Sewer drains are a very essential part of our homes as they help carry away waste and used water. If they clog, it can be a total nightmare! Raw sewage will most likely back-up and out your drains accompanied by a foul smell – disgusting, right?
The good news is, most times, you can be able to prevent or unblock a sewer drain by yourself without incurring the expensive costs that come with hiring a professional. But, before we delve into that, let’s first have a look at what causes a blocked sewer drain to enable you to better address the issue at hand.
What Causes a Blocked Sewer Drain?
Generally, any objects flushed down that cannot dissolve or disintegrate in water are a potential hazard to your sewer drain. These include objects such as pads, feminine products, nappies, and hair among others. They tend to collect and form a build-up which eventually blocks your drain.
Blockages may also be caused by elements from your yard such as leaves and roots. This is especially common in old houses where tree roots tend to grow in drainage systems searching for water.
Pointers to a Blocked Sewer Drain
It is important to regularly inspect your sewer system for blockages. Any anomalies detected should be addressed as soon as possible before they escalate. Here’s what to look out for:
- A wastewater outlet starts draining slowly or altogether stops draining.
- Flushing down the toilet causes water to rise in the shower.
- Running any tap around your washroom causes water to rise in the toilet bowl.
- Foul smell coming from your drainage system.
- Gurgling sounds are produced whenever water drains.
Any of these signs indicate an underlying problem. The next step should be to find specifically where the blockage lies. If drainage problems are first detected in the toilet before appearing elsewhere, the sewer drain is blocked. Usually, toilet outlet pipes are directly connected to the sewer drains hence they are first to be affected. However, if your toilet is okay, and any of the above signs are detected elsewhere, the sewer line is working just fine. The problem might be in the particular pipes draining waste and dirty water away from the affected areas.
How to Unblock a Sewer Drain by Yourself
Once you determine where the blockage is, the unblocking process is fairly easy. But first, you need to turn off your water supply and plumbing fixtures. You should then seek to find your sewer clean outline. This is a small white pipe sealed with a screw-on cap. It may either be located on your yard, basement, or roof. Once you locate it, remove its cap either by hand or using a wrench. With the cap out of the way, the pressure buildup in the sewer line or sewer drain shall be released forcing water to drain away.
If that does not happen, you need to use an auger (drain snake) to remove any obstacles blocking water from draining. Its end is usually inserted in the sewer cleanout and the cable is pushed through the sewer drains. The auger is then connected to a motor which enables the tip of the cable to rotate like a drill and tear through obstacles.
A drain snake can be quite expensive to buy, hence it is advisable to rent one from a plumber. Alternatively, you may rent a high-pressure water jetting – a piece of equipment, used by plumbers to direct water under high pressure into sewer lines to push away or break obstacles.
In case the blockage is caused by tree roots the above processes may not work. Instead, you will need to purchase copper sulfate or a root killing form containing herbicide dichlobenil. These can be flushed down your drains where they kill the tree roots. With time, the roots rot away and disintegrate enabling you to flash them away. However, ensure to check if these chemicals are allowed for use in your particular region or country.
When to Call in a Professional
If you try the above methods and the blockage persists, you should call in a professional. But, first, check if your neighbors are experiencing similar issues. If so, the blockage is most probably is in the main sewer line. The local municipality is usually in charge of maintaining main sewer lines and should, therefore, be asked to help.
Also, it is important to note that the water jetter and snake auger need proper handling for them to be effective; otherwise, you may end up damaging your sewer drains and compounding your problems. Call in a professional if you are not confident about how to handle them.
Unblocking a drain by yourself is quite easy, especially, after identifying exactly where the problem lies. It also saves you the expenses that come with hiring a professional. However, sometimes cheap is expensive. A lack of experience may cause you to ruin your sewer drains and cause a whole lot more damage.
Therefore, unless you fully believe in yourself to efficiently handle the unblocking process, hiring a professional is considered more appropriate.