5 Common Causes of Clogged Sewer Lines

All of the drains and pipes in your home led to your main sewer line. Your sewer line transports all of the wastewater from your home to the septic tank or municipal waste management system. Sewer lines last for many years, but constant use can cause sewer lines to become clogged or even rupture, requiring costly repairs or even a total replacement. 

Almost every homeowner has dealt with a clogged drain or slow-running sink or bathtub at some point. While a single clog can be annoying, most are easy to fix. If you begin to experience problems with multiple drains in your home, it could be a sewer line clog. Knowing what causes sewer line clogs and the warning signs to look for can help prevent a costly repair or replacement. 

Common Causes of a Clogged Sewer Line

1. Tree Root Infiltration

A common cause of sewer line blockage comes from trees and shrubs. Trees and large shrubs growing near underground sewer lines send out long feeder roots searching for nutrients. Because a sewer line contains water and organic waste, it’s a prime target for these roots. Any pipe with seams can be invaded by tree roots, clogging them, and even destroying them if the problem goes unchecked. 

2. Shifting Soil

Heavy construction equipment, sinkholes, earthquakes, and excessive rainwater are just a few things that can cause changes in the soil around a sewer line. When the ground around the pipe shifts or settles, the sewer line can sink and create a downhill slope in the wrong direction. Over time, waste accumulates in the sagging pipe, causing a blockage. 

Busted Rusty Pipes

3. Pipe Corrosion

Pipe corrosion is a frequent issue with older sewer lines and results from the metal in the sewer line reacting with the wastewater that travels through them. As pipes age, corrosion can cause pipes to break or collapse. Leaking joints where the seals between pipe sections have broken allow wastewater to escape, causing sewage to leak underground or back up inside the home.

4. Flushing Trash Down Toilets

Only flush human waste and toilet paper to protect your drains and sewer lines. Put diapers, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and other items in a trash can. Even flushable wipes do not break down and can create significant clogs in home plumbing and municipal wastewater systems.

5. Pouring Grease Down Drains

Fats, grease, and oils (FOG) create serious clogs in pipes and drains. People often mistakenly assume that running hot water when pouring grease down the kitchen drain helps wash it away. Once the grease or oil cools off, it will harden and stick to your pipes, leading to serious plumbing clogs. Always pour grease and other cooking fats into a coffee can or jar. Once it solidifies, you can dispose of it in your trash can.

Warning Signs of a Sewer Line Issue

Of course, the most obvious sign of a sewer line problem is sewage backing up inside your home’s drains, but there are other warning signs to look out for, including:

  • Drains that keep clogging
  • Multiple fixtures clogged at the same time
  • Slow drains
  • Sewer gas odor inside your home
  • Strange noises coming from plumbing fixtures

Sewer Line Repair and Replacement Options

While homeowners can perform some drain cleaning and maintenance tasks, a licensed plumber should always perform sewer line repair and replacements. If you suspect that you have a sewer line problem, call a professional plumber. They’ll use a sewer video camera to quickly locate the source of the problem and offer a solution.

Drain cleaning or hydro jetting services may be enough to eliminate certain types of clogs. If the sewer line is damaged or has collapsed, traditional and trenchless sewer line repair options are available.

For traditional sewer line repairs, the existing pipe is removed and replaced with a new one. Extensive excavation is usually required to gain access to existing sewer lines. Repairs can take several days to complete depending on the amount of excavation needed. Traditional sewer line repairs are time-consuming, invasive, and expensive. 

Trenchless technology uses modern techniques and equipment to install or replace underground pipes. There are two primary methods of trenchless sewer replacements: pipe lining and pipe bursting. 

  • With pipelining, a new pipe is installed inside the interior of the existing sewer line by inserting an epoxy-coated sleeve into the sewer drain. The sleeve is then inflated and allowed to cure, which creates a new pipe within the old one. 
  • With the pipe bursting method, a device is inserted into one end of the sewer line, breaking up the old pipe as it moves forward. Attached to the back of the device is a new, flexible sewer line that instantly occupies the space the old sewer line once took. 

Trenchless sewer line repairs offer several benefits for residential and commercial property owners. With trenchless repairs, all that is usually required are a few minor access points. Trenchless repairs are faster, less invasive, and often less expensive than traditional sewer line repairs.

Trust a Professional Plumber for Sewer Line Repairs

The professionals at Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter have the training and experience to handle all of your plumbing needs. If you’re experiencing sewer line problems, we are pleased to offer trenchless technology repair to eliminate property damage and reduce the time associated with sewer line replacement. Call us at (408) 716-1686 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

Our technicians have over 30 years of plumbing experience. We understand that plumbing emergencies can happen at any time. That’s why we offer emergency plumbing services at no extra cost. 

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