Four Ways A Plumber Can Help Clear A Constantly Backed Up Drain

Drains that keep backing up could have any number of root causes that go beyond a simple clog. Deeper clogs can cause problems for multiple drains in your house, as can physical damage or blockages in your sewer drain pipe. Plumbing problems can easily get complex, but a professional can help locate and fix your problem in no time. Here are four issues they will look for.

Check for Pipe Blockage

One of the first things a plumber will look for is some kind of physical blockage in the sewer line itself. Because all the drains in your house end up at your sewer drain, one blockage here can affect your entire house. You may not notice the problem everywhere at once; drains that are closer to the sewer line and closer to the ground, like bathtubs, will be the first to start backing up, which can sometimes create the illusion that the problem is located under a specific drain.

After an inspection of the sewer line cleanout, which provides a look directly down into the sewer drain, they may use a snake, which is a tool designed to forcefully clear any blockage from the sewer line. An alternative method is using high water pressure to break up clogs. If this isn't successful, a camera may need to be inserted into the sewer line to see if the problem can be more easily located. Many common blockages occur near the cleanout, which makes them less of a hassle to get rid of.

Inspect Drain Vents

Another problem that can be somewhat deceiving is a clogged drain vent. Rather than carrying any fluids, vents regulate the air pressure within your drains to keep them running smoothly. If a drain vent is blocked, which can sometimes happen as a result of debris or even pests or birds making a home inside them, the lack of air will cause your drain pipes to slow down. If the pipes can't drain liquids and waste fast enough, it may appear as though your pipes are backing up even if they're completely clear.

Drain vents don't tend to have problems as much as pipes that regularly carry drainage, so they can sometimes be overlooked. They may also be difficult to try to clear out yourself, especially if they need to be accessed from the roof, so ask a professional to take a look for you.

Check for Leaks

Sometimes leaks are obvious, but other times they may be so subtle you don't notice, or otherwise hidden. Slow leaks in unused bathtubs, leaks from supply pipes within walls, or even underground leaks could all be contributing to a backup problem by putting more water into your drain system than it can handle. This can be a major problem if you use a septic system that depends on a leach field and a tank with limited volume. As one example, a single leaking toilet can waste over 200 gallons of water in a single day.

If a leak isn't immediately obvious, there are a few different ways to see if a leak may be contributing to your problems. First, stop all water usage in your house, then check the sewer line cleanout. If there is still water flowing through it, water is still coming from somewhere.

Next, turn off the supply of water to your house, then check your water meter. With your supply shut off, the meter should show zero water use. If it's still moving, however, water is still coming in from somewhere. This can pose a problem if the leak is saturating soil in a drain field or causing plants to grow and cause root damage to pipes. A hidden leak should be found and taken care of as soon as possible to help prevent more backups as well as water damage.

Look for Pipe Damage

Occasionally, a problem with your sewer drain could be more physical and permanent than a simple clog. Some problems come from outside, such as roots that penetrate the pipe and block water and waste flow, while others can come from the inside, such as a buildup of sediment that often occurs in older cast iron pipes. The pipe could also simply be damaged as a result of offsetting, where sections of piping become misaligned over time due to ground shifting.

Because much of this damage happens in the ground, rather than under a sink, the issue is often harder to locate and diagnose. There are a few signs that may give this type of damage away, however. Look for patches of damp or damp soil that may indicate underwater moisture, and look also for areas of plant life that are greener and growing faster than other areas. Combined with other symptoms, this could indicate physical problems with vital underground piping.

Seek out plumbing services for more information.