Sewer and Drain Cleaning Tips

Your sewer and drain systems aren’t exactly glamorous, but they are definitely valuable.  You probably don’t think twice about them – until they malfunction, of course.  When you spy water or sewage backing up into your bathtub or get a clogged drain and can’t use your plumbing fixtures, you quickly realize what an important part of your home these plumbing components really are.  To keep your plumbing system in tip-top shape, check out these sewer and drain cleaning tips.


No homeowner ever wants to deal with a clogged sewer drain – it means serious problems. A clog in the sewer drain prevents water and waste from exiting your home properly; there is nowhere for it to go. This means that the water and waste can back up into the drains inside your home. If this happens to you, immediately call a plumber. Stop using all of your plumbing fixtures; don’t run the water or flush the toilet or even use the washing machine. Any of these things can exacerbate the problem and cause more raw sewage to back up into your home.

Hopefully this will never happen to you. If you know what to watch for, you can address a sewer drain problem before you find raw sewage backed up into your bathtub. Use these tips to help you identify a sewer drain problem.

You Have More Than One Clogged Fixture

If you have one clogged plumbing fixture, the problem is probably with that particular fixture. If you have more than one clogged fixture at the same time, this is a sign that the problem is not with the fixtures themselves, but with the sewer drain. The most common example of this is multiple clogged toilets occurring simultaneously. In fact, the toilet is usually where signs of a blocked sewer drain occur first, because it has the largest drain pipe and connects most directly to the sewer. If you have a clogged sewer drain, it is very unlikely that your toilets will be working properly.

If you have a clogged sewer drain, you might also notice problems with your bathtub and shower. The drains for the tub and shower sit lower than other drains in the house (such as the sinks), so if sewage is backing up into the house, it will usually come up through the tub or shower first. If you suspect a clog in the sewer drain, check your toilets, tub, and shower to see if they are functioning normally.

Your Plumbing Fixtures Are Going Haywire

Sometimes, when there is a clog in the sewer drain, the other plumbing fixtures in the home can start behaving strangely. These are some of the unusual things that can happen to your plumbing fixtures if you have a clogged sewer drain:

1. Water backs up into the bathtub or shower when the toilet is flushed. A clog in the sewer drain prevents the water that is being flushed out of the toilet from exiting the home normally; it has nowhere to go. It starts to go out the drain, and then it re-enters the home at the lowest point, which is typically the tub or shower drain. If this happens in your home, call a plumber right away. This is almost always a sign that there is a clog in the sewer drain.

2. The toilet overflows when the washing machine is running. If the toilet overflows (or water backs up into the shower) while the washing machine is draining water, it is a good indication that there is a sewer drain clog.

3. The water in the toilet bowl bubbles when the bathroom faucet is in use. This is an important early warning sign to watch for; those bubbles are a sign that there is air trapped in the plumbing system. Get your sewer drain cleaned right away, before the problem gets worse.

Check the Sewer Clean Out

There should be an access point for cleaning out the sewer drains along the sewer main. Take the cap off the clean out point, and check for any signs of sewage or water backing up. If you can see standing water in the drain, then this is a sign that there is probably a clog in the sewer drain.

If you see any of these signs, call a plumber right away. A clogged sewer drain is a serious problem that should not be ignored. Call a plumber ASAP, before any more serious damage is done to your home and plumbing system.


Your drains have an important job; they take all of the yucky stuff that you want to get rid of and carry them out of your home and to the sewer system. If those drains get clogged, then all of that water and waste material can’t exit the home properly. Instead, it can back up through your plumbing fixtures. Don’t panic, though; you may be able to clear out a clogged drain on your own. Try these steps to get rid of a clog in your plumbing system.

1. Clean out any clumps of hair or soap scum that could be blocking the drain. Take the cover off the drain, and use your hands to manually remove any obvious clumps. If you don’t use drain covers, you should. A drain cover or drain strainer helps to prevent big clumps of hair, soap, and other debris from falling into the drain and causing clogs.

2. Use a drain cleaning tool to remove hard-to-reach clumps. You can only stick your fingers so far down the drain. If there are deeper clogs, you can remove them with a drain cleaning tool like the Zip-It. This is a long, narrow plastic tool that has gripping teeth running its length. Hold on the handle on the top of the tool, and insert the tool into the drain. Push it in as far as it will go, and slowly pull it back out. This will pull out any clumps of debris that are stuck in the drain.

3. You can clean out your drains using ingredients from your kitchen. Combine ¼ cup of salt and 1 cup of baking soda. Pour this mixture down the clogged drain, and let it sit for a few hours. Then mix one cup of plain, white vinegar and one cup of water. Pour this down the drain. The mixture will foam up and eat away at the clog. Afterward, flush the drain with cold water. Be sure to flush the drain thoroughly so that all of the vinegar is rinsed away; leaving vinegar in the drain for too long can result in corrosion.

If you have a clogged drain inside your home, don’t panic. In many cases, you can clear out the clog by following a few simple steps. However, if you suspect that you may have a clog in your sewer line, call a plumber right away. This is a serious issue that should be addressed by a professional plumber. For any plumbing concern, big or small, call Scott English Plumbing.

Our plumbers are experienced, professional, reliable, and prepared to tackle all of your plumbing problems. We have been maintaining and repairing the plumbing systems of clients in Orange County for more than 19 years, so you know that you can count on us. Let us handle the sewer and drain cleaning for you!