DIY Tips From the Warner Service Blog

What To Do If You Have A Sewer Back-Up

Posted by Warner Service on Dec 26, 2017 9:00:00 AM


A clog in your main sewer drain is a serious plumbing problem than can impact your health and cause extensive damage to your plumbing anatomy.

Sewer drains are designed to remove home sewage through underground drains. A clog forces this sewage waste to flow back into your home. Diagnosing the issue effectively can limit the harm to yourself and your residential plumbing.

So, how do you know if the sewer line is backed up?

A clogged drain is the result of broken pipes, tree roots, or improper disposal of hygienic products. By observing your home drainage system, you can directly  tell if it's a minor utility clog or a main drain clog.


The toilet has the most direct connection to the main sewer drain. This is beneficial because the toilet's daily performance gives you insight into any  plumbing problem.

If you notice water backing up into the bathtub or shower when flushing the toilet, a clog is in the sewer line.

This happens because the drain in the tub/shower sits lower than the drain in the toilet. Since waste water is unable to freely flow through the drain pipe, the water is forced to the lowest lying drain.


The sink can also be a useful tool when diagnosing a potential clog. Turn on a sink that's close to a toilet. If you notice the toilet water bubbling or slowly rising, trapped air is in the residential plumbing.

Another warning sign of trapped air is a gurgling sound coming from the sink when water is draining. Trapped air restricts the release of dangerous sewer gases from home drainage.


Much like your toilet, the shower has a low-lying drain. Water backing up the shower drain is a result of wastewater having nowhere else to go. This gives off a horrid smell of sewage.

If you notice a funky smell coming from the shower drain, you have a clog in the sewer line.

So, what should you do?

Clearing the sewer drain is a messy situation, but if you want to fully diagnose the situation yourself, you can.

If you have access to the main line clean-out, you can verify a clog in the sewer drain before calling a professional. Once you locate the clean-out, unscrew the cap and check if water is backing up.

If you notice waste or water backing up in the main line clean-out, you have a clog in the main sewer line. Shut off your home’s main water supply, and stop using any plumbing fixture. After that, call a professional.

Call a professional

Unclogging the sewer drain is best left to professionals because of the dangerous and difficult situation. If the clog isn't severe, a simple cleanout is less expensive than a camera inspection and just as effective. 

However, if the clog cannot be resolved manually, a camera inspection is a useful tool for locating where the clog is in the plumbing anatomy. A camera inspection (which is usually reserved for plumbing professionals) also looks for a break in the piping, and tree roots in the line.

This is beneficial because the clog can be fully diagnosed by an expert, and you'll be better prepared to prevent future blockage by discussing preventative maintenance with them.

The key to solving a plumbing problem is diagnosing the specific issue at hand before the action steps. The more you know about the situation before calling a professional, the quicker the problem can be resolved.

Luckily Warner Service has a plumbing troubleshooting checklist to help you diagnose any plumbing problem. This checklist keeps you prepared in case of a plumbing catastrophe:

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Topics: Maintenance, Plumbing, Do-It-Yourself