How to Diagnose if Your Sewer is Backed Up

January 6th, 2020

Sewer problems are never fun, but we are here to help! Want to make sure you’re sewer is not backing up? Stick around and I’ll show you the tell-tale signs of a sewer back-up.

The Cause

When a sewer is backing up, it is due to an obstruction of some kind in the line. This could be several things, roots in the sewer line, a collapse, or a foreign object. This could prompt a sewer repair. For more information on the cause of sewer issues, take a look at this article.

Sewer water in bathtub / Sewer water in floor drain

This is the most common sign. Here in Utah Valley (Provo, Orem, Lehi) we often have basements, and these will normally have a floor drain. When the sewer backs up with an obstruction, if you flush a toilet or use a sink, the water has to go somewhere. This involves coming out at the lowest drain fixture. Most often in Salt Lake / Utah Valley area, that means a floor drain. Toilet paper, water, and other debris will be coming out of this area. If you’re seeing this, you very likely need a drain cleaning.

Gurgling / Bubbling sewer

Another sign is that when you flush a toilet or drain a bathtub, the drain gurgles heavily. With toilets, this means bubbling in the bowl or bubbling in the bathtub or floor drain. This is because the water that was just drained is now air locked. It has to get air from somewhere, so it will draw the air from wherever it can. If your drains are making strange noises or bubbling, you very likely need a sewer cleaning

Bad Smell

Due to the drains drawing air from the inside of your home rather than the actual plumbing vents, it will remove all the water from the p-traps in your home. What that means is that all the sewer gasses will begin to come out from the sinks, and bathtubs. Yuck! That means it really starts to smell inside the house. This could be happening for a couple reasons, but one of the main causes that this could be happening is because the sewer is backed up. If this is occurring with any of the other issues listed here, you likely need a drain cleaning.

Slow Draining

If your sinks, bathtubs, or toilets are draining slowly, you probably need a sewer cleaning. The water when it drains is having too much resistance. If it can’t move quickly, it will not drain. Main sewer lines in older homes are infamous for several issues that cause water to slow. The most common being roots in the sewer. This could lead to needing a sewer line repair or sewer liner repair. A sewer cleaning can get it going for the time being.

Water Leaking From Under Toilet

When a sewer backs up and the water tries to come up from the toilet, this often wears out the wax seal under the toilet. This will start a leak under the base of the toilet, and when you use another sink, or fixture nearby, the water will come out from under the toilet. If this is happening, your sewer main might be backed up, and you likely need a sewer line repair or sewer cleaning.


If you’re having any of these issues, don’t try to repair this on your own. Some things are fine to do on your own, others are best left to a professional. Attempting to do a drain cleaning or sewer repair on your own can lead to serious damages. Drain snakes are very dangerous, and could even lead to serious injury. Contact a pro, and remember. It doesn’t hurt to call Expert Services- Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical! Our expert technicians will come out, with all the materials and tools to get started. We’ll do it right the first time, and make sure you have the peace of mind you deserve. Feel free to call us at 801-224-8118, or you can even skid the phone call, and book online.