Everything You Need to Know About Clogged Drains


We often take for granted how easily water flows in and out of our home, never giving it a second thought until something goes wrong. But once a drain gets clogged, the entire household comes to a screeching halt. From toilets not flushing to dirty, standing water in the shower, clogged drains can make getting ready for the day frustrating for everyone.

Now, imagine if those clogged drains built up when you were away on vacation. You could return home to find the entire house flooded with raw sewage.

Drain clearing from A.B. May is an important part of tackling clogged drains and increasing the longevity of your home’s plumbing. Drain clearing can help prevent clogged drains from happening as well as tackle any clogs currently causing issues throughout your home. 

Signs Your Main Drain Line is Clogged

All the water from faucets, showers, and toilets flows to the home's main drain line. That line carries all that water away from your home for treatment at a local sewage plant. A single clog along those lines can cause a significant backup.

A sewer line backup is a horrendous mess to clean up. It can also cost thousands in repairs and potential replacement of pipes leading to and from your home if the clog is severe enough.

How can you tell if a problem is brewing in your main sewer drain line? Here are a few things to lookout for: 

  • Clogged drain or toilet: A drain or toilet that isn't flowing indicates a possible main drain line clog. Remember, your home's plumbing is all connected. The clogged toilet could force sewage to back up in a bathtub or kitchen sink. It may start in one place but cause backups elsewhere. 
  • Raw sewage: If you smell or see sewage seeping up through your drains, you have a clog - a particularly nasty one.
  • Tree Roots: Outside the home, tree roots present a risk for sewer lines. A slow flowing drain or gurgling sounds in the toilet is a good sign tree roots are at the root of your sewer line clog.

How to Unclog Your Main Sewer Line

When you find the cause of the clog, it is time to call in a plumbing professional like A.B. May. Our experienced plumbing techs can devise a practical approach to get the water flowing again.

Can You Unclog a Main Sewer Line Without a Cleanout?

The sewer line cleanout is the first place a plumber will look to unclog your main sewer line. The cleanout provides plumbers with access to the main line. That access allows them to snake into the plumbing and loosen up the clog. 

What if you don't have a sewer cleanout? We run the plumbing snake through the toilet. That will mean removing the entire toilet bowl. That provides direct access to the sewer line. Only A.B. May should handle that type of repair. 

How to Keep Your Main Sewer Line from Clogging

Your main sewer lines and plumbing system are a lot like your car – it takes regular tune-ups to keep your car running. It also takes regular maintenance to keep your sewer lines from clogging. Here is a proactive step to keep your sewer line free of clogs:

  • Upgrade older pipes. An inspection can reveal the condition of your plumbing pipes. If corrosion is present, the pipes might need replacement. 

Common Causes of Clogged Drains

Before you can fix a clogged drain, it helps to know the cause. Here are common types of clogs that might be affecting your drain. 

Random, Everyday Items

Every restaurant posts signs in the bathroom with a long list of things that you should not flush down the toilet. That same list should apply to the home toilet. It should only be toilet paper and waste. Don’t trust that “flushable” wipes are safe for plumbing - most aren’t, even if they say they are.


Everyone sheds between 50 and 100 strands of hair each day. Most of that shedding happens during a shower. Over time, those hairs can tangle up and trigger a clog.

Soap Scum 

Soap scum can build up to cause a clog when you have hard water (water with high mineral content). Soap scum and hard water minerals combine to create a clog slowly over time. 

Best Ways to Unclog a Drain

A clogged drain leads to an overflowing sink, toilet, or shower. Overflowing water leads to water damage to your home. At the first sign of a clogged drain, you can deploy these options to unclog that drain: 

  • Plungers: You can use a plunger for the sink or the toilet. Plungers form an airtight seal that pushes the water through the pipes and forces down the clog. When using a plunger, the main hindrance to clearing a drain is the configuration of the plumbing pipes. For example, a bathroom sink is problematic for a plunger.
  • Hair removal tools: These tools are long plastic cords with spikes. You push the device down the drain, twist it, and pull up the hair. 
  • Cleaning the sink trap: Every sink has a plastic or metal P-trap drain below the sink. This unclogging involves wrenching loose the sink trap and removing and cleaning it. This type of repair can be labor-intensive and messy. 
  • Drain snakes: Professional plumbers use a mechanical drain snake to unclog plumbing blockages. The snake is a flexible metal cable inserted into the drain to act as a corkscrew to remove the clog. 

How to Avoid a Clogged Drain

The best approach to avoid dealing with a clogged drain is to never have one in the first place. Adjustments in your daily routine can go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. Here's what you can do: 

  • Pour boiling water down the drain. That can prevent a buildup in the pipes. 
  • Inspect your bath and shower drains for worn-out drain screens and replace them.
  • Schedule annual inspections with A.B. May. This will reveal any plumbing problems, and they can be addressed ASAP to avoid clogged drains now and in the future.
  • Do not pour coffee grounds or cooking grease down the garbage disposal. Learn more about what your garbage disposal, if you have one, can and can’t handle. Throw anything that can’t go down the sink in the trash.

Before You Go

You now have all the information necessary to keep your drains free from clogs and to recognize the early signs of a clogged drain. If a clog happens, count on A.B. May to provide a rapid plumbing service to repair your problem. We'll get the water flowing again fast. Contact us today for all your clogged drain needs.