What Causes My Main Sewer Line To Clog?

By |Published On: October 14th, 2021|Categories: Residential Plumbing, Sewer Systems|

Are you asking yourself, “what causes my main sewer line to clog?” Follow along! This article tells you everything you need to know about sewer line clogs. Let’s start with what is the main sewer line?

What Is The Main Sewer Line?

The main sewer line is the pipe that runs underneath your home, connecting all of your drain lines, carrying waste to the city connection. The sewer line is split into parts: the upper and lower laterals.

Upper Sewer Lateral -These pipes typically run under your yard and foundation. The upper lateral begins below your foundation and ends at a cleanout near your sidewalk or property line.

Lower Sewer Lateral – The lower lateral starts where the upper ends and connects to the city-owned sewer line. These lines run under the public road.

Don’t confuse the main sewer line with the city-owned sewer line. The main sewer line (containing the upper and lower lateral sections) runs under your property and is your responsibility to repair. While the sewer line that runs under the public road is the city’s responsibility to repair.

Check out more about – Signs of a collapsed sewer line.

collapsed sewer line

What Causes My Main Sewer Line To Clog?

Below are the main reasons sewer lines clog.

  • Tree Roots – Tree roots can infiltrate your sewer line through joints or cracks in the pipe.

  • Cast Iron Pipes – Homes built before the 70s are usually made with cast iron pipes. Although cast iron is a strong material, it still rusts and corrodes over time.

  • Terracotta Pipes – Terracotta pipes are made out of clay-based ceramic. Contractors used terracotta pipes because the material was widely available. However, builders failed to realize that the clay is very susceptible to roots and leaks.

  • Soil Failure – If your soil shifts, it can induce pressure on your sewer line, causing the pipe to crack, leak, and collapse. Soil can shift due to rain, flooding, drought, freezing temperatures, and more.
  • Grease – Do not pour cooking oil, fats, or grease down your drains. The liquid fat hardens when it dries, sticking to your pipes.
  • Flushable Wipes – Do not flush “flushable” wipes down your toilet. Flushable only means that your toilet can flush the wipes. Toilet paper is made to disintegrate inside your sewer line, while baby wipes will remain intact, creating a clog.

    Let’s take a look this post – Where is the main sewer line in your house.

Flush Toilet close up shot for background

Other Items You Should Not Flush

Do not flush anything on this list!

  • Facial tissues

  • Baby wipes

  • Disinfectant wipes

  • Moist wipes
  • Toilet bowl scrub pads

  • Swiffer’s

  • Napkins

  • Paper towels

  • Dental floss

  • Feminine products

  • Food

  • Q-tips

  • Medicine or pills

  • Hair

  • Toilet paper cardboard rolls
  • Diapers

What Should I Flush Down My Sewer Line?

You should only flush a moderate amount of toilet paper (because even too much can clog a drain) and human waste. Do not flush anything else down your sewer lines. The cost to repair a clog could reach thousands of dollars.

Close-up Of A Person's Hand Using Toilet Paper

How To Clean A Clogged Sewer Line

If the only issue you have is a clogged sewer line, plumbers will recommend a sewer cleaning solution, such as hydro-jetting. Hydro-jetting uses a self-propelled nozzle that shoots up to 4,000 PSI of water, clearing away any debris. The pipes are accessed using a sewer line cleanout on your property. Whether you have tree roots or sludge clogging your sewer line, hydro-jetting uses specific nozzles for different obstructions.

How To Fix A Damaged Sewer Line

If your sewer line clog is fixed but the problem persists, you might need sewer repair. Luckily for you, we have the best solutions for fixing a damaged sewer line.

Pipe Lining (Trenchless)

Pipe lining is a trenchless sewer repair method that can safely replace your sewer line without digging up floors. A CCTV sewer camera inspection will determine if your pipes qualify for trenchless repair methods.

The process begins when an epoxy-impregnated liner is inserted into the old pipe and inflated, creating a new pipe inside the old one. Pipe lining can be considered replacement or repair depending on whether the whole pipe length will be lined or just a section. If only a section of pipe (a spot repair) is lined, it is considered a repair. If you line the entire sewer line, it is like getting a brand new pipe installed (aka replacement).

A unique, epoxy-impregnated liner is inserted into the old pipe, inflates, and creates a new pipe structure directly inside the old one.
Pipe bursting is where a new HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipe is attached to a winch with a cone-shaped bursting head and pulled through the damaged line. The damaged pipe breaks apart as the new one takes its place.

Pipe Bursting (Trenchless)

Pipe bursting is where a new HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipe is attached to a winch with a cone-shaped bursting head and pulled through the damaged line. The damaged pipe breaks apart as the new one takes its place, giving you a durable, brand-new sewer line.

Conventional Trenching

If a sewer pipe is highly damaged, you will have to replace the pipe using traditional trenching methods. A sewer line must be sloped toward the city connection, allowing gravity to move sewage down the line. If contractors installed the pipe using the wrong slope, the waste begins to flow toward your home. These types of pipes are considered back-pitched, and trenchless technology does not work on back-pitched pipes.

Traditional methods involve digging up your yard and trenching through your home. The procedures are invasive, but trenching is the only solution for collapsed, disintegrated, or back-pitched pipes.

Who Can Repair A Sewer Line Clog?

It’s time that New Flow Plumbing comes in to save the day. We’ll get you started with a CCTV sewer camera inspection to determine where your problems come from. Then, we give you a free repair estimate, followed by available repair options. Whatever the issue, New Flow Plumbing will have your plumbing running perfectly again.

About the Author: New Flow Plumbing Inc.

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