A typical residential home will need to deal with four potential locations for a drain blockage:
- Near a drain or a trap
- In the main stack
- In the sewer lateral
- In the municipal sewer line
These locations are roughly the order that wastewater travels from a drain in your home and eventually into the sewer system. A blockage in any location other than the municipal sewer line usually falls upon the homeowner to repair. While blockages in traps or even the main stack are usually relatively easy to repair, sewer lateral blockages can be more challenging.
Evaluating Your Clogged Drains
If you're unsure of the underlying cause of a clog, calling a plumber is always a surefire way to diagnose the problem. However, you may want to determine if you can fix the problem yourself first. Before pouring anything down your drain or using a snake, you'll need to evaluate your clog and look for signs that it may be a deeper issue than you suspect.
Start by considering your home's plumbing history. Do your drains frequently back up? Have you been recently experiencing numerous problems with slow or clogged drains? Sewer lateral issues often build up over time, and over-the-counter cleaning products may partially clear the obstruction without solving the problem. If these symptoms sound familiar, you may have a sewer line issue.
You can also check if your other drains are running smoothly. If only a single drain seems clogged, the problem may be relatively close to the drain. However, note that lower drains in the home will sometimes clog first. If you notice the clogged drain bubbling or gurgling while your run water elsewhere in the house, stop and call a plumber.
Dealing With Potential Sewer Clogs
If you evaluate your clog using the rules described above and think you may have an issue with your sewer line, it's time to call in a professional. Diagnosing a sewer line issue requires more complex steps than you might expect, including using an inspection camera to get a clear picture of what's happening inside your drains.
Likewise, you can't simply use a plunger or a chemical drain cleaner to fix a sewer blockage. After analyzing the problem, your plumber will likely use a professional-grade auger or hydro jetting equipment to repair the blockage and clean your pipes. These steps are necessary to get your drains flowing again and ensure that the problem doesn't quickly return.
For more information about sewer blockage repair, contact a local plumber.