7 Tips for Clearing Your Sewer Line

Sewer line exposed on a tile floor

While your sewer line is unseen, it’s a crucial part of your home’s infrastructure—and like any other part of your home, it requires regular maintenance and repair to keep it working properly. From ingrown roots to sewer buildup over time, debris and blockages are inevitable in your sewer line. To prevent sewer backups into your home, you need to conduct regular cleanings of your sewer line and maintain a clear pipeline from your home to your municipal sewer.

Looking for guidance on how to unclog sewer line, plus other tips to care for your sewer line and lower repair and replacement costs? Here are seven important things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t Wait for a Clog in Your Sewer Line to Develop

Many homeowners ignore their sewer line altogether until there’s a problem. But when you wait for problems to develop, you miss out on the chance to provide your line with preventative care by conducting routine cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to have your sewer line cleaned at least every two years—or every year if your sewer line frequently develops clogs. With this proactive treatment, you can stop major clogs from building up and prevent sewer backups into your home.

2. Locate Your Sewer Line Cleanout in Your Home

When you want to clean out your sewer line, you’ll need to access that line through the cleanout in your home—often in your basement, a bathroom, or an undeveloped part of your home.

Typically, the cleanout is a pipe sticking out of the ground, covered with a cap that has four square knobs on it. These knobs are what a sewer professionals use to remove the cap and access the sewer line for inspection and cleaning. Whether you’re inspecting the line yourself or calling in a technician, you’ll need to know where this is located.

3. Know the Difference Between a Sewer Line Clog and a Plumbing Clog

If you have water backing up in your home, it’s important to know where the water is coming from. Sewer clogs will typically come out of a sewer drain located in the floor, or through the lowest exit point in your plumbing system, which is often a toilet.

Plumbing clogs can sometimes look the same. But if you notice water overflowing from a sink or other exit point higher than your sewer drain or a toilet, it’s probably an issue in your home’s plumbing, rather than the sewer line. By knowing the difference when you call around for help, you can find the right professional who can come prepared to solve your exact problem.

4. Don’t Attempt a Sewer Line Cleaning Without the Proper Tools

Sewer line cleaning is a straightforward process when you have the right tools—especially when it comes to the sewer line snake that breaks through clogs and removes materials causing blockages. If you try to clean out your sewer line with other tools, though, such as a standard plumber’s snake, you’re unlikely to be successful.

Invest in the right tools for the job—or hire a professional that can bring them in.

5. Perform a Sewer Line Repair Quickly to Minimize Your Costs

When new household repair costs arise, it’s tempting to put off maintenance expenses until they become more glaring. This is especially true with issues you can’t see, like partial blockages and related damage in your sewer line.

Homeowners be warned: Ignoring a sewer line issue only makes it worse. Clogs can grow into line damage, and line damage can become so severe that a full line replacement is required. The faster you act, the less damage you’ll have to deal with—which will save you in the long run.

6. Don’t Commit to a Sewer Line Replacement Without a Professional Inspection

When you’re having sewer trouble or are suffering from a clog in the sewer line, the difference between a sewer line repair and replacement can be impossible to determine without a professional inspection.

If you’re dealing with alleged sewer professionals who want to sell you on a replacement without first inspecting the line and explaining the problem requiring a replacement, it’s time to find a different business to work with. Given the cost of replacement and the options available when repairing a sewer line, a full line replacement should be a last resort.

7. Don’t Trust YouTube to Teach You How to Clear a Main Sewer Line

When it comes to learning DIY tips and tricks for household projects, YouTube can be a great resource for homeowners. But when it comes to dangerous projects and/or projects where the stakes and potential financial costs are high, YouTube can lead you into making costly mistakes that create new problems and increase the overall bill for your sewer repair.

For most homeowners, it makes a lot more sense to hand over sewer work to trusted professionals with experience dealing with repairs, cleanouts, and line replacements. It might cost more than doing the job yourself, but you can have confidence that the job is done right—and that you’re minimizing the risk of additional costs in the future.

With regular maintenance and a practical understanding of the sewer maintenance tasks best left to a professional, homeowners can increase their peace-of-mind about their sewer line, while also saving themselves money through regular cleanings and repair.

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