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Signs of Drain Backups, How to Unclog Drains

How to Avoid a Draining Experience!

If you have running water in your home, here are a few important things you need to know about your drains!

At the kitchen sink

  • Let plenty of water run down the drain by keeping the faucet open for up to a half a minute each day.
  • Sink lines commonly plug because not enough water is flushed through them, especially after the garbage disposal is used.
  • Run the facet for about five seconds after you turn off the disposal. This helps flush the line.
  • Never pour hot oil or grease down the sink—whether or not you have a disposal.
  • About once a month fill the sink to the top with very hot water. Using a fork or other kitchen utensil so you don't scald your hand, remove the sink's plug. As the clean, hot water swirls down through the sink line, it takes much of the grease buildup with it.

To keep a toilet from plugging

  • Don't put anything foreign down the toilet except toilet paper.
  • Items such as dental floss, Q-Tips, baby wipes, or any other paper product cling to the roots in the sewer and cause an immediate blockage.

Don't rely on chemicals

  • Many people try chemicals before hiring a drain cleaning expert because they want to save money. Then they call the drain cleaner anyway because the chemical hasn't cleared the drain.
  • Chemicals can solidify in a drain line and aggravate the blockage. If the chemical doesn't eat through the blockage, therefore not flushing down the drain, the chemical sits in your sink line. It crystallizes, and then there is no way you can easily clean a sink line after chemicals harden in it.

Signs of Big Backups

When your sewer is plugged or your septic tank needs pumping, here's what will happen:

  • Water backs up out of your tub drain when you flush your toilet.
  • When you empty your bathtub, the water stop flowing and bubbles back at you or bubbles into the toilet.
  • When you empty your kitchen sink, the sink water backs up into the toilet.
  • When you flush your toilet, sewer water backs up through an outside downspout, patio drain, driveway drain, or the lowest floor drain in your house.
  • When you run a load of laundry, soapy water comes up into a toilet, shower, or floor drain.


Related Articles

More Articles:


I'm having a problem with our

By huskerjess

I'm having a problem with our old farm house plumbing. Every time we flush either toilet they fill CLEAR up before actually flushing. Once the decide to flush we here gurgling in all the drains *kitchen sink, bathtub, ect* We've tried chemicals but that hasn't done the trick. Any ideas?

Recently the toilet was

By Holly Richardson

Recently the toilet was blocked plumber came out and cleared the blockage, but said a part in the cistern was broke taking ages and I mean ages for water to fill having me have to top up with a jug! Anyway yesterday plumber fixes broken part toilet works fine then tonight put my washing machine on and all of a sudden hear my toilet running after washing machine finshes notice toilet still running I go and check and when flush cistern takes seconds to fill which is good but keeps filling I have now a very loud and annoying hiss and water running sound been like this for now a good couple hours please help can't sleep!!

Need a better seal on flap or

By daveforgus on February 23

Need a better seal on flap or a new flap. Some water is draining and the fluid master will keep kicking on to compensate. Replacement flapper are sold at any diy store. Very easy to replace

when i run either one of my

By golfpunk

when i run either one of my sinks it overfills toilet ive had a plumber over twice first time he said it was a airbubble and worked fine for a few days next time he said it was my sump pump same thing worked for a few it a problem with the leechfeild?

Reverse problem, not in a

By Elizabeth S 31

Reverse problem, not in a septic system. Our bathtub drains fine, but as it drains, it causes the toilet bowl (not tank) to drain out too. Is this more likely a clog, or something bad with how the lines are set up?

Bought an old 45 year house.

By Broco billy

Bought an old 45 year house. Had new washer machine and when it drains I can hear it at my kitchen sink. But the problem is that the water starts over flowing out the washer drain pipe so I went and extended the 2 foot pipe to nearly four feet. Worked great for 3 weeks then started to overflow again. So then I figures to cover both sinks completely with plunger while completely duct tapping the washer drainage line to force down the water at high speed, but then black water force it's way up both sinks and smell like hard iron and sewaGe but not sewage at all, make sense? What kind of backup do I have. I'm on city sewage no septic. Help me please !!!!!

My problem is that when I run

By kristystolz

My problem is that when I run my dishwasher or kitchen sink it starts to backup into my laundry room out of my washers drain pipe. When it overflows the water is a nasty brown/black color. Is this a clog or something worse? I have tried the chemicals and snaking it but nothing.

Kristy, I'm having the same

By Judy Wait

Kristy, I'm having the same problem, so I am wondering if you received a response to your question about your diswasher backing up into your laundry tub. Thanks! Judy

Hi Judy, There may be a

By Almanac Staff

Hi Judy,

There may be a problem with your air vents for the plumbing. If you have roof vents they may be plugged shut so no air gets in to push the water out of the pipes. We suggest that you contact a plumber to check your vents and drain pipes.

Upon moving in a week ago, I

By Xiamara

Upon moving in a week ago, I noticed that water drained very slowly during/after showers. Just now I was cleaning the toilet and I flushed and I noticed water gurgling back up from the shower drain with what looked like small amounts of waste.

I ran the sink for a few minutes to see what would happen and the only odd thing that I noticed was that the shower drain was gurgling and it looked like air bubbles were coming up from it as well.

What could be the issue here? Is this something a jug of Drano can solve? Is there a stronger solvent I can use? Or, do I need a professional to handle things?

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing your assessment of the situation.

Hi, Xiamara: Consult a

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Xiamara: Consult a professional. Soon. Good luck!

My toilet is clogged but when

By hilarys

My toilet is clogged but when we use the plunger it backs up into the tub. Put drain cleaner in toilet but since it has water in it and will not flush guess it didn't work. We have snaked the pipe on the roof all the way to septic and nothing. We have snaked the toilet a good 3 feet and still nothing. What could be causing this and how do I fix.

I'm having the same problem.

By Eveningstar

I'm having the same problem. I have a Spetic system n it's been pumped but my sink is draining into the tub n now the wax ring is broke so it's also coming out the base of the toilet. I can't take this much longer. Ugh

When we flush our toilets

By PITAmommy

When we flush our toilets clean water runs in our washer why is that?

We had a plumber inspect our home when we moved in and everything was fine.

Also if showering or using a sink and someone flushes the toilet or turns on the water our pressure decreases intensely do you know why that is happening?

We had a septic sewer back up

By Raina psoras

We had a septic sewer back up and the jacuzzi bath tub filled with sewage water on 2 nd floor? Is it cleanable or need replaced in construction. We had 2 floors flood. I worry it's inside the jets.....

My shower runs the water out

By Regina Pendleton

My shower runs the water out slow. Now water is leaking some where in my kitchen by th dishwasher but its never been used. My toilet is running ok.

Bathtub and kitchen sink are

By Tammy L. Stephens

Bathtub and kitchen sink are pouring out of washer drain. Husband tried to snake it, it went in a foot and hit like solid rocky material. Don't have the extra funds for a plumber. Need advise

My sink and bathtub in the

By KT710

My sink and bathtub in the upstairs bathroom has always drained slow. Over time it got worse and since the bathroom isn't used much we just let it drain slow. Eventually we stopped using the tub and sink entirely until we could look more into it. Now we are finding water sitting in our bathtub. It is always clean water only an inch or two. We couldn't figure out where it was coming from but when the water to the sink got turned off it stopped happening. Does this mean there is a something worse going on???

Acid is the best way to

By Clean my Septic Tank

Acid is the best way to unclog drains provided there are no toxic chemical used in it. It will definitely save you from a number of headaches while cleaning the drain quickly. Drains are hidden heroes in your home. If you’re lucky, you can go for years without thinking about them, but when dirty sink water suddenly won’t go away or a toilet won’t flush, they can be a major frustration. A plugged drain certainly demands attention, but fixing it is probably something you can do yourself. You’ll get faster results than calling Pumpco Septic. they offer excellent Septic pumping, tank cleaning, Plumber, sewer repair and drain field maintenance Services.

What kind of acid because I'm

By christie

What kind of acid because I'm having it where my kitchen sink is draining into my tub

My bath water keeps getting


My bath water keeps getting pieces of tissue in it, I am freaked out, plus I get fibers and black specks everywhere,
I am disgusted and feel like it is poison. I also find tissue forming in the water I get from the reverse osmosis, which I find in the dogs bowl.
It seems to form on its own, may come out clear and form into tissue, like toilet paper tissue. Please HELP!!!

In general, black particles

By Almanac Staff

In general, black particles in the water are related to a disintegrating or corroding piece of plumbing.

If the black specs are in hot water only (not cold), it may be related to your water heater, not the city water supply or anything poisonous. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance of the water heater or call a plumber. 

I have a pipe...I'm assuming

By Lblackmon

I have a pipe...I'm assuming a drain pipe...underneath the AC unit inside. A PVC pipe comes off the AC unit and goes down and drips water into this pipe/drain. The other day I noticed it was overflowing.
I'm a single mother, calling a plumber is out of my price range. I have snaked the pipe and nothing has come out.
Any other ideas?

I am having the same

By elica

I am having the same issue...I poured bleach down the pipe that is overfilling ....slowly but surely it went down completely. I read that your supposed to do this every year to prevent this from happening. You get yours fixed?

We have a backup as explained

By Hansx

We have a backup as explained by your article (our shower water came bubbling up out of a toilet) but it isn't that severe (fixes itself within 20-30 minutes).

What is the cheapest way to fix this? Snake it?

I work in a hotel. While one

By Kiley

I work in a hotel. While one of our guests was taking a shower, he said the water in his sink and toilet started to rise flooding the entire bathroom. What could be the cause of this?

Sewage backed up in a bathtub


Sewage backed up in a bathtub in my home. All toilets are clear and flush. What is happening?

That's a matter that is

By Almanac Staff

That's a matter that is beyond our skill level; we can only suggest that it could be a break in your waste pipe that carries waste to the public pipe. Over the years (decades), lead pipes, for example, can rust and tree roots can grow into them. If you have a septic tank, its line could also have a rupture. Best to call in an expert.

Not on septic system . Have

By pamela torrence

Not on septic system . Have double sinks ,one with disposal when I run the disposal and wash dishes the soapy water backs up in that sink and the other sink and what appears to be grass is in the water that enters. It eventually drains , what can I do ? Should I snake it ?

This and the matter above are

By Almanac Staff

This and the matter above are a bit out of our range, but your situation suggests (more specifically than the one above) that you may have a break in your waste pipe to the street/main line. The grass seems to indicate that you are getting reflux, so to speak, from the lawn that covers your waste pipe. The eventual drain you mention is natural: some of the waste water is slowly seeping out of the pipe at its break and into the ground. Snaking might get your some time (delay a possible replacement), but here as above, we can not be absolutely certain. Best to call a professional.

my railings is backing up

By dee green

my railings is backing up though my house we use lye in each area and wait for one hour be for we flush again and still having the same problem

After unclogging my kitchen

By Brittany Barnes

After unclogging my kitchen sink that had water in it, immediately my washer downstairs started rumbling. I walked down to the basement to find the washer had been moved 2-3 feet. Coincidence? Or does this sound like a pipe issue? Help

It's a mystery to us. It may

By Almanac Staff

It's a mystery to us. It may be a conincidence. Was the washer running? Were the items in it distributed evenly? Poorly "weighted" wash bins can cause a washing machine to "jump" while it's in a spin phase—yes, that far. Often there is a fairly loud "thumping" sound that alerts you that something is wrong; perhaps you did not hear it. If the washer was not running when you did all of this, we're as puzzled as you are.

The water in my floor drain

By pat czernik

The water in my floor drain next to the clothes washer rises near the opening of the floor drain when my clothes washer water drains into the standpipe.

I also put water in the floor drain to see if it will drain when water is added to it and it doesn't drain or lower the water in the floor drain immediately. Help. Thanks.

Has it been draining properly

By Almanac Staff

Has it been draining properly until now? It could be clogged but we're only guessing. We suggest that you consult a plumber.

I washed clothes yesterday in

By eydie

I washed clothes yesterday in the basement of our house. Upon returning to change to the dryer, I saw water on the floor and the utility sink filled to the top. My husband used a plunger and it caused water to continue filling from the drain into the sink. We flushed the toilets and ran water in the house and the sink continued to receive some water through the drain with what looked like remnants of toilet paper. We decided not to run water, go to the gym and shower and let it slowly drain on its own. Today, the sink is half full. He went outside and removed the vent cover because water was seeping through it and found toilet paper, hair and other household waste. After reviewing tons of videos, reading blogs and etc., we suspect there might be a block at the end of the sewer pipe that leads to the septic. What do you think? What steps should we try next.

Call in a professional.

By Almanac Staff

Call in a professional.

It sound like you have a

By Almanac Staff

It sound like you have a blockage in the main pipe going to your septic system. We suggest that you call a plumber.

My tub started backing up

By trece

My tub started backing up when my washer drained. After the washer was finished draining; the tub and toilet drained. It has only did this twice and then resolves. What could cause this? Everything had been draining fine all day.

Had a plumber replace 2

By christie

Had a plumber replace 2 toilets and install 2 new showerheads. Since then, when you use the bathtub, water starts to leak from the walls in both bathrooms and the other bathtub that was not used, has standing water.After about 5 minutes, the water recedes. Today, I used the kitchen sink and it made water leak in those bathrooms. I have a 3rd bathroom that was not touched by tge plumber and everything works fine.

Sink water comes out of

By Griselda

Sink water comes out of toilet which pipe
should I go look

Toilets are clear sinks are

By tmez

Toilets are clear sinks are clear. I snakes 25ft into the main drain starting at the septic end first. But water still wont drain out. Its coming out to the septic tank in a slow stream.

For slow bath drains because

By Jacy

For slow bath drains because of hair, check out The Drain Claw at You can unclog a bath drain without chemicals.

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