Like most household systems, your drainage and plumbing system will inevitably develop problems at some point. But some of the most common drainage issues aren't always apparent right away. Unfortunately, when drain problems aren't readily noticeable, they can easily grow severe before you even realize they're there.

Luckily, if you're aware of the not-so-obvious signs that your drains may be developing problems, you can nip a minor issue in the bud before it spirals out of control. What signs should you know about? Read on to find out.

1. Unpleasant Odors

When sewer-like odors start wafting into the house, there's one of two problems: either a drain trap has dried up, or the sewer vent line has cracked. One of these is super simple to fix, while the other is a bit more involved and requires the help of a plumbing professional.

To figure out what's causing the stench, here's what you need to do:

●        If you have any drains that see infrequent use, sniff them. If you notice a strong sewer-like odor wafting up through any of those drain openings, a dry p-trap is probably the culprit.

●        To find out if that's the problem, turn on the faucet and let the water run into the drain. If the p-trap is dry, the water will refill it, preventing sewer gases from escaping the pipe.

●        Sniff the drain again later, and if the sewer stench is gone, you've probably fixed the problem.

●        If you can still smell sewer odors after running water into your drains, a damaged vent line is probably to blame. Since these lines typically run through a home's walls, you'll need to hire a pro to find the source of the stench and fix it.

2. Slow Drainage

Slow water flow through any drain is almost always indicative of a clog somewhere in the pipe. Sometimes, the blockage exists right near the drain opening and can be dislodged with a plunger, but if plunging does nothing, that typically indicates a more severe blockage further down the line. A drain cleaning pro can easily solve this issue with a technique called drain snaking or, for really tough clogs, water jetting may be more appropriate.

3. Weak Water Flow

When there's weak water flow at a single faucet, that usually indicates a problem with the faucet's aerator. But when there's poor water pressure and weak flow at multiple taps throughout the house, that's a major red flag that a bigger problem needs your attention.

Poor water pressure in multiple locations may indicate an issue with the water main. If it's only happening with the warm water supply, a water heater problem is a likely culprit. In a worst-case scenario, systemic weak water flow can indicate an active leak in the main water supply line, which must be addressed promptly.

Anytime you notice weak flow at multiple points throughout your house, contact a drain cleaning specialist right away. A pro can diagnose the issue with a drain camera, and if it's caused by backed-up drains, water jetting can solve the problem in no time. If the drain camera reveals a supply line leak, you'll need to get an emergency plumber to repair the affected pipe.

4. Unusually High Water Bills

Many homeowners learn of a plumbing or drainage system leak when their water bills unexpectedly spike. If you notice a sudden increase in your water expenses and haven't been using more water than usual, the problem may be due to a simple running toilet. However, if the spike is substantial, a pipe leak is probably the culprit.

Either way, this is an issue you should definitely have checked out by a qualified professional. A drain cleaning specialist or a plumber can assess your pipes with a drain camera inspection to determine if any leaks are present and advise you on what you need to do to control your water bill.

5. Super Green Patches of Grass in the Yard

One of the most common indications of a mainline sewer problem is an ultra-fertilized area of grass in the yard. If there's human waste leaking out of the line, it'll provide the surrounding soil with an additional source of nutrients, which will result in very healthy-looking turf, but a not-so-healthy plumbing system. Leaky sewer drains can also cause soggy patches in a yard since the leaking fluid will gradually cause areas of the soil to compact and sink.

Homeowners often notice a super-green patch between their home and the street since city sewer lines typically follow that path. If you ever notice something like this, it may result from a tree root intrusion in the line, another type of blockage, or age-related corrosion.

Regardless of what might be causing the green patch, it's something you need to get checked out by a pro. A camera drain inspection can reveal the source of the problem, and a sewer cleaning specialist can recommend the most appropriate course of action based on the inspection's findings.

6. Dirty Water

When the water coming out of your faucets isn't clear, that may indicate a serious problem within your plumbing system. In some cases, cloudy or slightly yellowish water is simply the result of mineral buildup, which is fairly common in households that use well water. Often, a simple water treatment, filter replacement, or water softener additive can fix the color issue. 

When the water is brown, full of sediment, or tinged slightly red, on the other hand, those colors frequently indicate the presence of rust. If the change occurs suddenly, it may be due to fire hydrant flushing in the local area, but if it happens gradually, it may mean the pipes are corroding. Green-ish water may also indicate corrosion if your plumbing system has copper pipes.

Suppose you suspect your plumbing system may be suffering from any degree of corrosion (especially if you own an older home). In that case, scheduling a drain camera inspection with a drain cleaning specialist is in your best interest. The assessment will reveal what's going on with the interior of your pipes. If there isn't corrosion, your dirty water may simply be the result of sediment buildup inside your drains, which water jetting can easily eliminate. 

7. Your Fixtures Aren't Functioning Like Normal

If your drains and fixtures are making strange noises or behaving abnormally, this is another key indicator that something needs to be addressed. Because the main sewer drains usually become clogged somewhere between the street and the home, and the backups start at the clog and move up, the lowest drains are usually the first to experience issues.

Start with your toilet, and if you notice the water isn't flushing correctly or gurgling occurs when water is running down the washing machine drain, sink, or tub, these are telltale signs. You can also run the sink next to the toilet, and if you hear noises or see a backup, reach out to a pro for an assessment.

8. Water Stains

Water stains are not only unsightly but a sign that there is a bigger problem. If they're showing up in your basement or on your foundation walls, this means you have a poor drainage problem.

To make matters worse, if the water sits for too long, it can directly affect the structural integrity of your foundation. If you believe the septic system is affected or sewage is involved, keep yourself protected before entering the space, and call in a professional immediately.

Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning for Your Twin Cities Home

Worried your house might be on the verge of plumbing backup? Then don't hesitate to get in touch with our team at Drain Blaster Bill's Sewer & Drain Cleaning to schedule service! We specialize in water jetting service, drain camera inspections, drain snaking, and maintenance drain cleaning and will ensure your pipes are free of debris that can cause serious plumbing problems.

To get started, call us today at 763-913-8719 or contact us online with any questions, and we'll get back to you right away.