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Sewer Main FAQ

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The sewer main is a crucial part of a home’s plumbing system. Unfortunately, since it is not visible, the sewer main is also something most people don’t know much about. Many homeowners do not think about their home’s sewer pipes until there is a problem; usually a sewer drain clog.

Many questions usually come up when problems with the sewer main occur. The following are some commonly asked questions regarding a home’s sewer main.

How is a sewer main clog fixed?

A sewer main stoppage is cleared with a sewer drain snake. The drain snake is used to locate and break up the clog allowing water and waste to drain out into the city sewer system. Usually the snake is run through a clean-out. In cases where there is no clean-out the process of clearing a sewer stoppage is more difficult and will usually require a professional plumber.

How do I know if I have a clean-out?

The only way to know if you have a clean-out is to look for it. Houses are built differently so sewer clean-outs can be located in different places. Unless you are looking for it a sewer clean-out is usually quite inconspicuous. Also, a clean-out that is located outside can become hidden by landscaping over time. When trying to find the sewer clean-outs the first place to look is near the bathroom. Once you know where to look it is not too difficult to find the sewer clean-outs if you have them.

What if I don’t have a clean-out?

A clean-out is a very important thing to have particularly if you have sewer drain clogs often. If you do not have one you may consider having one put it. Not only will it be cheaper to have your main line snaked, but it can also serve as a release allowing water to leak outside instead of flooding the inside of the house when the main line is backed up.

What if the main line can not be cleared?

If you have tried using a sewer drain snake yourself without success you may want to call a professional plumber. If a plumber is telling you they tried to snake out the main line and it can not be cleared it is a good idea to call another plumber for a second opinion. Don’t rush into having the main line replaced. The price to replace the line can be so much that it is well worth a second opinion before you spend the money.

When is it time to replace your main line?

This is really a matter of opinion. If your main line backs up more than once a year then it could be worth have the problem area dug up and repaired or the line replaced. Many times it is just a matter of having the sewer line snaked once every year or two. This is particularly true if the roots from large trees grow into the sewer line. The difference in price of snaking vs digging up the line and either repairing or replacing it is significant.

Can I prevent sewer main clogs?

There are multiple causes for sewer main clogs. Some are not preventable such as tree roots and collapsing pipes. Other things can be monitored to help prevent frequent clogs. One of the biggest things you can do is to be careful about what goes down the drain. Solid objects that are flushed down the toilet can become lodged and help cause a sewer stoppage. Also, excessive food and oils washed down the kitchen drain can contribute to sewer main clogs.

Is the homeowner always responsible for clearing sewer main clogs?

The location and cause of the stoppage will usually determine who is responsible for the repair. Check with your city first before having any work done to your sewer main. In some cases the city or town will remedy the situation if the cause is on their end.

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