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Drain clearing

5 Warning Signs of a Clogged Drain


Most homeowners know that their residential sewer line transports waste water from their home to a main sewer line but give it little thought.  That is until it they have sewage coming up out of their drains!

A clogged sewer line could cause significant damage to your family’s belongings and may lead to expensive repairs and replacements.  Even having just one clogged shower or sink drain can be inconvenient… especially when it happens while you have company over!


Bathtub Clog

Is there a way to tell the difference between a secondary drain problem and a main sewer drain problem?  And is there a way to prevent severe drain and sewer problems?  Absolutely!  If you pay attention to these warning signs you could take care of a small problem before it becomes a much larger, and more urgent, one.

  1. The most common warning sign of a sewer line problem is a gurgling toilet.  If you notice your toilet gurgling after using any water in the house, particularly after doing laundry or using the dishwasher, you have a sewer line problem.
  2. If you use any water in the house and it not only causes the toilet to gurgle but water comes up the bathtub and/or floor drain, it is a clogged sewer line.
  3. If your kitchen or vanity sink is clogged but you can still flush all toilets without water coming up the bathtub and/or floor drain, it is likely that only the kitchen drain is clogged.
  4. If any one drain is slow, it is probably only that drain that is affected.  If all your drains seem to be slower AND your toilets gurgle, it is a clogged sewer line, usually from a build up of grease or roots.
  5. If the water level in the toilet rises higher and/or drops lower, it indicates a problem in the system.  It may only be that one toilet or it may be the beginning of a clogged sewer line.

Ceiling Water damage

If you have any of the above symptoms, call a plumber to prevent possible damage to floors, walls, ceilings or personal belongings.


If you have established it is a clogged main sewer line, do not use any water as the waste water cannot leave your home and will only back up, causing a mess and possible damage.

If you have a bad smell coming from any sink or from the basement, call a professional as soon as possible as it may not just be a clogged drain, it could be an indication of a more serious problem such as methane/sewer gas coming back into your home.

If you have dirt coming up any drain, in particular the floor drain, it may be caused by a break in your sewer line, possibly by roots.  Call a professional immediately.

For tips on how to prevent drain problems, please click here.  To listen to our radio ad on MyFM about the warning signs of a clog, click below:


Professional Plumber’s Tip:  A reputable plumber will clear your drain or sewer with the right equipment for the job.  If they suspect a problem with your drain while clearing it, they will recommend a camera inspection to determine the cause of the problem (like a broken line, illegal plumbing, backfall, severe blockage due to roots, grease, etc.) so they can offer the correct solution.  Watch out for companies that suggest a camera inspection before even trying to clear the clogged drain/sewer.  A camera inspection performed before clearing the drain will only reveal that there is a clog of some sort.  The camera cannot see through that clog if there is any problem with the piping itself.  Why spend money unnecessarily?  


Hazel Adams on

Recently our sink has been spitting up water every time someone uses the shower. I know that it is not the toilet that is gurgling, but do you think that my sink gurgling can be a problem with the sewer line? I would like to learn more about how to fix your sink from spitting up.

    Plumb Perfect on

    Hi Hazel,

    You definitely have a drainage problem. It could be a drain vent problem, a clogged shower or even plumbing not done to code. I suggest you have it checked by a licensed plumber. To learn more about your drains and how to keep them free flowing, please refer to our “Plumbing Tips” section and “How to Care For Your Drains”.

Dennis Sanchez on

You made an interesting point when you mentioned that gurgling toilet is a sign that your sewer line might have a problem. Recently, my toilet has been making a sound that could be described as a gurgle, but I always thought that was normal. I think I will call my plumber to come and have a look just to be safe.

    Plumb Perfect on

    Hello Dennis,

    It’s a good idea to have a plumber take a look at your toilet gurgling sound. It may be a sign of a potential drainage problem or perhaps a venting issue.

kali21x on

Hey guys I have been having this problem with my sink in the basement. It gets clogged almost on a weekly basis. The p-trap doesn’t look like anything i have seen before.

A friend of mine recommended this: … What are your opinion on this? Has anyone used it? Still wondering if I should purchase this.

    Plumb Perfect on

    Hi! It sounds like it could be a venting issue or perhaps improper backfall. I would suggest getting a licensed plumber in to investigate to solve this problem once and for all.

Brooke on

Our bathtub seems to be clogged. We have snaked it over and over. Used boiling water with bleach (recommended by the guy at Lowes) and even poured the Sulfuric acid down it. Finally, had to shopvac the water out of the tub. Nothing has worked. No other drains seem to be effected.

    Plumb Perfect on

    Hello Brooke,

    Sorry to hear about your bathtub problem. It sounds like a severe clog.

    If any plumbing alterations/renovations have been done in your home INCORRECTLY, it could cause such a problem.

    Pouring boiling water down a cold pipe is never a good idea and bleach can never remove a blockage. Bleach is only good for killing bacteria and whitening whites.

    Also, acid poured into a clogged drain very rarely clears a blockage and then it just sits there corroding your pipes and poisoning your air. Sometimes it may burn a small hole in the blockage but this is only a short-lived temporary solution.

    You will need to hire a LICENSED plumber with the proper equipment and knowledge to clear the blockage.

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