All About Sewer Lines and Drains

All About Sewer Lines and Drains

There are a lot of things about which you must become an expert when you own a home or business. You probably have researched and learned all about HVAC, roofing, appliances, and plumbing. You have probably mastered many of the ongoing maintenance needs for these parts of your property. You may even be able to diagnose your neighbor's issues. 

An area in which few people have expertise is sewers and drain lines. These components can be out-of-sight, out-of-mind; however, when issues arise, they can be a major headache. 

If you have found yourself researching sewers and drain lines, we want to help you get started with what you need to learn. Here is what property owners in western North Carolina should know about sewers and drains.

What You Need to Know About Sewers and Drains

Drains and sewers are vital parts of your home or building's plumbing system. Here is a brief overview of the roles they serve:


Sewer lines take all the water that goes into your drains out to the city's sewer system and water treatment facilities. If your sewer line becomes clogged, it can lead to issues including:

  • Sewage standing in your yard. 
  • Water backing up into shower drains when the toilet flushes.
  • General slow drainage of toilets and showers.
  • Sewage backing up into floor drains.
  • Gurgling sounds when toilets are flushed.
  • Sewage odor in your yard or building.


Drains are located throughout your house or commercial building. Drains and floor drains take water from sinks, toilets, showers, mop closets, and appliances through their respective p-traps into the sewer line. 

We primarily want to limit what goes down them to be just water; however, dirt, hair, and other items will often find their way into your drains. When they do, your drains can become clogged and require maintenance.

How to Identify Your Clog

Is it a drain clog or a sewer line issue? The main indicator that you have a clogged drain is water backing up in an area of your home or building. 

If it is isolated to a sink, shower, or toilet, your clog is likely not related to a sewer line issue. However, if there is some backup around floor drains or across multiple toilets and sinks, you may have a blockage in your sewer line. 

What Causes Drain Clogs?

  • Excess hair in sinks and showers
  • Improperly flushed items such as toys, paper towels, hygiene products, etc
  • Grease poured into sinks
  • Mineral build-up inside pipes
  • Cat litter flushed down toilets
  • Too much toilet paper
  • Dirt, soil, and leaves
  • Damage to pipes

What Causes Sewer Clogs?

  • Damage to sewer lines
  • Tree and plant roots that have penetrated the sewer line
  • Sagging sewer lines form shifting soil
  • Build-up of grease from sinks
  • Items that should not have been flushed

What to Do About Clogged Drains

You are likely familiar with the process of unclogging a toilet with a plunger. If your clog is stubborn, you may have to use a closet auger. This tool allows you to snake the drain and potentially free up the debris causing the problem. 

For sink clogs, plunging is an option. Fill the sink partially with water and plunge until the water drains. Otherwise, you may need a drain snake to free your pipes. For clogs that are not freed easily with a plunger, it is a good idea to contact your local trusted plumber

What to Do About Clogged Sewer Lines

In the process of unclogging drains, you may discover your issue is in your sewer line. The process of cleaning out a sewer main is not simple. 

If there is no damage to the line itself, a professional plumber will run a sewer line drain snake through the main cleanout fitting. However, the clog could be indicative of a line that has been damaged by root infiltration or sag. 

Regardless, if you suspect an issue with your sewer line, you will want to reach out to a professional plumber as soon as possible. This is not an issue that will correct itself. 

When it comes to problems with drains and sewer lines, it is vital to make sure you know what you are doing. Barlow Plumbing Service, Inc. has over 25 years of residential and commercial plumbing experience in our area. For Buncombe County, Black Mountain, Weaverville, and surrounding areas contact Barlow Plumbing Service, Inc. for more information about drains and sewer lines.