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How To Check Your Clogged Sewer Lines

Sewer Line

As a homeowner in Metro Detroit, we often take our sewer lines for granted, assuming they will dutifully carry away our waste without a hitch. However, the unfortunate truth is that clogged sewer lines can strike unexpectedly, disrupting our daily routines and causing frustrating and messy situations. 

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) estimates that more than half of all sewer backups occur in residential properties, and clogged sewer lines cost homeowners billions of dollars each year in sewer repair and cleanup expenses.

So, understanding the signs of a clogged sewer line, its common causes, and how to deal with it is essential knowledge for every responsible homeowner.

In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll unravel the mysteries surrounding clogged sewer lines. We’ll delve into the signs of a clogged sewer line that is lurking within your pipes, explore the primary causes that lead to these blockages, and equip you with the necessary steps to check and clear clogged sewer lines effectively.

What Indicates Clogging in Your Sewer Line?

If you’ve ever had to deal with clogged sewer lines, you know how stressful it can be. Not only do you have to get the line cleared and the problem fixed, but there’s also the stress of not knowing what caused it in the first place.

Clogging in your sewer line can cause a range of issues that indicate there may be a problem. Here are some common indicators of a clogged sewer line:

Slow drains

If you’re experiencing a slow draining toilet, it could mean you have a clogged line. A slow drain is defined as a drain that takes more than three minutes to empty. You may notice this issue when washing dishes or taking a shower. If your toilet isn’t flushing properly, it may be due to an issue with your plumbing or sewer system.

Gurgling noises

If you hear gurgling noises coming from your toilet or drain pipes, this could mean that there’s a clog in the line. If you notice these noises when using your toilet or sink and it doesn’t clear up after running water for a minute or so, it’s time to call in the experts!

Increased water bill

If you’ve noticed that your water bill has been higher than normal lately, this could be a sign of a clogged sewer line. If this happens over and over again, even after running water through your drains for several minutes at a time, it might be time to call a sewer cleanout professional with experience in unclogging pipes!


If your sink, toilet, or sewer backs up, it’s probably because there’s too much water in the line and insufficient space to flow through normally. When this happens, it causes wastewater to back up into your home or business.

Foul smells

If you notice an odor coming from your basement or bathroom, that’s a sign that something is wrong with your sewer system. Sewer odors usually come from organic matter like food waste or grease that has gone down the toilet or drains but has not been flushed out yet (it can also be caused by flooding).

Multiple clogged fixtures

If you experience multiple clogs in different areas of your house, it’s likely that there is an issue with your sewer line. This could be caused by roots from trees or plants growing into the sewer line or a pipe crack. Don’t ignore this problem! It can cause serious damage if left untreated.

Sewage coming out of cleanouts.

Cleanouts are small holes in your floor that allow plumbers access to your pipes so they can repair them. If you see sewage coming out of these holes, it means that something has gone wrong with your sewer line and needs immediate attention.

Overflowing sewer cleanouts

In case of a significant main sewer line clogged, you might see wastewater overflowing from the sewer cleanouts, which are capped pipes that provide access to the sewer line.

What Causes Clogged Sewer Lines?

The clogged sewer line can be a nightmare for any homeowner in Metro Detroit. It can come at any time and leave you with a huge mess to clean up, not to mention the potential health hazards.

Whether your drains are overflowing, you have a small leak, or you’re experiencing another problem with your sewer system, it’s important to know the common causes of clogged drains and pipes.

Here are 10 common causes of clogged sewer lines:

Foreign objects

Flushing inappropriate items down the toilet or rinsing them down the sink can lead to clogs. Items like baby wipes, paper towels, hygiene products, and even small toys should never be flushed or put into drains as they don’t break down easily and can accumulate in the sewer line.

Tree root intrusion

Tree roots are a frequent cause of sewer line clogs. Roots seek out sources of water, and if there are small cracks or joints in the sewer pipes, roots can infiltrate the system, causing blockages as they grow and spread within the pipes.

Hair and soap scum

This one may seem obvious—it’s hard to avoid hair getting caught in drains—but it can cause serious problems if left unchecked. Hair and soap scum is another culprit behind clogged sewer lines because it builds up over time, causing backups and overflows when water reaches its limit as it travels down pipes toward sewers or septic systems. 

Grease and fats

Pouring grease, cooking oils, and fats down the drain can lead to clogs. Over time, these substances can solidify and stick to the interior of the sewer pipes, narrowing the passage and causing blockages.

Collapsed or damaged pipes

Collapsed or damaged pipes are a common cause of clogged sewer lines. This can happen due to construction, earthquakes, other natural disasters, or even normal wear and tear over time as pipes get older and more brittle. If you notice any cracks in your pipes or if you have had any recent plumbing work done on your home, it’s important to check for damage before it becomes too late!

Flushing non-biodegradable items

Another common cause of a clogged sewer line is flushing non-biodegradable items into the toilet. Things like cotton balls, paper towels, and tampons should never be flushed because they don’t break down easily in water, which means they can get stuck in your pipes and cause problems later on down the line when they start to back up onto your property! 

Pipe misalignment or bellies

These are caused by the shifting of soil around a pipe that causes it to become misaligned or “belly” over time. This can cause clogs and backups in your pipes.

Mineral buildup

Minerals from water and soil can build up inside your pipes and cause blockages, which can lead to clogs or backups. You may be able to prevent mineral buildup by using a filter on your faucet or showerhead that removes minerals before they reach your plumbing system.

Flushable wipes 

These things are dangerous for the environment and for your pipes. They’re not biodegradable, so they don’t break down quickly, and they can cause serious damage to your plumbing system. If you have these in your house, get rid of them!

Weather conditions 

During winter, when snow is on the ground and temperatures are low outside, water inside your home can freeze and expand. This can cause cracks in pipes that lead to clogs.

What to do if sewer line is clogged?

If you suspect that your sewer line is clogged or experiencing any of the signs mentioned earlier (slow drains, backups, foul smells, etc.), here are the steps you should take to address the issue:

Stop using water.

If you notice signs of a clog, avoid using water in your sinks, toilets, showers, and other drains until the problem is resolved. Continuing to use water may worsen the backup and cause further damage.

Locate the main sewer cleanout.

The sewer cleanout is a capped pipe usually located outside your home near the foundation. It provides direct access to the sewer line. Find the cleanout, remove the cap to relieve pressure, and allow water to escape if it’s backed up.

Call a professional plumber or sewer specialist.

Dealing with a clogged sewer line can be complex and messy, so it’s best to contact a qualified plumber or sewer backup and repair expert. They have the knowledge, experience, and appropriate tools to diagnose and resolve the issue safely and efficiently.

Avoid DIY chemicals or tools.

Refrain from using store-bought sewer line drain cleaners or attempting to force the clog with plumbing tools, as they may worsen the problem or damage the pipes, especially if the cause is a tree root intrusion or a collapsed sewer pipe.

Inspection and diagnosis.

The plumber will likely perform a video inspection of your sewer line using a specialized camera to identify the location and cause of the clog. This helps them determine the most appropriate method for clearing the blockage.

Clear the clog.

Depending on the severity and cause of the clog, the plumber may use methods like hydro jetting (using high-pressure water to clear the pipes), augers, or other specialized tools to remove the obstruction.

Repair or replace damaged pipes.

If the clog was caused by a collapsed or severely damaged pipe, the Metro Detroit plumber would discuss repair or replacement options to ensure proper sewer function.

Preventive measures.

After clearing the clog, the plumber may provide advice on preventive measures to avoid future clogs, such as avoiding inappropriate flushing of items down the toilet, using drain screens to catch debris, or considering regular sewer line maintenance.

How to clear a clogged sewer line?

You’re not alone if your home or business has a clogged sewer line. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 50% of all sewer lines are blocked or partially blocked at any given time. 

Do you know how to fix a clogged sewer line??

The good news is that there are several options available for clearing clogs in your sewer line and avoiding costly repairs.

Here are some ways to clear a clogged sewer line:


The best way to learn how to fix clogged sewer line is to plunge it. Plunging is an effective and affordable way to unclog a sewer line and is the most popular method of clearing clogged pipes. The process consists of inserting a long rod into the pipe, then rotating it in order to loosen and dislodge any blockage.

Boiling water.

Boiling water is another great way to clear a clogged sewer line. When boiling water is poured down a drain, it will break up any blockage that may be in the drainpipe. The hot water also helps to soften any gunk that may have built up over time, making it easier for drain cleaning near me experts to remove it with their tools when they arrive on site!

Drain snake or auger.

Do you know how to snake a drain? A drain snake, also known as an auger, is a flexible, long wire coil that can be inserted into the drain to dislodge clogs. Crank or push the snake into the drain until you encounter resistance, then rotate or push it further to break up the clog. You can purchase a manual or electric drain snake from a hardware store.

Chemical drain cleaners.

Chemical drain cleaners are often sold in a powder form that you mix with water before pouring down your drain. Some chemical drain cleaners are also sold as liquids that must be poured down the drain and left for a period of time before flushing away.

Hydro jetting.

Hydro jetting is another option for clearing a clogged sewer line. This method uses pressurized water—usually from an industrial-sized hose—to blast through obstructions in the pipe. This method can be effective for removing large objects from pipes, but it’s not very effective at removing grease or other organic material from pipes.

Video inspection.

A video inspection is another way to determine the extent of your clogged sewer line. This can be done from a camera inserted into the sewer line or through a camera placed in a nearby pipe. The video inspection will show you where exactly your problem lies and whether it can be resolved with a simple sewer repair or if professional assistance is required. Video inspections require specialized equipment and expertise, so it’s best to call a Sewer repair professional in Metro Detroit for this task.

Sewer rodding.

Sewer rodding is a process in which an electrical cable is fed through the drain pipe and used to pull out roots, rocks, and other debris that may have accumulated inside your pipes. This method is most effective when there is no visible blockage from outside your home, but there is still evidence of debris building up inside the pipes themselves (such as excess water coming out of overflow drains).

No-Dig Sewer Repair Solution

One of the most popular methods of clearing a sewer line is using a no-dig solution by Motor City Plumbing and Drain. This method involves injecting organic chemicals into the pipe via a drill rig to break up and dissolve the clog. The NO-DIG system does not require digging up your yard or driveway. This method is typically used for smaller blockages, such as roots and grease buildups, but it can also be effective for larger obstructions if enough chemicals are used.

DIY Vs. Professional Sewer Line Cleaning and Repair

When you have a clogged sewer line, it’s easy to be tempted to try DIY tricks. However, sometimes these DIY tricks can cost you more and lead to severe damage. In that case, you may need to hire a professional sewer line repair plumber. 

But, if you know the right tricks, you can fix your sewer line. On the other hand, a professional sewer backup and repair service provider can not only fix your clogged sewer line but also give some tips to prevent it from happening in the future.

Confused? Which option is right for you: DIY or Professional sewer line repair?

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the differences between DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and professional sewer line cleaning and repair so that you can make the right decision based on your situation:

AspectDIY Sewer Line Cleaning and RepairProfessional Sewer Line Cleaning and Repair
Skill and expertiseRequires basic plumbing knowledge and skillsRequires specialized training and experience
Tools and equipmentLimited to basic household tools and a manual augerEquipped with professional-grade tools and technology
EffectivenessSuitable for minor clogs and simple blockagesEffective for both minor and severe clogs and issues
Risk of damageHigher risk of causing damage to pipes and fixturesMinimizes risk of damage with proper assessment
Safety concernsPotential exposure to harmful chemicals and fumesProfessionals handle hazardous materials safely
Root intrusion removalDifficult to address severe tree root intrusionCan effectively remove tree roots using specialized tools
Video inspectionDIY inspection is not possible without specialized toolsUtilizes video inspection to identify issues accurately
CostGenerally less expensive upfrontHigher upfront clogged sewer line costs can prevent costly mistakes
Time and effortRequires time and effort and may take longerEfficient and timely service by experienced technicians
Warranty and guaranteeNo warranty or guarantee on DIY workOften comes with a warranty or guarantee on the service
Environmental impactMay use harmful chemicals or disposal methodsAdheres to eco-friendly practices and proper disposal

Need Help with Clogged Sewer Line? Call Professional Sewer Backup and Repair Service Plumber in Metro Detroit!

It’s the worst.

You’re minding your own business, doing whatever it is that you like to do on a Saturday afternoon, and then… BAM! Your toilet starts overflowing. Or maybe your sink. Or even worse: your shower. And then you realize—you’ve got a clogged sewer line.

Or maybe you don’t know for sure that it’s clogged—but something is blocking your pipe and causing serious damage to your property.

We have good news: Motor City Plumbing and Drain can help! 

Motor City Plumbing and Drain is a family-owned, family-operated business that has been serving customers in Detroit for over many years. We offer the most comprehensive drain cleaning services in Detroit, including sewer repairs, trap replacement, water heater installation, and more. We are fully licensed and insured, so you know your home or business is protected while we’re working on it!

Our technicians are trained in all aspects of sewer repair and can handle any job, including:

– Clogged Sewer Lines

– Leaky Faucets

– Toilet Repairs (including toilet flushing)

– Sink Repairs (including sink drain)

– Sewer backups

– Water heater repair and installation

– Sump pump installation and maintenance

We also provide 24/7 emergency services as well as regular maintenance plans that can help keep your systems running smoothly year-round.

Call us today at (586) 585-1862 to learn more about Sewer Line Repair and Replacement in Metro Detroit!

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