Why a Clogged Drain in Winter May Be a Mainline Sewer Problem

clogged drain in winterI recently had a problem with my car. It wasn’t all that severe. The battery was dead from old age, and it just needed to be replaced. Now, this is the sort of car maintenance I can basically do with my eyes closed. Or, at least, maybe with one eye closed and the other squinting, so I can see where the parts in the engine are. My point is, this is a pretty simple job, and I think in the course of my life as a car owner, I’ve done it at least a dozen times, never once having a problem—until recently.

This last time I had to replace my battery was kind of a nightmare. It took me forever to get the old one out, and when I got the new one in, I had it in a little bit wrong and the car wouldn’t start. I had to tinker with the dang thing for at least an hour. To put that in perspective, in the past I’ve been able to get that job done in less than 10 minutes.

Why did I struggle so much? Well, I blame it all on the winter cold, which in my opinion makes everything worse and harder to do, from car maintenance to residential plumbing. I don’t think cars break down at an unusually high rate in winter, at least not here in Sacramento, but I can tell you that plumbing problems are more frequent during the cold season. That’s why, today, I want to talk about why a clogged drain in winter may be a mainline sewer problem.

A mainline sewer problem is a serious issue regardless of the season, and it’s as liable to be as frustrating as my recent cold weather battery debacle. That’s why it’s important for you as a homeowner to know how to respond to a clogged drain in winter, which is a telltale sign of deeper sewer issues. So, stick with us today as we talk more about clogged drains in winter, warning signs something is wrong with your sewer mainline, and the importance of drain clearing.

Why Your Sewer Line Backs Up When It Rains, Clogging Your Drains

So, on that cold day I mentioned earlier, the one that gave me so many problems with my car battery, I think the temperature fell to roughly 39 degrees, which is just about as cold as it gets here in Northern California. Obviously, you can see why tinkering with a car in my garage was a bit harder than normal. While that sort of cold is unusual for our winters, temperatures in the high 40s are not, and neither is rain.

is my clogged drain a sewer problem?With the recent droughts and fires in our area, rain is really important; I for one am always glad to have it. It can, however, cause your main sewer line to back up, which will often start manifesting itself in your house as a clogged drain. We’ve talked in the past about why a sewer line backs up when it rains, but I think it bears repeating.

…if you experience a drain clog during an especially rainy winter day, call a professional to come look at your sewer mainline ASAP

Simply put, the sewers in our home just get overworked and the water has nowhere to go. So, instead of flowing out of your pipes, it starts to clog your drain. Excess water can also wash debris, sticks, and other clog-causers into your mainline sewers, causing problems that way as well. Either way, the takeaway here should be that if you experience a drain clog during an especially rainy winter day, call a professional to come look at your sewer mainline ASAP.

Other Warning Signs of a Main Sewer Line Clog

So, yes, a clogged drain is probably the most common sign of a mainline sewer problem. It’s not the only sign, though. There are others that you as a responsible homeowner should be aware of as well. We’ve gone over warning signs of main sewer line clogs in the past, but to refresh your memory (and hopefully also your sewers), I’ll go over them again now.

Here are the three signs of a clog in your main sewer line to keep a vigilant watch for:

  • Water backs up in your shower when you flush your toilet: Like a clogged drain, this is a sign that a deeper clog in your mainline sewer is making it so that water can’t get out of your plumbing. If this happens even a little bit, I suggest calling a professional plumber right away.
  • Your drains are slow or smelly: If it takes a long time for water to drain (even if it’s not quite clogged), or if your drains start to emit a foul odor, you could very well have a mainline sewer problem. Again, don’t mess around here. Call a plumber right away!
  • There is standing sewage at the cleanout: A sewer cleanout is a capped pipe that lets you easily access the sewer line and address clogs as they happen. It’s somewhere outside of your home and will usually be black or white. Once you find it, carefully unscrew the cap to see if there is standing sewer water in the pipe. If there is, you’ve got a clog and should call a professional.

The Importance of Drain Cleaning to Prevent Mainline Sewer Problems

So, how then can you ensure that you don’t suffer clogged drains in winter and other signs of mainline sewer problems? There are a couple of preventative measures I recommend. The first is always calling a trained professional out to do a full inspection of the plumbing in your house. This will often find potential problems before they become significant, allowing that professional to deal with them for less cost to you.

The second measure is calling a plumber out for a preventative drain clearing. I’ve talked about this in the past, but DIY drain clearing can be tricky business, leading to damage to your pipes by chemicals. Working with a pro will eliminate that risk. It will also make it so that you don’t have any looming clogs when the real rain of the cool and wet Sacramento winter starts to fall. It’s a win-win situation, and I highly recommend it.

Working with a professional for some pre-emptive pipe cleanings is a great way to make sure your home is as prepared as it can be for the wet and cool winter that is to come.

So, yes, a clogged drain in winter is nasty business. It can also be indicative of larger problems such as mainline sewer problems. Working with a professional for some pre-emptive pipe cleanings is a great way to make sure your home is as prepared as it can be for the wet and cool winter that is to come.

Put it this way: remember that battery I struggled to replace during the coldest day I can remember? Well, if I’d replaced it even a month sooner, I wouldn’t have had to deal with the stress during the wintertime chill. Think of your pipes that same way now. Have them checked out and cleaned so that you can avoid bigger mainline sewer problems during the uncomfortable chilly winter. Here at Bell Brothers, we’d be happy to help you out with all this, so give us a call now!

At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals can help you with your clogged drain in winter, ensuring that you never have to personally deal with a mainline sewer problem in your home. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

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