5 Signs of a Clogged Sewer Line

Updated March 18th, 2023

Plumbing problems, specifically a clogged sewer line, can be a major headache. While backups and damage to your main sewer line might seem like an issue to wait another day, the longer it goes unchecked, the worse the problem can grow. You might end up with raw sewage in your yard, sinks, and toilets, which may lead to significant property damage. To keep your home and family safe, here are five common signs your home’s main sewer line is clogged.

1. Slow drains

Monitor the drains when showering, washing dishes, or washing your hands in the sink. It’s common for soap scum, skin and long hair to clog the shower drain and slow water flow. However, you likely have a clog in the main sewer line when you notice slow drains in multiple home fixtures, including toilets, bathtubs or sinks.

Regular drain cleaning is vital to prevent such incidents in your home. Getting your main sewage line regularly inspected and maintained by professionals like Smedley Plumbing can help you avoid many plumbing-related issues in the future.

2. Water backing up in multiple drains

Another common sign of a problem with the main sewer line is water bucking in the toilet or sink. As waste steadily flows past the clog, it strikes air pockets, pushing air bubbles to the water’s surface. This may create gurgling sounds, and you will likely see water returning from a drain.

This blockage can be due to tree roots that have gotten to your sewer line, especially if you have an old plumbing system. If your sewer is built of concrete or clay, roots will likely make their way inside the pipe through the joints, eventually resulting in unusual sounds.

3. Odd smells

A foul smell is usually a sign something is wrong, especially if it’s a sewage odor. While you might not always be able to see a sewer line issue, there is a high chance you will smell it. Any smell of the sewer gas coming from your tub, sink, or drains in the basement is a telltale sign you have a clogged sewer line. Look for sewage being pushed back up via drains on the floor or the sink, as backups often push funky sewer gas up drains.

4. Flooded yard

If it hasn’t rained, but you notice flood or muddy messes in your yard, that could be a sign your main sewer line is clogged. You might also notice plants growing in a thicker or extremely lush patch. Grass and other vegetation might feed on nutrients leaking or stuck in your main sewer line.

5. Plunging becoming a regular chore

It’s not uncommon to find yourself plunging your toilet or sink now and then. However, if you frequently need to plunge your kitchen sink or toilet, there might be a clog deep in your drainage system. A clog’s impact on the water pressure may also lead to unusual changes in your bathroom or sink water levels.


A clogged sewer line can lead to expensive damage to your home due to expensive repairs and replacements. Therefore, if you notice any of these warning signs in your home, call a local sewer plumber or cleaner immediately to inspect your sewage line. Professional sewer plumbers will check your sewer line and give the best solutions for your home and family.

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