Why Are My Sinks and Bathtubs Backing Up? | APT

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Kitchen and bathrooms are the most used rooms in the house, so you expect the plumbing to work without fail. If there is an issue with the plumbing, it causes chaos in your routine, and it’s a relief if you find there’s an easy solution to the problem. However, there are times there is no easy fix and professionals need to be called.

When your sinks and bathtub start to back up with dirty water, you will need to find the cause and have it taken care of. If not taken care of properly, the backup may continue, spilling out onto the floor. Standing water will cause further damage to your home and frustration for you.


The Anatomy of Plumbing

Plumbing systems consist of a network of pipes, vents, connectors, and drain lines. Some are for the purpose of carrying water to your home, and some are for the purpose of carrying water away from your home. If you’re unfamiliar with plumbing, here are some common parts of your plumbing system and what they do.

Supply Pipes

Every home and business has supply pipes. These pipes connect either to the water company’s main or to your well. It has a main supply pipe which is how water enters your home. It’s always a good idea to know where the shut off valves are located in case of an emergency requiring the water to be stopped.

Hot and Cold Pipes

The hot and cold pipes run parallel through the walls with the cold water pipe transporting cold water directly to the sink and tub fixtures. The hot water pipe is connected to the hot water heater first then delivered to the faucets.

Drainage Pipes

Drain pipes are for carrying the waste water away from the home to the sewer line. The word “drain” has to do with any pipe or system that takes waste and waste water out to the main sewer system.

Vent Stack

A vent stack is a bit what they sound like. It is a vent pipe that helps to vent sewer gases out of your plumbing. It’s very important to ensure the vent stack is free from obstruction or blockage so that the gases can escape properly. When the gases aren’t able to vent out, there could be problems which include gurgling drains and toilets from the pressure that has built up from the trapped gas.  If the gurgling isn’t an apparent sign, there will also be the foul odor of sewer gas.

Overflow Drain

Another important part of your plumbing is the overflow hole or drain. The overflow drain helps prevent your home from flooding.  One will be located under the faucet of the sink and the overflow drain for the tub will connect to the main tub drain. These drains keep the water from flowing over the edge of the sink and tub.


Why Do Drains Get Clogged?

Clogs happen and can be either easy or hard to get rid of. They can be caused by fat, oil, grease, gunk, or other foods like egg shells in the kitchen sink drain or garbage disposal. Hair and other buildup combined with the hair can create a clogged shower drain. And if you have small children in the house, there’s a chance a small toy might have made its way down the sink or tub drain.

When a clog happens due to one of these reasons, there are a few ways to unclog the pipes. If you suspect it’s an obstruction that is retrievable, you can try using a wire coat hanger to hook it and pull it out of the drain. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection if you try this option.

If the clog is suspected to be something that won’t be easy to grab like grease or paper, a plunger might do the trick. If this doesn’t work, you can buy a drain cleaner at the hardware store. But if you’d like a non-toxic way of dissolving a tough clog, try baking soda and vinegar. Mix 1/3 of a cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of vinegar. The ingredients will immediately start to fizz so be ready to pour the mixture down the drain right away. Or you could pour the baking soda into the drain followed by the vinegar. The fizzing action will break down the gunk that is down the hole.

Baking soda and salt is another effective combo for clearing a clogged drain. After mixing a half a cup of each and pouring it down the drain opening, wait for 15 minutes then pour boiling water in after that. The three will create a rather powerful potion that will clear a drain.

Another easy way is to slowly pour just the boiling water down the drain. Make sure the sink is clear and pour the water in two or three stages, waiting several seconds between each time you pour. This works well with certain clogs – especially clogs due to soap and soap residue.

Some people even try using a wet and dry shop vacuum. While this can help with particularly tough clogs, a very tight seal would need to form around the hose for effective suction. Be sure to set the vacuum to the highest liquid setting and let the shop vac do its job. The suction might just be strong enough to dislodge anything that is in the bathroom drain.


Large Backups and Obstructions

It is always a relief when there is an easy fix to a plumbing issue. Unfortunately, the easy fix is not always the way it happens. When water backs up into the tub, it’s quite likely the issue is a blockage in the main sewer line. A sewer line obstruction is a major problem that could turn out to be a health concern as well. This cannot be diagnosed and treated by the average homeowner with home remedies.

Some sewer line clogs are considered a plumbing emergency, and these would require immediate attention by a professional plumber. Wastewater or even raw sewage backing up into the household plumbing can happen if main sewer lines problems aren’t addressed quickly and correctly. The plumbing in your home cannot be used until the problem has been resolved.

If a homeowner suspects that the main sewer line has the blockage or that the main line is the reason for the backup, call a reputable plumber to come and check out the issue. It’s likely that they will perform a video inspection of your pipes and the sewer to find the issue. Other signs that the sewer main is the culprit are a toilet that backs up into the tub, the toilet bubbles and gurgles when the bathroom sink is turned on, or all other drains are running slowly.

If there is an issue with the main sewer line backing up, you won’t be able to unclog it yourself. All you can do is clean up the water in your home and shut off the water while you await professional help from APT in the Orlando area.

In order for our plumber to deal with an obstruction in the sewer’s main metal pipes, he or she may use an auger or plumber’s snake to break it up and push debris out. Augers and snakes are often power-assisted or truck mounted for extra power for tough clogs. If this doesn’t fix the issue, a partial pipe replacement might be needed. The professionals at Advanced Plumbing Technology will know exactly how to fix the issue.

It’s a possibility that pipe failure in the main system in the form of corrosion or collapse is the source of the blockage. If old cast iron pipes were used as drain lines to take waste away from the home, they may have failed by now.

Cracked or collapsed pipes don’t necessarily result in a blockage, but if this has happened, tree roots and dirt may have crept into the pipe, and that’s what needs to be addressed. If this is the source of the problem, this might involve digging up your property to get to the drain line and replacing it with PVC.

If the problem does turn out to be a broken pipe or tree roots, then the repair could end up being expensive. If there is any way the plumber can clear the clog without digging, he or she will try. They may try a drain auger or high pressure water shot with a hose into the drain line. If the fix is an expensive one, check with you homeowner’s policy to see if they will cover the cost of repair.

Advanced Plumbing Technology is in the business of helping people get through the tough time that plumbing issues can cause. We are available 24/7 for any of your concerns, and we offer free inspections of your drain line and entire plumbing system. We can help with residential, commercial, and municipal plumbing problems. Contact us today and we will be happy to help you get your household plumbing and life back on track.