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Tuesday, 19 March 2019 16:27

Preventing a Clogged Sewer Line

Preventing Sewer and Drain Line Problems
A backed-up sewer line can be a real disaster, resulting in extensive damage to your home and in many cases requiring expensive repairs to your plumbing system. It's important to know the warning signs of sewer and drain problems to prevent the small problems from becoming drain disasters.

Knowing the Warning Signs

A home's sewer and drain system is designed like a tree, with branches of drain pipes leading to  main trunk line that runs out of the house to the sewer main. If there is a clog in a secondary line it's going be isolated to that line. For example, if your bathroom sink is clogged and the toilet flushes normally, it's isolated to the sink drain. However, it the problem is with the main line, the toilet may percolate and waste water may come up from the shower or tub drain or floor drain in the basement.

Slow to empty drains and gurgling noises from toilets are often the first warning signs that your sewer system is obstructed. It's important to have a sewer line inspection as soon as possible to identify and correct the problem.

Preventative Sewer Line Maintenance

Most home owner's insurance policies do not cover sewer line problems and repairs and in most cities, homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sewer line that runs form the house to the sewer main by the street.

You can reduce the potential for sewer and drain clogs by keeping materials like cotton swabs, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, baby wipes and other waste products out of toilets. This would include products marketed as "flushable". Pouring paint, grease and oil and other chemicals down the drain is not only harmful to the environment, it can cause problems inside the pipes.

Among the most common cause of sewer line backups and damage is tree root intrusion. A sewer and drain line inspection is cheap insurance and can find potential problems with tree root intrusion, broken or disconnected pipes, debris build-up and more. If problems are found your plumber has many tools to help clear or repair the line, including rodding, water-jetting, and trench-less sewer line repair. A follow-up video camera inspection will help to ensure that the repair was successful.

Have questions about your sewer and drain lines? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. From video camera inspections to sewer and drain line cleaning and repair, we can help.
The type of sewer pipe material your home has will depend on its age. Older homes often have clay or cast iron pipes, while newer homes are most likely to use plastic. However, as older sewer lines are replaced, it's becoming more common to find plastic lines in oder homes.

Clay Sewer Pipes

Clay is one of the oldest pipe materials still in use today. It's main advantage is that it's inert and resistant to chemical degradation. The downside of clay sewer pipe is its porous surface, which makes it a magnet for tree roots. It is also more brittle than some other pipe materials.

Cast Iron Sewer Pipes

As with clay pipe, cast-iron sewer pipe is more commonly found in older homes, although it is still commonly used today. The main advantage of cast iron is it's long lifespan and strength. A 4" diameter sewer pipe can withstand almost 5,000 pounds of pressure per linear foot. By comparison, a plastic sewer pipe can be damaged by a person standing on it! Cast iron's main disadvantage is weight.

Plastic Sewer Pipes - PVC and ABS

Plastic sewer pipe is made from either ABS and PVC. Its smooth surface provide excellent carrying capacity of waste and makes it resistant to tree root intrusion. It must be installed carefully however, as plastic is not as strong as other materials and can bend or collapse if not sufficiently supported with sand or gravel.

Orangeburg Sewer Pipes

Orangeburg is a pipe material you're unlikely to encounter these days, and for good reason. Made from wood fiber held together with adhesive and impregnated with liquefied coal tar, Orangeburg pipe was lightweight and easy to work with, but was also weak and prone to failure, which has resulted in many sewer lines being replaced over the years.

Have question about your sewer line? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.
If you notice a smelly sewer odor in your home, there are several possible causes. Here are some things to check:
  1. Check the floor drain trap. Without water to block the sewer gas from escaping, odors will enter the room. Pour water down the drain to refill the trap.
  2. Check the clean-out plug inside the floor drain. Remove the grate that covers the drain and make sure there's a plug inside the drain bowl. If the plug is missing, sewer gas will be able to bypass the water trap. A replacement plug can be bought at most hardware stores.
  3. Check the toilets. When toilets are unused for a long period of time the water in the trap can evaporate. Simply flushing the toilet will refill the trap.
  4. Worn toilet wax ring. The wax ring seals the toilet flange to the toilet base. If the wax ring leaks, sewer gas will escape from under the toilet. If the ring is broken, the toilet will need to be removed and and the wax ring replaced. If the toilet is loose on the base, shims can be used to ensure that a rocking toilet doesn't break the new wax ring.
Other possible causes of sewer odors include a broken or cracked sewer line or, less often, a loose connection joint in an interior wall. If you've checked the other possibilities above, it may be time to contact your plumber to hunt down the cause.

Have sewer and drain line questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.


Most homeowners don't think about their sewer and drain lines until there is a clog or backup that require a professional to clear. However, there are steps you can take to your drain lines working smoothly without snaking the line or using harsh chemical drain cleaners. Natural drain cleaners like Bio-Clean and BioOne offer a safe, effective way to remove buildup in drain lines that can eventually lead to an obstruction. Both use naturally occurring cultures that can be added directly into drain and septic systems. Bacteria get to work immediately on degradation of fat, oil, grease and organic waste build-up through natural biological digestion. Both have earned the EPA's Safer Choice Program certification. Only products that are made of the safest possible ingredients are eligible for the program.

Natural Sewer Line Treatment Products

One of the most common reasons sewer lines fail is tree root intrusion. When a small crack forms in the sewer line tree roots are drawn to the moisture and nutrients inside the pipe. Eventually, tree roots will obstruct the sewer line. One of the most effective biological sewer line cleaners is RootX. RootX kills roots in residential sewer lines, storm pipes and septic systems. A root intrusion left untreated can restrict flow, cause complete blockage and can eventually destroy a sewer or septic system, costing you thousands of dollars to repair or replace.

Need help clearing your sewer or drain lines? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning and Electric. We can help clear the toughest clogs.


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