What to Do When Your Drain Line Is Clogged?

Clogged drains can cause extensive damage to your home and cost you thousands of dollars and hours of time. A clogged sewer drain can even pose health hazards by exposing your family to raw sewage. Be ready to manage this common household problem by knowing your options for repairs.


How to Use Drain Lines Correctly

The best way to avoid getting your drain line clogged is to use your drain lines correctly. Here are a few tips:

  • Be careful about what you pour down your sinks. Some common causes of clogs are coffee grounds, solid materials such as food scraps, and grease.
  • Be careful when using corrosive drain line cleaners. They can damage pipes, especially cast-iron drains. We recommend not using them at all.
  • If you have a garbage disposal, run cold water down the pipes after you dispose of food.
  • Keep your strainers and stoppers cleaned out regularly.
  • Never try to flush heavy paper products, such as paper towels, down the toilet, along with flushable wipes, feminine hygiene products, Q-tips, or dental floss.
  • Follow a drain maintenance schedule with a product made to reduce buildup in pipes. Herrmann Services carries a non-corrosive drain cleaner called Total C that we sell over the counter.
  • Septic systems should be inspected regularly, at least every two to three years. If you get a letter from the health department or county stating that your septic system has failed, Herrmann Services can help.


Fixing A Clog: DIY vs. Calling an Expert

Before you decide whether to call in an expert or try to fix a clogged drain line yourself, you want to make sure that you do indeed have that particular problem. Here are some of the telltale signs:

  • Strange bubbling or gurgling sounds from toilets, usually caused by air trapped in the plumbing
  • Water coming up from one drain when using water from another appliance; for example, water coming up from a shower drain when you run your washing machine or water coming up in the shower when you flush the toilet
  • Raw sewage backing up from your drain
  • Slow drains that resist all efforts to unclog them
  • Multiple fixtures, such as toilets, sinks, and tubs, clogging at the same time


Once you determine that you do have a clogged drain line, you can try a few things to see if you can DIY or if you need to call in a professional. One important note is that you should not use the plumbing system in your home if you suspect a clog in the main drain line. More water can cause additional backups.

  • If it’s a small drain like a bathroom sink, laundry tub, or shower, visually inspect the drain for a visible stoppage. If the stopper is removable, check it for a buildup of hair
  • For a toilet, floor drain, and some sinks, the next step after visual inspection would be to try a good plunger
  • If the drain is still clogged, in some cases, a trap can be removed to physically remove the clog but not in every situation
  • If these things don’t work, chances are chemicals are not going to do the job either and more often than not will cause more problems than they will fix


When these tips don’t work, it’s time to call in the professionals. Trained technicians have tools at their disposal not available to the average consumer.

  • Mechanical drain cleaning: An auger or drain snake is a flexible cable tool that may or may not connect to a power source. Some are mounted to a vehicle. The professional feeds it into the line down to reach the clog, and then twists, pushes, or pulls the cable to break through the obstruction.
  • Hydro jetting: Water forced through the lines under high-pressure blows roots and other material down the line. While anyone may rent jets, this is a task best left to the professionals. Using it wrong can damage your pipes and cause expensive problems.
  • Camera inspection: When augers or jets don’t work, the technician may use a camera to find the blockage. A tiny camera inserted in the pipes can find cracks in the pipes.


Risks of Trying to DIY

Except for in the most uncomplicated cases, it’s best to let the professionals do plumbing work on your home. Making your own repairs carries significant risks. Here are just a few of the dangers you may encounter:

  • Never attempt any drain cleaning efforts without proper safety and personal protective equipment. Chemicals can be toxic, caustic, and pose other dangers.
  • Clearing clogs in older pipes is more complicated because new products may not be safe for all materials.


Causes of Clogged Drains

A clogged drain can have a variety of causes. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Tree roots commonly interfere with plumbing systems, especially in older homes. The roots are drawn to the moisture around sewage lines, and they can find their way in through loose joints or cracks in pipes. Finding the equivalent of fertilizer in the pipes, the roots grow and eventually block the line. Toilet paper and other materials snag on the roots and block the drain line.
  • Flushing materials that are not safe to flush, such as paper towels, feminine products, or other types of paper, can block the sewer line.
  • Products listed as flushable have become a major source of clogs over the last few years, such as baby wipes, since they do not break down like toilet paper.


Why Choose Herrmann Services

Herrmann has been in business for decades, primarily because they know the value of remarkable service and remarkable craftsmanship. We strive to exceed your expectations in every way. When you need help with clogged drains or any other plumbing challenge, including water heater draining, Herrmann technicians are ready to help. Contact us today and let us get your pipes back in good working order.

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