1) Multiple drains are backed up.
Solution: Check these plumbing fixtures:
Are all of their drains making a gurgling sound as they back up with water?
Chances are, you have a main sewer line clog.
2) Water backs up in odd places when using plumbing fixtures.
Do these three things:
- Flush your toilet. Does water start gurgling up your tub or shower drain? That means water is trying to leave, but is blocked by a sewer line clog. So, it goes back up into the lowest point, which is usually a shower drain.
- Use your washing machine. Does your shower drain or toiler start to overflow with water? Again, that means water is trying to leave, but a clog is blocking it and forces it to go elsewhere.
- Run your bathroom sink. Does your toilet water rise or bubble up? Most likely, you have a sewer line clog.
3) There’s drainage at the sewer cleanout.
“What the heck is a sewer cleanout?” you might be thinking. Well, it’s a white pipe with a rubber cap or, in older homes, a metal “mushroom” cap, which provides access to the sewer line, so clogs can easily be cleaned out.
To find the sewer cleanout, look around the sides, front and rear of your house, possibly near the bushes. If you have a home that was built before 1978, you may not have a sewer line cleanout.
Once you find the cleanout, screw off or pull off the cap. If the sewer water is flowing up and out of the pipe or standing in the pipe, this confirms you have a sewer line clog.
The first thing you’ll want to do is shut off your main water supply to your home. To do that, look for the water shut off valve, which is usually located:
- in the basement
- near the water heater
- in the garage
- in a water meter box located outside your home, near the street.
Second, call a professional plumber, who can clear sewer lines.
There’s usually a two-step process most professional sewer line cleaners take to clear a sewer line clog:
- Run a drain auger (also called a “plumber’s snake”) through the sewer cleanout to clear the clog. If this does not work, the plumber could:
- Use a fiber optic sewer line camera to look down the sewer line and figure out what to do next.
The clog could be caused by the wrong items being flushed, old pipes not being able to handle the traffic (especially if you have company over). Or, if you have an older home with mature trees on your property, there is a chance that the roots have grown into the pipes underground, causing the backup. These answers are usually not easy to identify unless a fiber optic sewer line camera is used.