8 Warning Signs of a Blocked Sewer Line

How to Fix a Slow-Filling Toilet After Flushing

Homeowners have a lot to take care of when it comes to maintaining their property. From regular cleaning to mowing the lawn, there’s always something that needs attention. However, one crucial component of a home that often gets overlooked is the sewer line.

The sewer line is the underground pipe that carries wastewater from your home to the municipal sewage system. When it’s functioning correctly, it operates quietly in the background, and we rarely give it a second thought. However, when a sewer line becomes blocked, it can cause major problems and disruptions in our daily lives.

In this guide, we’ll go over eight warning signs that indicate a blocked sewer line. By knowing what to look out for, you can catch the issue early and avoid costly repairs down the line.

1. Foul Odors

A  sewer line clog can cause unpleasant odors to waft into your home. These foul odors often resemble the stench of rotten eggs or sewage, and they can emanate from drains, toilets, or even your yard.

woman covering nose due to foul odor inside the house

These foul odors are a clear indicator that something is amiss in your sewer line. When the line is blocked, wastewater and sewage can’t flow freely as they should. As such, they get trapped and begin to decompose, releasing pungent smells in the process.

Aside from being unpleasant, these foul odors can also pose a health risk to you and your family. Prolonged exposure to sewage gases can cause respiratory issues, headaches, and nausea.

If you notice a strong odor coming from your drains or yard, it’s time to investigate further. Don’t try masking the smells with air fresheners – this will only temporarily cover up the issue. Instead, call a professional plumber to inspect your sewer line. They’ll be able to identify the source of the problem and recommend the best solution.

2. Slow Drains

Another warning sign of a clogged sewer line is slow drains throughout your home. This can include sinks, showers, and toilets. You may notice that water is taking longer to drain than usual, or it may not be draining at all.

Slow drains can be caused by a variety of factors, including tree root intrusion, grease buildup, or foreign objects lodged in the pipes. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage to your sewer line.

slow drain due to clogged sewer line

Sometimes, slow drains can be resolved with a simple DIY method, such as using a plunger or drain snake. However, blockages that are deeper within the sewer line require professional help. A plumber will have specialized tools, such as hydrojetting equipment, to effectively clear the blockage and restore proper drainage in your home.

3. Gurgling Noises

You may also notice gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from your drains when there is a blockage in the sewer line. This occurs because the air in the pipe is unable to escape properly due to the backup, causing it to bubble and gurgle as water tries to pass through. 

Gurgling noises can happen with any type of clogged drain, whether it’s a sink, bathtub, or toilet. If you hear this sound consistently, especially when using multiple fixtures at once, it’s a sign that there is an issue with your sewer line.

In some cases, the gurgling may be accompanied by unpleasant odors. As previously mentioned, clogged sewer lines can cause wastewater to back up into your home, leading to foul smells. This is not only unpleasant but also a potential health hazard.

Ignoring these noises, or attempting to fix the issue yourself, can lead to further problems and potential damage to your plumbing system. It’s best to leave it in the hands of professional plumbers who have the tools and expertise to properly diagnose and resolve the problem.

4. Flooded Yard

flooded yard

Nothing is more alarming than finding a flooded yard. A clogged main sewer line can cause this, as wastewater has nowhere else to go but up and out of the ground. If you notice standing water in your yard or areas that are constantly wet, it’s likely due to a blockage in the sewer pipes.

In addition to being unsightly, a flooded yard can also pose health risks. Wastewater contains harmful bacteria and other contaminants that can potentially cause illness if exposed. So, if you have children or pets, keep them away from the affected area until the issue is resolved.

A flooded yard may also attract pests, such as mosquitoes and rodents, which are drawn to standing water. This can create an additional problem for homeowners and further compromise the safety of the environment.

If you suspect a blocked sewer line is causing your flooded yard, it’s important to call a professional plumber immediately. They will be able to diagnose the issue and provide a solution to prevent further damage and potentially save you money in the long run.

5. Frequent Backups

One of the most frustrating and inconvenient signs of a clogged main sewer line is frequent backups in your plumbing fixtures. You may experience recurring clogs in your toilets, sinks, or showers. These backups occur because the blockage in the sewer line restricts the proper flow of wastewater, causing it to back up into your home’s plumbing.

sewer backups causing flooded basement

Dealing with constant backups is not only inconvenient but can also be a source of stress. It can significantly disrupt your daily routine and make it difficult to use essential fixtures like toilets and showers.

Ignoring frequent backups can also lead to more severe consequences, such as pipe bursts. This can result in flooding, costly home repairs, and potential health hazards for you and your family. Moreover, attempting to clear these backups yourself can be messy, time-consuming, and potentially damaging to your plumbing system. It’s best to call a professional plumber to assess the situation and address it properly.

6. Patches of Lush Grass

Another sign that your drain lines may be blocked is the presence of patches of lush grass in your yard, even during dry weather.

These patches of lush grass can seem like a pleasant surprise at first, but they may actually indicate a problem with your sewer line. When the sewer line is blocked or leaking, it can release nutrient-rich wastewater into your soil. This can act as a fertilizer, causing certain areas of your yard to grow greener and more vigorously than the rest of your lawn.

If you notice these patches of lush grass, it’s important to have your sewer line inspected as soon as possible. Not only is this a potential sign of a serious plumbing issue – but the excess moisture from the leaking or blocked sewer line can also lead to other problems, such as soil erosion and foundation damage.

7. Rodent or Pest Issues

rodents and pest issues

As previously mentioned, a sewer clog creates an ideal breeding ground for pests and rodents. The standing water can attract insects and other creatures looking for a water source, while the buildup of debris can provide nesting material for rodents.

If you start noticing an increase in pest activity around your property, it’s essential to consider the possibility of a sewer drain clog. Ignoring the issue can lead to a full-blown infestation, along with potential damage to your home and health hazards for you and your family.

To avoid these problems, it’s crucial to schedule regular maintenance checks for your sewer line and address any issues as soon as they arise. This not only helps prevent costly repairs but also ensures the safety and well-being of your household. Additionally, proper waste disposal practices can help prevent clogs in your sewer line and reduce the risk of pest problems.

8. Higher Water Bills

Another telltale sign of a clogged sewer drain is a sudden increase in your water bills. This can be especially concerning if you haven’t changed your water usage habits but are still noticing a significant spike in costs.

When there is a blockage in your sewer line, it can restrict the flow of water and cause it to back up. This means that your plumbing system has to work harder to push water through, resulting in higher bills.

If you suspect your sewer line may be the culprit behind your increased water bills, addressing the issue as soon as possible is important. The longer you wait, the more water and money you’ll be wasting.

The Wrap Up

8 signs main sewer line clog

As you can see, a blocked sewer line can cause various issues that can impact your daily life and home. The key is to be aware of the signs and address any problems promptly. Don’t ignore even minor issues with your plumbing system, as they can quickly escalate into major and costly repairs.

By regularly maintaining your sewer line and practicing proper waste disposal habits, you can prevent clogs and keep your plumbing system running smoothly. Remember, a little prevention goes a long way in avoiding unnecessary stress and expenses related to sewer line problems.

Need help clearing a blocked sewer line? The team at Chicago Sewer and Drain Professionals is here to assist you. We know the ins and outs of sewer line maintenance and repair, and we’ll work quickly and efficiently to restore your plumbing system.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment.

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Thomas Parra

Thomas Parra is the owner of Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros, a trusted plumbing company serving the Chicago area. With years of experience in the industry, Thomas and his team have established a reputation for providing reliable, efficient, and affordable plumbing solutions to both residential and commercial clients. His commitment to customer satisfaction and his expertise in all aspects of plumbing have made Chicago Sewer and Drain Pros a go-to choice for those seeking top-quality plumbing services.