Home // Maintain, Service & Unclog Your Drains: A Homeowners Guide // 12 Signs You Have a Clogged Drain

12 Signs You Have a Clogged Drain

How to Tell if Your Drain is Clogged

Dealing with plumbing problems in your home can be an exercise in ‘too-little-too-late’ if you aren’t aware of the signs preceding them. You don’t want to be the person standing in ankle-deep water typing in ‘plumbing services near me’ frantically on your phone.

With that in mind, we’ve developed a handy guide for homeowners to learn the 12 most common signs of a clogged drain and what to do before it is too late. Read on, think about your specific plumbing system, and see how you can apply these pivotal plumbing service tips.

12 Signs You Have a Clogged Drain

Not all drain systems are alike, but these tell-tale dozen signs are usually not good for your pipes.

  • Slow drainage: If your sink drains or appliance is not draining at a proper pace, it is almost assuredly a clog. Check that any switch settings or objects are not preventing draining to be sure this is the case.
  • Water backing up: This can follow a slow drain that ultimately clogs, or it can happen abruptly. Either way, as soon as you see a water backup, it is a sign to troubleshoot your drain for obvious blockages.
  • Bad odors: Rotting organic compounds or still water stuck in pipes can create bad odors emanating from your drains and sinks.

bathroom sink

Further Reading – Chapter 4: How to Clean Smelly Drains

  • Toilet overflowing: The obvious symptoms like water rushing up and out of your toilet always tell a story of trouble below the surface.
  • Toilet bubbling and/or not flushing: Most household toilets are simple and efficient systems. When there are issues, you should immediately check to make sure a clog isn’t present.
  • Rising water bills: If you have consistent water usage at your property but all of a sudden the bill is rising, it might represent a clog rendering the system inefficient. This is especially true if there is a break in a pipe where the clog is – a large outflow of water can be very costly.
  • Change in water pressure: Most pump systems will not greatly differ in water pressure unless adjusted or something is clogging it. If you haven’t changed anything, look for clogs.
  • Debris from water fixtures: Flushing or draining hazardous materials can create grime and gunk in your pipes. Oils, fibrous foods, packaging, and many other particles can come back through as a warning sign that your drain is clogged.
  • Unexplained puddles or dampness: If a drain is clogged, it will often create water buildups that can leak through problem areas in pipes. If you are noticing an influx of these damp spots, try to make them out and see if you can find the source.
  • Strange noises: Pipes and other structural support around your drain system can emit strange noises such as gurgling or creaking if a clog is present. These often are from water disruption or pressure on pipes.
  • Plant growth near water pipes: If there is a clog that leads to a slight leak near soil, extra plant growth can be a key indicator that too much water is escaping your pipe and drain systems.
  • Fruit flies and drain flies: These pests are attracted to the organic or hazardous materials that get stuck in clogged pipes. Don’t just swat them away – take their presence as a warning.

Depending on your region and location, there are plenty of other signs that drains might be getting clogged. This quick checklist is a good place to start, however.

drain cleaning services

What are the causes of a blocked drainage system?

We’ve found that these common issues are some of the things that can badly clog a drain.

  • Hair: One of the most common household causes of blocked drains, human and pet hair will lead to slow shower drains or sink clogs over time.
  • Broken pipes: Drain and pipe systems are often reliant on their counterparts to properly balance everything. If one pipe is broken, it can start to affect the rest of your drain system immediately.
  • Improper material disposal: Chemicals, solids, and food waste can all contribute to a clogged drain.

Can you pour oil down the drain? Our guide has all the answers – read more here.

  • Grease: Grease can solidify in pipes to cause blockages – don’t rely on the very imperfect solution of running hot water to ‘prevent’ a clogged drain pipe.
  • Toiletries: Cosmetics and other consumer compounds can contain chemicals that contribute to clogged conduits. Always be careful with particularly viscous toiletries and avoid putting them down a drain.
  • Damaged pipes: Similar to a broken pipe causing issues, warped or offset pipes can also cause inefficient systems.
  • Poor pipe installation: Install jobs near roots, poor design that causes pressure or buildup, and improper use of safety seals can all cause drain blockages via poor installation.
  • Foreign objects: Oftentimes, the simplest explanation can be the most frustrating – something is stuck in your drainage system. Whether this is an item that shouldn’t have been put down the drain (such as plastic or metals), or just buildup that turns into a solid, it all must go.
  • Water flow: If your municipal or private water supply is hard or contains impurities such as minerals that will clog the interior of your pipe, this will happen over time if not treated properly.
  • Plants and dirt: Organic matter such as leaves and dirt can build up and cause blockages in drains, and roots can begin to grow through pipes if there are structural deficiencies.
  • Heavy storms: Physical disruption of pipes can cause offset and imbalance systems – or even cause leaks and breaks. Harsh weather is one of the leading culprits for dislocating pipes and drain systems.

Effects of Blocked Drainage

When your pipes are clogged, bad effects happen to your home. Don’t let these things happen as a result of not treating your water systems correctly:

  • Unpleasant odor: Both a symptom and an independent issue that arises from clogged pipes, you don’t want resulting unpleasant odors invading your home. Especially as these bad smells can represent unhealthy particles in the air, it’s best to attend to them quickly.
  • Mold and pests: When your drains and pipes are blocked, they can contain contaminated water, mold, and even disease-carrying insects. These can manifest into airborne spores and other health risks, so act quickly if you believe you have a clog.
  • Leaks: The weight of standing water as well as rerouting or stopping water pressure can cause leaks in pipes.

Read More – Chapter 5: Critical Steps to Take When You Have a Leaking Pipe

  • Adverse health impacts: In addition to mold and pests, there can be other airborne or water-laden pathogens that create an unhealthy environment. You don’t want to be drinking contaminated water or washing yourself and products with it.
  • Contaminated water: Contaminated water can harm your pipes, skin, clothing, and food products. All things considered, the compounding effects of a blocked drain are nothing to put off, so strongly consider calling a plumber if you cannot unclog your drain with simple home remedies. 

bathroom sink

These are just a few of the insidious effects of a blocked drain – but there are plenty more that you don’t want to find out of. Don’t leave the health of your water ecosystem to chance; get professional advice and/or services today.

Clogged Drain Repair in Phoenix, AZ

There’s never a convenient time to have a clogged drain – and sometimes diagnosing and fixing them with home-based remedies is not sufficient. At Deer Valley Plumbing, we have decades of experience in helping homeowners in Phoenix live stress-free when it comes to the safety of their drain systems.

If you’re looking to schedule drain cleaning services or learn more about how to unclog your sinks, please reach out for a free consultation. One phone call could make all the difference between smooth waters and a home disaster.

Back to Top