6 Signs of a Clogged Drain

By Frank Gaborik | May 26, 2022

6 Signs of a Clogged Drain

a plumber can tell there are definite signs your drain is clogged

Clogged drains are a common but frustrating plumbing issue homeowners face. We’re all familiar with the annoyance of a slow drain, frequent clogs, and maybe some weird sounds and smells coming from drains-but it’s less known that these symptoms are all signs of a clogged drain.

Female plumber to fix your clogged drain

The clog could be surface level, potentially just a plunger away from being cleared, but clogs can also go much deeper than the average handy homeowner can reach. Drain cleaning services can help out with all drain clogs. If you’re unsure if you have clogged drains, look for these six signs. 

1. Your Drains Are Gurgling or Bubbling

Drains should operate in near silence. Gurgles or bubbling noises are both signs of a clogged drain, as it indicates there’s air trapped somewhere in your pipe. Air in pipes is a sign of a breach, a blocked vent, or even an issue with your sewer line as a whole.

You’ll most likely hear this gurgle coming from your toilet and shower drain, though it can happen anywhere. Gurgling coming from only one drain, not all the ones in your house, could indicate a singular air-trapping clog that isn’t affecting the plumbing of your whole home. In either case, having your drains cleaned will help you identify the problem and remove it. 

2. Your Toilet Won’t Flush

A toilet that won’t flush is a blaring indicator of a clogged drain, one you’ll likely want to fix as soon as possible. Sometimes a plunging session can do the trick, but if the clog is in your sewage line and not reachable by the plunger’s help, you have a larger problem on your hands.

Toilets refusing to flush are signs of a clogged drain

Tree roots in search of water can infiltrate sewage pipes and cause an obstruction. In some cases, sewage lines clog as a result of too much toilet paper, foreign objects, or sanitary items. All of these perpetrators can block your toilet and prevent it from flushing or draining. While plunging can be effective in some cases, you’ll likely need your drain professionally cleaned for more severe clogs. 

3. Your Drains Are Slow to Drain

Drains have one job: drain. If they’re performing poorly at this, that’s one of the many signs of a clogged drain. You may notice it in your tub, with your feet getting an unplanned bath every time you shower. Kitchen sinks may hold water even with an open drain, draining at a rate that isn’t practical for dishwashing and cooking endeavors.

slow kitchen drain means it's clogged

Slow drains are a sign of a fully clogged drain or one that’s just on the cusp of a complete clog. It can be tempting to dump drain cleaners down an uncooperative drain, but these products are at best ineffective and at worst bad for your plumbing and the environment. Frequent drain cleans are the best way to prevent this issue. To speed things along, call in a pro to clean your drains. 

4. Your Drains Have A Bad Smell

Stinky drains signal a clog in your plumbing. The foul odors can come from congealed food that’s begun to rot, usually in your kitchen sink. You may notice food coming out of your kitchen drain whenever you use your disposal, which indicates a clog near the drain.

bad smells from kitchen sink indicate a blocked drain pipe

Different substances and simply dirt and debris built up over time create nasty smells as well. In your bathroom, soap scum and mildew can build up and create a bad odor. Bad smells can also come from a rodent or small animal that has tried to burrow through your plumbing and got stuck. In any case, bad odors coming from your drains is unpleasant. It’s also a sign that you need your drains cleaned and unclogged. 

5. You have causeless puddles in your yard

Sudden and causeless puddles in your yard point to a clog in your plumbing. Clogs in the pipes around your home are usually caused by over-friendly tree roots, which can in turn cause a lot of damage to your plumbing. If you see random puddles, even during a dry lapse, it’s a warning sign you should take seriously.

puddles in yard could indicate a blocker sewer drain or water main

Tree root damage can get costly fast, as plumbers may have to root around your yard to find the clog and mend any damage. Clogs that have built up deep in your pipes can also cause these puddles. In those cases, you likely won’t have any damage to your pipes, but it’s tough to diagnose and treat without the help of a plumber. 

6. You Have Frequent Minor Clogs

If you notice you’re spending a lot of time with a plunger in your hand, your drain(s) may be nearing a severe clog. Even if you can unclog the clogs yourself, frequent clogs that return regularly are a sign of incoming danger. Take note of how often you’re experiencing clogs, even small ones, and consider having your drains professionally cleaned. Frequent minor clogs are both a hassle and a warning sign you should heed.

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