No one wants to think about a sewer line backing up, but if you are not conducting regular sewer line maintenance in your home or watching what you send down the drain, you could find yourself with a smelly surprise.
Sure Signs of a Sewer Situation
One of the first signs of a sewer problem is usually your toilet. The toilet is directly connected to the sewer system by a large drain. So, if your toilet is frequently clogging or not flushing properly, that’s a good indication that something is wrong down below. Slow running drains in sinks, tubs, and showers may also be a sign of trouble, especially if the condition is occurring in multiple locations in your home.
Clogged toilets and slow drains may be mildly irritating, but what will really get your attention is water from your toilet backing up into your shower every time someone flushes. When the water from a toilet meets with a blocked sewer line, it diverts to the lowest point, which is typically your shower drain. This scenario can also occur when your washer is emptying. If you were wondering if you have a sewer line problem, wonder no more. This is a clear indication it’s time to call a professional.
A slightly less disgusting symptom of a sewer clog is what we affectionately call “burping.” Sewer clogs can cause air to become trapped in the sewer line, and under certain conditions the air is released. The air then travels up through the pipe and produces a burping sound as it exits the drain—except in this case, there is no one to politely say excuse me. This burping can also occur when you’re running water at the bathroom sink and air bubbles up in the toilet. Both are signs that it’s time to make a call.
What Not to Flush or Drop Down the Drain
Some plumbing problems around your home are preventable with a little help from you. Simply watching what you flush down the toilet or drop down the drain can make all the difference in preventing an emergency situation.
In the Bathroom…
You have probably heard of the damage that can result from sending flushable wipes down the toilet, but in case you haven’t, these little bathroom buddies can wreak havoc on your sewer system. Yes, they say they are “flushable,” but in reality these disposable wipes do not break down quickly enough or completely enough to pass safely through your sewer system. They may also meet up with other substances that have been flushed down the toilet or sent down the sink drain, and together they can be quite a force to reckon with. Just ask the residents of London who have had to send teams of workers into their sewers for days on end to break up these unruly, multi-ton blobs. Yes, multi-ton. Think “The Blob” but way worse than the 1958 version.
With that in mind, here’s a short list of other items we recommend not flushing:
- feminine hygiene products
- dental floss
- cotton balls
- cigarette butts
- paper towels
- baby wipes
- cleaning wipes
In the Kitchen…
Garbage disposals are great, but we are often overly confidently in their ability to grind up and get rid of anything we toss down the drain. Some foods are fibrous and can get tangled in the disposal’s teeth, while others can swell after mixing with water. Once you look at the list below, you’ll wonder what you can put down there. That being said, if you know you’re going to continue grinding up these items, at least do it in small amounts and run cold water before, during, and after you’ve sent it down the drain.
- fibrous foods, such as celery or corn husks
- grease, fat, oils
- egg shells
- pasta, rice, beans
- fruit pits
- potatoes and potato peels
An Ounce of Prevention
Nearly all plumbing problems around your home are preventable with proper drain and sewer maintenance. Have a qualified technician inspect your home plumbing system to identify any areas in need of repair or replacement and to determine any services you may need. Options include drain inspection, cleaning, and repair, as well as more comprehensive services like sewer jetting.
If you’re experiencing any plumbing issues, call a trusted advisor at HB McClure to make sure your drains and sewer line are flowing properly. HB McClure can diagnose any issue your home plumbing system may have. We serve homes in Harrisburg, York, and surrounding Central Pennsylvania areas. Call us today at 717-232-4328 or request an appointment online to have your plumbing system inspected.