Any type of stoppage in your home’s plumbing system is unpleasant to say the least. Clogged drains can lead to overflowing sinks and toilets, burst pipes, putrid odors and unsanitary messes. Yuck. But as bad as those kinds of clogs are, even worse are sewer line blockages.
Sewer blockages are “big time” problems because the sewer line is so vital to the overall functioning of your home’s plumbing system. Here’s why: All of the pipes connected to the sinks, washing machine, bathtubs, showers and toilets in your home converge into one main “trunk” or “sewer line” on your premises. When wastewater is flushed or drained, it travels out and away from your house, via the underground sewer line on your property, to a large municipal sewer line and eventually to your city’s water reclamation facility. That’s when there are no blockages and everything is running smoothly.
When wastewater flowing out from your house encounters a clog somewhere in the sewer line, it cannot go any further. Instead, the raw sewage backs-up into your home, usually entering through low points like basements, floor drains, toilets and septic tanks. This can lead to damage in your home and to your possessions. It is not usually a quick-fix, either. In this situation not just one sink or toilet is stopped-up, but every drain in your home is affected.
Signs of Sewer Line Backups
You may wonder if you have an actual sewer line back-up, or just a single, regular clog. There are some big clues you should be aware of. If only your sink, tub or toilet is a problem, it’s likely to just be a clog in that drain. On the other hand, if multiple plumbing fixtures in your home are clogged or draining water slowly, then there’s a high possibility that you have a main sewer line clog.
Other possible signs of sewer back-up are:
- Gurgling sounds come from drains, especially after you’ve used an appliance that uses water, such as the dishwasher or washing machine.
- Sinks won’t drain and toilets won’t flush, even after plunging.
- Water is coming out of the basement floor drain.
- Pervasive, foul odors emanate from your drains—which is the smell of raw sewage.
- Water backs-up in odd places when you use various plumbing fixtures. This is because your main drain line is clogged, so water has nowhere to go but back to your home, and it goes into the lowest point. If you flush the toilet, the water may start gurgling up your shower or bathtub drains. If you run your bathroom sink, the water may rise in the toilet next to it. When you use your washing machine, the toilet may overflow or water might back-up into the tub or shower.
Know When It’s Time To Call A Professional
If you think you may have a problem with your sewer line, the first thing you need to do is shut off the main water supply to your home. It is critical that you don’t use any more water as it could accumulate in the basement.
The other very important step you need to take is to schedule a sewer line inspection with a plumbing professional, to find out what is causing the problem. If you live in the Atlanta area, we invite you to call Assured Comfort.
When we come out to your home, we’ll first assess the situation. We’ll determine what’s causing the sewer backup and if it’s a problem that falls on your property line or the city’s. If it falls on the city’s side, we’ll advise you to reach out to the city sewer department to have it fixed. If the problem is within the homeowner’s property boundary lines, most municipalities consider the repair to be the homeowner’s responsibility. We’ll give you our recommendations for repairing the back-up, including an upfront estimate for your approval before proceeding with any work.
Assured Comfort uses sophisticated diagnostic technology to identify the problem, and clear your drains rapidly and efficiently. This includes:
Video inspection cameras are used to quickly determine the condition of the sewer line and the location of especially troublesome clogs.
High-pressure “hydrojetting” services are used as a much more efficient alternative to standard augering and drain snaking procedures. With hydrojetting, clogged drains can be cleaned-out using highly-pressurized water jets to thoroughly clean and scour the lines free of grease buildup, tree roots or other obstructions.
Our Underground Plumbing Technology
RIDGID’s SeeSnake Drain and Sewer Video Inspection System navigates drains smoothly and quickly. The attached camera transmits high-quality footage to an aboveground monitor viewed by your plumber. There are different sizes of tools to best fit specific drains. This is the first step in identifying exactly what is causing the drainage issues, whether it’s tree roots or other types of blockages.
This technology is complemented in the next step of the process: locating the problem. With RIDGID’s locators, the SeeSnake camera’s location can be precisely cited. Your plumber will be able to utilize mapping technologies to determine the depth of the sewer with the drainage problems. The information can even be recorded on film for reference to give your plumber all the information he needs to combat each specific drain.
While there’s never a good time to experience drainage issues in your home, underground plumbing and drain cleaning can be performed before problems ever arise. If you suspect that clogged main drains might be at play in your home, look for signs such as toilets not flushing correctly and drains feeding up through other sinks and showers.
Assured Comfort is proud to now offer underground plumbing and drain cleaning using RIDGID’s SeeSnake Drain and Sewer Video Inspection System to make this process easier and more efficient.
What Causes a Sewer Back-Up?
When sewers back-up, it’s usually due to one of four causes:
When you put “non-biodegradables” down a drain, not only can it affect the pipes inside your house, it can also causes blockages further down the system, in your underground sewer line. Some of the worst offenders are flushing baby wipes, diapers and feminine hygiene products down toilets, and pouring grease or oil down kitchen sinks. Oils are problematic because they combine with other food debris and harden in the pipes, creating an immovable clog. So are pastas, rice and bread crumbs, as these foods can expand with water and stick to the inside of pipes. Clogs can also occur outdoors; heavy rains can blow leaves, dirt and debris into outside drains, causing stoppages there.
Tree and shrub roots seeking moisture can penetrate into cracked or collapsed sewer lines. The roots may start out small. But as the tree grows, the root grows, and the pipe eventually becomes blocked. Tree roots can also wrap around sewer lines and crush them.
Broken or Collapsed Sewer Lines
If a sewer line ruptures or collapses, the sewage won’t be able to properly drain through the system, which will cause back-ups. Typical causes of broken pipes include old age and poor installation of the pipes, and excessive traffic on the ground above. The type of plumbing that is most susceptible to breakage are clay (which is very porous) and cast iron pipes, which is what’s typically found in older homes. (However the PVC or plastic piping used in newer homes is much more durable.)
If the septic tank is clogged or full, this could lead to sewer back-up.