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Sluggish Sewer Ruining Your Weekend? Try This Quick DIY Fix For Temporary Relief

Nothing can ruin a weekend or holiday faster than a sluggish drain or clogged line that causes your home's drains to drain very slowly or not at all. If the problem concerns only one sink, tub or toilet, the problem can likely be remedied with a standard sink or toilet plunger. When the problem affects all the drains and toilets in your home, however, the problem is likely caused by a clogged sewer line between your home and your septic tank. If the problem has been ongoing and is getting worse over time, your best option may be to schedule an emergency repair. But if the problem is a new one and you are willing to get dirty, you may be able to use this quick DIY fix to clear the line and get your sewer flowing freely once again. Here's what to do.  

What to know before you begin

Before you begin, make sure that:

  • your home has an onsite septic system with a drain line equipped with clean outs
  • you can locate the clean outs and remove the covers
  • you have access to a water spigot with good water pressure

Gather the supplies you will need

Once you have verified the requirements above, take a few minutes to gather your supplies and do a bit of preparation before beginning. 

You will need:

  • a rigid garden hose long enough to reach from the water spigot to the septic tank
  • gloves, coveralls, boots and goggles or clothing suitable to keep you as clean and dry as possible
  • any tools necessary to open the clean outs (if yours are equipped with end caps, it is usually possible to twist or lift them off to gain access)

Once you have dressed in protective clothing, you are ready to open the clean outs, uncoil the garden hose and hook it to the spigot. Turn the garden hose on full force and begin threading it into the clean out, extending it down into the drain line in the direction of the septic tank. It is very important to make sure that the hose is pointing toward the septic tank, to ensure that no sewage is pushed back into the home. 

Continue working the hose into the pipe, working it back and forth to clear clogs as you extend it down the pipe. Be prepared to do this process very slowly moving the hose forward a few inches at a time to help clear any debris that may be in the pipe and push it toward the septic tank.    

If the hose becomes difficult to move, it probably means that have reached a clog. When this happens, continue moving the hose forward and backward a few inches at a time until the clog is washed free. Once you have extended the hose through the entire drain pipe and cleared any clogs encountered along the way, you can slowly remove the hose and replace the clean out covers. 

In most cases, this will help clear clogged drain lines for a short time so that you can schedule repairs at your convenience. If you were unable to move past a clog in the pipe or your home's drains are still running slow, you may have a more serious problem, such as a crushed pipe that will require a professional sewer cleaning service (such as Walters Environmental Services).