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Why Is Dirt Coming Up from My Drain?

When you see dirt coming from a drain in your home, it’s a sign of a serious plumbing issue. Your plumbing should be maintained under normal circumstances. There’s no problem worth ignoring, no matter how seemingly minor. But dirt backing up a drain is another matter. Here are some reasons why this may happen and what to do about it.

Wastewater Backup

Untreated wastewater will appear black, gray, or brown. It is unsanitary and potentially dangerous. All plumbing appliances drain into the sewer line, but a drain problem can cause water to back up. The situation is particularly troublesome in a bathroom, due to the regular disposal of waste and how a dirt-filled drain can cause so much disruption in your day. 

Sewage Backup

Black debris appearing at the sink drain opening, especially if it’s at the lowest part of the drainage system, is more likely to be sewage. It poses a significantly high health risk. The issue may arise due to a problem in the municipal sewer line. If you have a septic system in Phoenix, AZ, the tank may be full or a line may be blocked. In any case, you’ll need a professional to perform plumbing repair.

A Buildup of Biological Matter

Hair, soap, and oils contain biological compounds that can stick to the interior of drainage pipes. A filmy layer forms, creating an environment conducive for bacteria to grow and create a sticky black film. The colony will continue to grow until the film emerges from the drain. Liquid drain cleaners can loosen it but can be quite harsh on your plumbing.

Obstructed Vent Pipe

You may also see dirt coming from a drain if the vent system serving your sink drainage line is blocked. Restricted ventilation can cause wastewater to back up. Resolving the situation requires accessing the vent opening from the roof and often injecting water at high pressures. You’re best off calling a trained plumber to handle this job.

How Do I Know the Drain Is Clogged?

If dirt coming from the drain is due to a clog, there may be other signs of trouble. Even before the dirty mess starts, drains may start to flow more slowly. A gurgling toilet can indicate there’s a clog creating negative air pressure that pushes air backward through a drainpipe. When you flush the toilet, water may appear in the tub or shower, while a sewage smell from a drain is a telltale sign of a sewage backup and that potentially toxic gasses are present.

What Do I Do About Dirt Coming from My Drain?

You can try plunging the drain, which can work if the blockage is close to the surface. Boiling water can sometimes alleviate the problem, while a plumbing snake can reach deeper to break up clogs or remove foreign objects. There are also natural remedies like baking soda and vinegar, but while they’re less harsh than chemical cleaners, they can kill beneficial bacteria and don’t work on severe clogs.

An experienced plumber can use video cameras to inspect your plumbing. It lets them see the source of the problem firsthand and determine how to fix it. They can also employ more advanced methods such as hydro jetting to eliminate buildup and clogs. In the case of old and/or deteriorated drain lines or those infiltrated by tree roots, a technician may suggest replacing the pipe.

Call Hays If Dirt Is Coming from Your Drain

Our residential and commercial plumbers specialize in drain and pipe repair in the Phoenix area. We can quickly restore your safety and the function of your home or business. No matter where the problem is, we use video inspection and sewer jetting to find and clear blockages fast. To schedule drain cleaning and other plumbing services, call 602-704-5229 today.

About the Author

Chris Hays

Founder of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing

Chris and Stacia Hays, are the founders of Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing; a family operated HVAC company in Phoenix founded in 2001 that services both commercial and residential customers. Chris leads a team of certified technicians who have over 45 years of combined experience and has earned and A+ rating with the BBB and a strong five star rating online. Hays Cooling, Heating & Plumbing focuses on providing support to their customers every step of the way, with exceptional service and competitive prices. If you are looking for top-notch air conditioning and heating service, contact Hays today.