When your home’s sewer line is working like normal, it’s more than easy to just forget about it. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind. A clogged sewer line, however, spells major trouble for your home. This problem not only prevents you from using your kitchen sink, showers, and toilets, but can result in a disastrous—and expensive—sewer line backup. Here’s what you should know about the common causes of sewer line issues and why you should call a plumbing professional for drain cleaning services if you suspect your home has a sewer line clog.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF SEWER LINE CLOGS?
Overall, clogs represent more than half of all drain failure issues, and most clogs are caused by the homeowner. Clogs form steadily over time as grease, oil, and other food waste becomes trapped deep in the sewer line and begins to accumulate. This messy situation is only made worse by homeowners who put trash—including “flushable” wipes—down the toilet. Eventually, this will clog the line partially, and then fully. When that happens, the wastewater from your home has nowhere to go but up.
In some cases, sewer line clogs are caused by tree roots or a sunken length of pipe. In the former scenario, the thirsty roots—detecting a small leak or fissure in the buried line—grow toward it. Eventually, with enough time, these roots will envelope and break into the line, forming a hardy blockage that prevents wastewater from exiting the system into the municipal sewer. Finally, a sunken pipe is a part of the sewer line that is no longer level with the rest of it. The entirety of the line is slightly angled so that the part connected to the home is higher than the line connected to the sewer. This allows gravity to carry water and waste more efficiently. A sunken line disrupts this gravity-based system and allows wastewater and material to get stuck.
These drain failure issues apply to both sewer lines attached to municipal sewer systems and to personal septic systems. Most Americans have a system attached to a municipal sewer, so sending items down the drain that can cause a clog may affect more than just your home.
DANGERS OF A DAMAGED SEWER SYSTEM
A damaged or clogged sewer line can be a costly repair. First, if you have had any sewer backup into your home, you will need extensive water damage repair and, potentially, mold remediation. Then, you’ll need to have the line itself cleared of the clog and repaired. In total, this can cost you thousands of dollars.
If you suspect that you may have a clog forming in your sewer line, now is the time to act. Call a local plumbing professional in your area and have them out for a sewer camera inspection. Using an endoscopic snake tool with a tiny camera attached to the end, the plumber will be able to feed the line deep into the drain and see into the sewer line. As the feed travels through the sewer line, they’ll be able to spot any clogs that are forming, or any leaks in the line. This preventative service is only a small fraction of the cost of a sewer backup, so, for most homeowners, it’s well-worth the peace of mind.
In the event you do have a partial or full sewer line clog, your plumber will provide you with several options for clearing the clog. This may include using a hydrojet to blast out the debris from the line. Or, a plumber may elect to use a specialized snake tool that can cut through the blockage and clear it out.
If you do have a cracked or damaged sewer line, talk to your plumber about trenchless repairs. Most plumbers have equipment today that allows them to replace the line without having to dig the entire thing up. One of the most common methods for doing this involves feeding the new line (with a slightly smaller diameter) into the older one.
WHAT WASTE CAN LEAD TO A CLOG?
What kind of debris causes a clog? Here are the most common culprits that build up in your line and slow or stop your water drainage:
- Coffee grounds
- Grease, fat, and oil
These items mix with water to create a slurry or sludge that sticks to the walls of your drain lines. Over time, this can create a complete clog that causes your sink to overflow. There are many other materials—both organic and non-organic—that can accelerate the growth of a clog. This includes orange rinds, hair, flushable wipes, paper towels, hygiene products, and more. The central lesson here is this: if you want to prevent sewer line issues, avoid flushing or putting any of these items down the drain. Put them in the trash instead. When it comes to cooking oil and grease, pour it in a disposable glass jar to cool and solidify. Then, you can throw it away.
Don’t let a minor clog create a major headache. Contact a local professional for drain cleaning services and help with your sewer line. To learn more about sewer line issues and how they can be prevented, check out this new infographic .