Clogs are a virtual certainty that doesn’t have to be a persistent reality in your home. Common causes can include pouring cooking grease down the train, hair buildup in the bathroom drains, and running eggshells through the garbage disposal. Flushing items that should not be flushed commonly causes clogs in toilets and plumbing, too.

The best way to deal with a clogging problem is to handle it as soon as possible and to try to prevent it from happening again. Following some basic tips for unclogging pipes can help to clear a clogged drain or toilet, but it helps to catch the problem early. Here are some common signs to look for that will tip you off to a clog in your home’s plumbing system.

Drain or Toilet is Backed-Up

The most obvious sign of clogged plumbing is when water backs up in the drain or toilet. Water should flow out as fast as it goes into a drain, but a partial or full clog will bring that drainage to a stop or at least slow it down enough that the water backs up. The toilet likewise should flush quickly and easily, but one of the many common causes of a clogged toilet might stop the flow and cause the toilet to overflow and create a real mess.

Water Drains Slowly

A partial clog can be just as bad as a complete clog. You still get some drainage, but it is so slow that the water can back up in the sink or rise higher in the toilet bowl. A partial clog might be due to substances clinging to the sides of the piping that make up the plumbing system. It’s also possible that something fairly solid was dropped or otherwise found its way into the drain or plumbing system. Some drain cleaners might clear it, but you also might need the help of a plumber to clear the problem.

Plumbing Makes Gurgling Sounds

You might hear gurgling sounds or other noises coming from deep within the plumbing after you flush your toilet or drain water in the sink. The gurgling sound suggests something is partly clogging the plumbing and making it harder for the water to flow past it. You also might hear air trying to get out of the way of the water as it drains.

Drains Emit Foul Odors

When a drain is clogged, nothing gets past it. Instead, waste accumulates and decays. That decaying matter can emit some very foul odors. It can be especially bad if plumbing is stopping waste from the toilet from flowing out to the septic system. Whenever you smell something foul coming from your drains, there is a definite problem inside the plumbing pipes. It might be isolated, such as from a sink drain that leads to the garbage disposal. It also might be a problem located deep within the system.

Pests Emerge from the Drain

A clogged drain will cause stagnant water that in turn can cause a film on the still water. That film is an ideal breeding ground for drain flies and other pests in your drain. Drain flies resemble fruit flies and can be very annoying. Cockroaches also commonly make a home inside clogged drains and might lay eggs. Whenever such pests make a home inside a drain, it is at least partly clogged.

You Repeatedly Use the Plunger

The more that you have to use the plunger to clear a drain, the worse that drain has a clog. You might be able to clear it by forcing some of the clogging material out with the help of a plunger, but that partial clog just becomes whole again after a couple of more uses. When you have to keep using the plunger, it is best to call a plumber to have the problem fixed instead of treating the symptom day after day.