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Imagine this: You’re working from home in your cozy Medina, WA bungalow, enjoying a quiet afternoon when suddenly, multiple drains in your house start backing up. Or, worse, you notice a foul smell and soggy patches in your meticulously landscaped Somerset yard. These are red flags signaling a potential clog in your main sewer line – a problem that demands immediate attention. As per the City of Bellevue, WA, the most common cause of sewer backups is flushing items other than toilet paper, human waste, and water. This includes things like wipes, diapers, and grease. These items can clog pipes and lead to backups. Article covers tips and tricks on Preventing Sewer Backups.

While Bellevue homeowners are known for their tech-savvy, DIY spirit, tackling a main sewer line clog is a different beast. This blog from Green House Plumbing and Heating will help you understand the signs of a main sewer line issue, explore potential DIY solutions (with caution!), and recognize when it’s time to call in the experts.

Main Sewer Line Clogs: More Than Just a Drain Issue

Your main sewer line is the underground pipeline responsible for carrying wastewater away from your Bellevue home and into the city’s sewer system. It’s the backbone of your plumbing, and when it becomes blocked, the consequences can be far-reaching and unpleasant:

  • Multiple Backups: One of the most telltale signs of a main sewer line clog is multiple drains backing up simultaneously or in rapid succession. This means the blockage is beyond any individual fixture and is affecting the entire system. You might notice your toilet, sinks, shower, and even floor drains all struggling to drain or even overflowing.
  • Gurgling Sounds: If you hear gurgling or bubbling noises coming from your drains when you flush the toilet or run water, it’s likely a sign of trapped air trying to escape past a blockage in the main line. Think of it like a traffic jam in your pipes – the gurgling is the sound of water and air struggling to get through.
  • Foul Odors: Sewage backups create a pungent, unmistakable odor that can quickly permeate your Bellevue home. If you notice a sewage smell coming from your drains, yard, or basement, it’s a sure sign of a problem that needs immediate attention.
  • Slow Drainage: Even if you haven’t experienced a full-blown backup, consistently slow drainage in multiple fixtures could indicate a partial blockage in the main sewer line. This is a warning sign that should not be ignored, as the clog will likely worsen over time.
  • Outdoor Clues: Soggy patches in your yard, especially in areas where the sewer line runs, can be a sign of a leak or backup. You might also notice sewage seeping up from the ground or even see sinkholes forming in severe cases.

DIY Solutions: Should You Tackle a Main Sewer Line Clog Yourself?

While tackling a clogged kitchen sink or toilet with a plunger might be a familiar DIY task for Bellevue homeowners, attempting to clear a main sewer line clog yourself comes with risks and requires careful consideration. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Know Your Limits: DIY methods are only suitable for minor clogs located near the cleanout opening (typically found on a pipe near the foundation of your Bellevue home). If the clog is deeper or caused by a more significant obstruction like tree roots or a collapsed pipe, professional help is the safest and most effective option.
  • Safety First: Sewer lines contain harmful bacteria and gases, and working with them without proper precautions can pose health risks. Professional plumbers have the training and protective gear to handle these hazards safely.
  • Risk of Damage: Incorrectly using tools or harsh chemicals can damage your sewer line, potentially leading to costly repairs.
  • Bellevue Regulations: It’s crucial to understand and comply with Bellevue’s local regulations regarding sewer line maintenance and repairs. Unauthorized work could result in fines or complications.

DIY Methods for Bellevue Homeowners (Proceed with Caution!)

If you’re confident in your DIY abilities and the clog seems minor, you can try these two methods:

  1. Sewer Line Plunger: A regular plunger might not be powerful enough to clear a main sewer line clog. Invest in a sewer plunger, which has a longer handle and a flange designed to fit snugly over the cleanout opening. Fill the pipe with water, place the plunger over the opening, and plunge vigorously for 20-30 seconds. Repeat several times if needed.
  2. Drain Snake (Auger): If the plunger fails, you can try using a drain snake. Feed the snake into the cleanout opening and slowly rotate the handle clockwise while pushing it forward. If you encounter resistance, gently twist the snake back and forth to try and break through the clog.

Caution: If you feel significant resistance or the clog doesn’t clear after a few attempts, stop immediately and call a professional plumber. Forcing the snake could damage your pipes or worsen the blockage.

When to Call the Pros at Green House Plumbing and Heating

It’s important to know your limits and recognize when professional help is necessary. Here are a few situations where it’s best to call Green House Plumbing and Heating:

  • Severe Backup: If you have sewage backing up into your Bellevue home, it’s a health hazard that requires immediate professional attention. Our team will respond quickly to diagnose and resolve the problem safely.
  • Recurring Clogs: If your main sewer line clogs frequently, it could indicate a more serious underlying issue, such as a damaged pipe or tree root intrusion. We’ll perform a thorough inspection to identify the cause and recommend the best course of action.
  • DIY Failure: If you’ve tried DIY methods without success, don’t delay in calling a plumber. Further attempts could damage your pipes or worsen the blockage, leading to more expensive repairs down the road.
  • Uncertainty: If you’re unsure of how to proceed or uncomfortable tackling the problem yourself, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek professional help.

The Green House Plumbing and Heating Advantage

Our experienced technicians have the expertise and specialized tools to diagnose and repair your main sewer line clog efficiently and effectively. We use advanced techniques like hydro jetting to blast away stubborn blockages and camera inspections to pinpoint the exact location and cause of the problem. We understand the unique challenges of Bellevue’s diverse plumbing systems, from older clay pipes in historic neighborhoods like West Bellevue to modern PVC pipes in newer communities like Eastgate.

Prevention is the Best Solution

The best way to avoid the hassle and expense of a main sewer line clog is to be proactive:

  • Regular Maintenance: Schedule periodic sewer line cleanings with Green House Plumbing and Heating to prevent buildup and keep your pipes flowing freely.
  • Watch What Goes Down the Drain: Avoid flushing anything besides toilet paper and human waste. Be mindful of what you put down your kitchen sink as well, especially fats, oils, and grease (FOG), which can solidify and cause major clogs.
  • Be Mindful of Tree Roots: If your Bellevue home has mature trees, consider having your sewer line inspected regularly for signs of root intrusion. Early detection allows for less invasive and more affordable repairs.


Clogged drains are a part of life in any home, but you don’t have to let them disrupt your Bellevue lifestyle. Remember, Green House Plumbing and Heating is here to keep your drains flowing smoothly, ensuring your home’s plumbing is efficient, safe, and hassle-free.

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