encroached upon by nearby tree roots and weeds.
The pipes that carry wastewater away from homes are rife with nutrients and moisture. When these pipes age and develop tiny cracks, tree roots and weeds quickly take advantage of the available ingress. Once inside, these growths flourish. Worse still, they catch and retain small amounts of solid debris as wastewater passes. Over time, these accumulations create a solid wall that prevents organic waste and even water from getting by.
If anyone in your home is sending “flushable” wipes down the commode, this can also be part of the problem. Unlike toilet paper, these products don’t rapidly degrade when submerged in water. If your pipes have been entered by tree roots, these wipes can create massive blockages that require costly interventions.
When drains and toilets gurgle, this is the sound of slow-moving water clearing a partial sewer line blockage. Although gurgling noises aren’t as bothersome as slow-moving or smelly drains, they’re the first and best sign that you need to take immediate action. Having a plumber address a partial blockage is often less costly and far less troublesome overall than waiting until blocked wastewater causes a whole-house backup.
4. You Have an Unnaturally Lush Landscape or a Smelly, Sunken Lawn
Sewer line breaks and sewer lines that have been encroached upon by tree roots and weeds can also have an impact on the look and integrity of your yard. The same in-pipe nutrients that allow tree roots and weeds to thrive can make your landscape look unnaturally lush if they start to seep out.
You should also be on the lookout for smelly, sunken spots where excess moisture has made the ground soft. Although severely cracked sewer lines are more likely to spew waste into your yard than send it back into your house, smaller cracks with continual leaks may mean that your sewer line has been entered by pervasive growths. In which case, a major sewer line blockage is already forming.
What to Do If a Whole-House Back-up Occurs
If you missed any of these four signs and already have a whole-house backup, turn off your water supply and electricity and exit the building. Standing pools of black water are incredibly toxic to both animals and humans. Even simply inhaling their fumes for too long can cause symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. If any of the wastewater gets on your clothing or skin, shower and change your clothes as soon as you can. Only a licensed plumber can resolve a whole-house backup resulting from a clogged sewer line.
Tips for Preventing Sewer Line Clogs
One of the best ways to prevent sewer line clogs is to limit what you flush down your commodes. Personal care wipes that are marketed as “flushable” often spell disaster for residential plumbing. Even when these items don’t get snagged on weeds or tree roots in sewer lines, they can get caught on tiny, rough protrusions at pipe interiors. Moreover, these products are known to collect oils and fats and adhere to one another. When they’re used in abundance, these strange accumulations eventually form “fatbergs” or “smallbergs” that clog residential plumbing systems or create major problems within municipal sewer systems. The only things that should go down your toilets are human waste and toilet paper.
It’s also important to care for your landscape. Remove as many aggressive weeds as you can, especially around the sewer line. Avoid planting bushes, trees, or other fast-growing foliage in this area as well.
Limit what you put down your kitchen drains. Garbage disposals aren’t aptly named. Putting too much of the wrong food waste down your kitchen sink can damage this appliance and cause eventual problems in your sewer line. When in doubt, throw food out rather than attempting to grind it.
Scheduling an annual whole-house plumbing inspection will allow your plumber to identify the signs of impending problems before a blockage spirals out of control. Plumbers can flush debris-laden pipes using hydro-jetting or hydro-steaming techniques. They can also use sewer line camera inspections to identify clogs and pinpoint their exact locations.
We care for residential plumbing systems in Indianapolis, IN. We offer sewer repair and replacement services, leak detection, plumbing inspections, and general plumbing repairs. We also provide water heaters, water softeners, sump pumps, and more. To schedule an appointment, get in touch with Hope Plumbing today.