Sewer Line Clogs: Causes and Repair Options

While an occasional plumbing clog can be frustrating, it’s typically an easy fix. But if all the drains in your home begin to back up, it could indicate a more serious sewer line clog. Sewer line repairs or replacements may be needed when drain cleaning efforts aren’t enough to successfully clear a clog.

Over 500,000 sewer backups happen every year, according to the Association of California Water Agencies. Knowing what causes sewer lines to clog and the warning signs to look for can help prevent major repairs or replacements.

Common Causes of Clogged Sewer Lines

Tree Root Infiltration

As tree roots grow, they search for water sources. When tree roots grow near your sewer line, they can begin to grow into the pipe through cracks or damaged joints. Tree root infiltration can lead to severe clogs or a complete sewer line collapse. Avoid planting trees or shrubs near sewer lines to help prevent root infiltration. 

Flushing Trash Down Toilets

The best way to keep your sewer line properly operating is to avoid flushing any type of trash. Nothing should be flushed down toilets except for human waste and toilet paper. Baby wipes, diapers, feminine hygiene products, and even flushable wipes can cause serious sewer line clogs. 

Pouring Grease Down Drains

Fats, grease, and oils (FOG) are common causes of clogs in pipes and drains. Some people think running hot water helps wash grease away. This myth is not true and can lead to serious clogs. Once the grease cools off, it hardens and sticks to the walls of pipes and can lead to complete sewer line blockages. Always dispose of grease in a can or jar. Once it solidifies, you can dispose of it in your household trash. 

Pipe Damage

If you have an older home, your pipes are aging and may start to deteriorate. When sewer lines are broken or ruptured, sewage can’t drain through the system, leading to immediate and frequent backups. Pipe corrosion, leaking joints, shifting soil, or increased traffic on the ground above pipes can damage sewer lines.

Warning Signs of a Sewer Line Issue

Frequent Clogs

If you are experiencing frequent clogs or backups, it’s best to avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners and call a professional plumber to have your drain inspected. If you have a drain that frequently clogs, especially on the lowest level of your home, it may be the result of a break or blockage in the sewer line.

Multiple Clogged Fixtures

Although toilets are the first place clogs are usually noticed, checking the other fixtures in your home is essential. If you have several fixtures clogged simultaneously, that is a strong indication that there is an issue in the main sewer line.

Slow Drains

When a single drain is slow, it is likely an issue with that one drain. If all your drains are draining slowly, you probably have a clogged sewer line. If you have several fixtures that require frequent plunging, there is likely a significant clog somewhere in the drainage system.

Strange Reactions in Plumbing Fixtures

Any strange noises or reactions in plumbing fixtures could be a sign of a serious problem. If flushing a toilet causes the water to back up in your tub or shower or toilet water begins to bubble or gurgle, there may be a clog somewhere in your drain or sewer line.

Changes In Your Lawn

Sewer lines typically extend from your home, through the front yard, and connect with the municipal sewage system. A break in your sewer line may cause a noticeable indentation in your lawn. If you notice a soggy or unusually lush patch of grass, sewage may be leaking from a broken sewer line.

Sewer Line Repair and Replacement Options

Sewer line problems cannot be solved with a plunger or commercial drain cleaners. To resolve a sewer line clog or blockage, you need to call a professional plumber. A trained technician can locate the issue and recommend the right solution. Depending on the cause and the severity of the problem, there are several repair options available:

Rooter and Drain Cleaning

Getting your home’s wastewater flowing is a top priority. Drain cleaning and rooter services can help clear smaller clogs and prepare the line for a video camera inspection.

Video Camera Inspection

Once your sewer line has been cleared for visibility, the next step is to inspect the entire sewer line with a video camera. A video inspection allows plumbing technicians to diagnose the underlying problem accurately without excavation.

After the line has been cleared and the video camera inspection is complete, several options are available to resolve sewer line problems, including:

Hydro Jetting – this is a more permanent solution than the above rooter service. Rather than punching a hole through a blockage to get wastewater flowing, the hydro-jetting process uses high-pressure water jets to thoroughly clean the inside of the pipe, removing grease build-up and even small tree roots for a longer-lasting solution.

Trenchless technology uses modern techniques and equipment to repair or replace damaged sewer lines. There are two primary methods of trenchless sewer line replacements: pipe lining and pipe bursting.

Pipe Lining – a new pipe is installed inside the interior of an 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.

Pipe Bursting – 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 repairs offer numerous benefits for residential and commercial property owners. Trenchless sewer line repairs are faster, less invasive, and often less expensive than traditional evacuation repair methods.

Clean and Maintain Your Sewer Line

Preventative care is the best way to reduce the risk of sewer line clogs and expensive repairs. To prevent sewer line backups, properly dispose of household waste, inspect and trim trees growing near sewer lines, and have a plumbing expert check your sewer line for any signs of damage. You can also schedule an annual sewer cleaning service to keep pipes flowing smoothly.

Call the Trusted Plumbing Professionals in Los Gatos

If you’re experiencing sewer line issues, call Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter & Rooter at (408) 716-1686, or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Our experienced technicians have over 30 years of plumbing experience, and they are ready to help you with all of your plumbing problems, no matter how big or small.

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