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From A.B. May
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From A.B. May

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Everything You Need to Know About Clogged Drains

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

This guide will get you up to speed on everything you need to know about clogged drains: signs of a clog, how to fix a clogged drain, and how to prevent clogs in the first place. Our expert drain technicians can help you, no matter your clog or drain issue. Call anytime–we offer 24/7 emergency response.

Table of Contents

Signs Your Main Sewer Line is Clogged

All the water from your home’s faucets, showers, and toilets flows to the main sewer or drain line. That pipe carries all the water away from your home for treatment at a local sewage plant. A single clog can disrupt the flow and cause a significant backup.

A sewer line backup is a terrible mess to clean up. If the issue is severe enough, it can also cost thousands in repairs and potential replacement of pipes leading to and from your home. It’s essential to address clogs promptly to prevent frustrating consequences.

How can you tell if a problem is brewing in your main sewer drain line? Look out for the following signs and risk factors.

  • Clogged drain or toilet: A drain or toilet that isn’t flowing indicates a possible main drain blockage. 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. 
  • Slow drains: If multiple fixtures are slow, you might have a bigger problem.
  • Frequent use of a plunger. Repeated need to plunge can be a sign of a bigger problem. 
  • Raw sewage: Call an expert immediately if you smell or notice sewage seeping through your drains.
  • Tree Roots: Tree roots present a risk for sewer lines outside the home. A slow-flowing drain or gurgling sounds in the toilet is a good sign tree roots are at the core of your sewer line clog. 
  • Age: Sewer line pipe materials can deteriorate over time, leading to cracks, clogs, and breaks.

If you suspect you have a problem with one or more of your drains, don’t ignore it. Drain line service calls are usually inexpensive, and it’s critical to understand if you have a more significant situation to avoid overflowing water or unpleasant backups.

How to Unclog Your Main Sewer Line 

When you find a clog, it is usually time to call in a plumbing professional. You may be able to use a plunger for a localized blockage, but don’t take unnecessary risks with your plumbing system.

Our experienced plumbing and drain technicians can devise a practical approach to get the water flowing again. Drain clearing (snaking) and drain cleaning (hydro jetting) are two ways A.B. May tackles clogged drains and increases the longevity of your home’s plumbing. Drain clearing breaks up an active clog causing issues throughout your home. Drain cleaning or hydro jetting goes further by deep cleaning the walls of your pipe to help prevent clogged drains from happening. 

Most of the time, snaking the line will clear the clog. With the right tools, it can be a simple way to get water flowing again. Sometimes, we recommend a video camera inspection to ensure there isn’t a bigger problem in your sewer line. If blockages along the pipe’s walls limit water flow, hydro jetting deep cleans your main line and prevents future clogs. Keep reading to learn more about each technique.


Snaking uses a slender, flexible auger to dislodge clogs in drain pipes and sewer lines. Using a snake to clear a pipe works well for slow-flowing drains, occasional clogs such as accumulated hair in tub and shower drains, food lodged in the kitchen drain, toilet paper, or a small toy stuck in a bathroom drain. Snaking is an excellent, affordable option for basic clogs. Benefits of snaking:

  • If you have fragile pipes, this method is gentle yet effective at clearing the clog.
  • Inexpensive 
  • Great for minor clogs
  • Because snaking uses pressure, it can alert you to issues like tree roots in the pipe.

Camera Inspection

Plumbers used to have to make an educated guess about where to repair stuck drain lines. Today, a video camera inspection is the best way to determine where you have a problem with your drain lines.

During a camera inspection, a video line is fed through your main sewer line (the large waste pipe that runs from your house to the street) or through your branch lines (from your sinks and bathtubs). As it moves down the pipe, a camera provides a real-time video feed to see the problem and a transmitter to pinpoint the location of a blockage.

Once we locate the blockage, we can accurately explain your options for repair. Camera inspections save time and money and eliminate the need for guesswork. Call or click to schedule a video camera inspection of your home.

If you are having trouble with your drain lines, you can schedule a video camera inspection with us today.

Hydro Jetting

Hydro jetting is an innovative process used by professional plumbing contractors to clear and clean clogged main sewage drain lines. It is a high-pressure hose with a special nozzle that sends a powerful force of pressurized water through your pipes to clear anything in its way. Hydro jetting is a great option to really get things cleared out. However, if your plumbing system is older and fragile, the high pressure of the water could cause damage to those pipes. Benefits of hydro jetting:

  • Quickly eliminates clogs
  • Deep cleans the inside of your pipes to remove buildup and improve the flow
  • Removes dangerous blockages, including tree roots
  • Versatile enough to get the job done for all pipe materials.
  • Eliminates minerals, grease, pipe wall buildup, and more


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 toward accomplishing that goal. Here are some proactive steps to keep your sewer line free of clogs: 

  • Be careful with your Garbage Disposal. Do not pour coffee grounds or cooking grease down the kitchen sink. Learn more about what your garbage disposal can and can’t handle, and put anything that can’t go down the sink in the trash.
  • Watch what you flush. Every restaurant posts signs in the bathroom with a long list of things you should not flush down the toilet. That same list should apply to the home toilet–only flush toilet paper and waste. Don’t trust that “flushable” wipes are safe for plumbing – most aren’t, even if they say they are.
  • Install screens in your sinks and shower to catch hair. 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. Add screens to your sink, shower, and tub drains to trap hair and other potential drain hazards before they can cause a problem.
  • Use monthly enzyme cleaning treatments. Be sure they are enzyme drain cleaners, not chemical drain cleaners since those can harm your pipes. Never use harsh chemicals to clean your drains.
  • Soften your water. 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 also combine to create a clog slowly over time and corrode plumbing joints. 
  • Add a pressure-reducing valve to reduce stress on your pipes.
  • Take a look at your landscaping. Remove trees, bushes, and plants from any proximity to your sewer lines. Keep those roots far away from your buried pipes.
  • Plan to upgrade older pipes. An inspection can reveal the condition of your plumbing pipes. If corrosion is present, the drain lines might need replacement. 

These preventative steps can add years to the life of your pipes. A.B. May plumbing specialists are also happy to answer your questions about how you can take the best care of your plumbing system.

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.

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