Most homeowners have experienced the occasional drain clog. You plunge the drain or perhaps use a drain snake, and the drain starts flowing again. Having every drain in your home slow down or stop draining at the same time is a different story.
A plunger won't be of much assistance in this case. In fact, the correct way to address the problem depends on its cause. There are three main reasons why your whole plumbing system may stop draining at once.
A Full Septic Tank
If your home's drains empty into a septic system, your drain problems might indicate that the tank is full. Solids like human waste and toilet paper sink to the bottom of the septic tank, and they accumulate faster than they break down. When the solids start taking up too much space, there's not enough space left for water - so the water and waste you send down the drain won't have anywhere to go.
Other signs that you need to pump your septic tank include smelly odors in your yard, toilets backing up, and excessive wetness in your yard. Luckily, your septic company can pump your septic tank in the span of a few hours, and your drains should flow freely again.
Going forward, have your septic tank pumped every three years to prevent slow drains. If you flush cat litter, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, or anything other than human waste and toilet paper, solid waste will build up in your tank faster than normal and may lead to the need for more frequent pumping.
A Blocked Sewer Line
If you live in a more suburban or urban area, your home may be connected to a sewer system rather than a septic tank. There's a large pipe, about four inches in diameter, that carries all of your waste and wastewater into the public sewer line. The main drain line is prone to clogs, and when it does clog, every drain in the home can slow down or become blocked completely.
Signs of a clogged sewer line are similar to those of a full septic tank. Every drain will slow down, and you might notice foul odors coming from your drains. Sometimes, sewage may back up into a sink or tub. Water may also back up into your washing machine.
Your plumber can locate a main sewer line clog using a specialized camera. Many clogs are caused, at least in part, by tree roots growing into the line. Your plumber may mechanically remove the tree roots or even replace the overgrown line if the root growth is substantial. In the meantime, avoid flushing anything other than human waste and toilet paper. Napkins and wet wipes can get caught on roots and make the clog worse.
A Plugged Sewer Vent
Many homeowners do not realize that their sewer pipes have vents. The vents allow gas to escape, keeping your sewer lines at a low enough pressure to allow them to drain. Most sewer vents are on the roof. They can become clogged with snow, leaves, animal nests, or sewage.
When a sewer vent blockage causes slow drains, you'll often notice gurgling noises coming from the drains. You may even see bubbles coming up into a full sink or toilet.
The solution for a blocked sewer vent depends on what's causing the blockage. Your plumber can clear snow away and extend the vent to prevent future snow blockages. If debris is to blame, your plumber may use a grabbing tool to remove the debris and then replace the sewer line cap to limit future debris accumulation. Sewage clogs must usually be cleared with a plunging auger.All three of the problems above need to be dealt with by a professional plumber. If you're looking for a plumber in Miami-Dade County or Broward County, contact 1A Florida Plumbing, Inc. to make an appointment today.