Most homeowners have experienced a temporary blockage or sluggish drains in their plumbing. Minor blockages often can be cleared with a plunger.
Cooking grease, hair, food particles, toilet paper and roots often cause sluggish drains or line blockages. If they happen near the drain opening or toilet bowl, a plunger may be effective in clearing them. However, if the problem is some distance into a drain line, it may require a plumber to locate and resolve.
If you have a blocked or stubborn drain, the first thing you want to do is reduce or eliminate the water you put in the lines to minimize the amount of damage you may do. Obviously, if you keep flushing a slow-moving toilet it will overflow the bowl and damage property.
Washing machines can create one of the biggest problems when your drains are running slowly. Washers use 15 - 20 gallons per load. This water could back up into toilets or showers, possibly causing overflow damage. It is relatively easy to find out if the blockage is in the house drains or in the sewer lines.
Check Your Cleanout
Many homes have two cleanouts (click link for illustration). One is near the foundation of the house and the second is at or near the property line.
First, check the cleanout next to the house to see if it has water in it. If it contains no water, then you know the blockage is somewhere in the house plumbing. If there is water visible in the clean out, the blockage is most likely in the line from the house to the main sewer line.
If there is a cleanout near your property line and you see water in it, the problem is likely in the City sewer line. Under these circumstances you should discontinue using your facilities and contact the Wastewater Department at 813-247-3451. This number is manned 24/7 and technicians will be dispatched to investigate the problem.
If there is no cleanout at the property line and water is visible in a clean out on your property, you should contact the Wastewater Collection Division between normal business hours at 813-898-1420.
Please Note: Wastewater Collection Division personnel are not permitted to work on private property; therefore, the homeowner or a plumber must resolve any problems between the right-of-way and the house.