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Why are all my drains clogged? | Sewer Line Clog

by | Dec 25, 2023 | Plumbing

Multiple drains clogged at the same time

If all or many of your drains are clogged it is you have a problem with your main sewer line.

If you have a septic tank, the problem may be that your tank is full. You will need to contact someone to pump it.

For a sewer line, this issue can include multiple backed-up sinks and toilet waste draining into the tub instead of leaving the property.

All drain lines for a property will eventually converge on the main sewer line.

However the clog itself could be one of the drainage branches in your property that connect to the main sewer line.

Reviewing the mechanical blueprints for your home could help you identify where the clog could be.

Regardless the methods used to clear your drains are pretty much the same.

All plumbing in your home is interconnected

All of the drains in your home are connected via plumbing lines leading to larger branches leading to the sewer line. Gravity allows your lines to clear to the sewer.

If there is backup or clog at your sewer line, connecting to the main plumbing lines taking drainage and waste water from your fixtures, you’ll eventually notice the same clog at the drains in your home.

Common sewer line clog issues

Main sewer lines are wider than your sink or bathtub drain lines. Sewer lines take more time to clog or backup. This doesn’t mean main sewer lines can’t backup, it just takes longer.

  • Material accumulation – Materials that should not be put down drains often are. This includes disposable hygiene products such as plastic films, dental floss, tampons, bandages, or diapers. Other common household products that could be cause for drainage backup include food debris, cat litter, cooking oils, animal by-products, and paper towel.
  • Tree roots – Overtime tree roots can grow in and around the sewer line. This can cause obstructions, constrictions, or breaks in the main sewer line or plumbing drain branch. Eventually, this can cause cave-ins, rendering your sewer drain line inoperable.
  • Grease accumulation – Grease generally should not be poured down a drain. When it is in liquid state, it flows down your plumbing drain system, and into the main sewer line. As it cools, it solidifies. This can cause physical grease obstructions at your sewer line.
  • Ground shifts – If the ground surface around your drain line or the backfill in the drainage trench is disturbed, this can cause the sewer line to collapse. This can be caused by frost heave, disturbances from excavation above, or just settling in soils over time.
  • Old system scale buildup – Scale can build up in older pipes, whether metal or clay. Over time the scale will create a textured rough surface on the inside of the pipe, trapping material or debris that passes through.

Clearing the sewer line from cleanout

If you have access to your drain pipe on the main sewer line, open the cap to the main drain line. Some properties have access to this drain line from inside the property or outside the property.

There will likely be a surge of waste water and debris that the drainage clog has forced to the top of the drain pipe.  Allow it to run off entirely.

You will need to use an auger or plumbing snake to clear the clog.

Feed the auger or plumbing snake into the drain pipe until you hit the clog.

Allow the auger to run until the clog has been evidently cleared. The water level in the drain pipe will fall as you clear the clog.

Run some water down the drain pipe to verify that the clog is indeed cleared.

Utilize drainage cleaner product

There are products on the market, for drains, and septic tank drains, that work to clean your lines. If you still have access to one or more drains, these could be helpful.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the product appropriately to the free drains.


A good old fashioned plunger might work here too!

Take it to the affected drains and see if the pressure differentials created by the plunger are enough to clear the blockage.

Hire a professional

It may just be easier to call on the services of a professional drain cleaning company to assist you.

A professional drain cleaning service is not cheap unfortunately.

So it’s best to take preventative measures to ensure this full scale drain clogs like this don’t happen.

Preventing clogged sewer lines

Install hair catchers or food strainers – These cheap cost effective products catch food particles and hair prior to them entering your drain lines. Dispose of the caught refuse appropriately, and not by flushing it down the drain!

Do a monthly drain flush – Fill up a tub, sink, or other fixture, with water, and then allow it to drain. While this seems like a waste of water, the sheer amount of water being flushed down a drain at one time can help to keep the drain clean and clear of debris.

Organize a professional sewer inspection – You can hire a drain-cleaning company or sewer service company to video scope the line and make note of any problems. Scoping of drainage or sewer lines utilizes a remote camera to provide full visual inspection for the drain line’s whole length. Generally the same company can make recommendations on jetting the line, or using drain cleaner to clear the line. A professional sewer inspection is essential in identifying tree root intrusion and compromises to the integrity of the sewer line pipe.

Address issues as they arise – If you notice any of these common sewer drainage line issues, and are experiencing any form of clogged drains, deal with the problem immediately. If not dealt with properly, in the long run, this could cause you to be left with costs to excavate and dig up the yard to properly clear out the main sewer line, and replace sections of pipe.

Backwater valves

A backwater valve or backflow, or sewer backup valve is a valve that can be installed on the sewer line. It is designed to allow your drainage water to only flow one way.

In the case of sudden heavy rain fall or a clog past the point of the backwater valve, this device will serve to prevent backup of the clog into your lines, and ultimately into your home.

However having a backwater valve installed in your home or property does not mean you can now put whatever you want down the drain.

Rather, to keep everything flowing smoothly, and avoid having to access the backwater valve cleanout too often, refrain from throwing un-flushable things down the drains.

Grease traps

A grease trap does just what it says it does. It prevents grease from clogging your drainage system plumbing by trapping grease on it’s way. This is usually present in commercial scale kitchens and complexes.

A grease trap needs regular maintenance to stay operable including cleaning, pumping out of grease, and inspection.

If all else fails

Call on a professional drain cleaning company to assess the situation and take on the best course of action to clear your clogged lines.

Did you find this post helpful?

If you did, please consider sharing, so others can learn why their drains may be clogged, and the necessary steps to take to resolve the issues.

For all your Calgary drain cleaning needs call on RPG Calgary. They’ll be at your property in a heartbeat!

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