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Frequently Asked Questions on Sewer Lines

Unless you have experienced sewer line issues in the past, many people don't know a lot about sewer lines. Here are some common questions and answers regarding your home's plumbing!

What is the difference between drain pipe and sewer line?

A drain pipe inside the home is a secondary line running into your sewer line. This could be a floor drain, laundry drain line, and the lines coming from your bathroom and kitchen. All of these secondary lines flow to your mainline which leads to the sewer line outside of your home. This sewer line empties to the city sewer system or a septic tank.

How do I clear my main sewer line?

A sewer line can be cleared by a blade or hydro jetting. A blade spins very fast in the line and can cut through roots that may have entered the sewer line. Hydro jetting the line uses a high pressure stream of water to clear scale and buildup through the line.

What happens if a sewer line is clogged?

When a clog or blockage is in the sewer line, the wastewater entering the line can not continue to the city sewer system or septic tank. The water present in the line will flow to the lowest drain in the house. This is usually a floor drain or basement bathroom. The line will need to be cleaned in order to restore flow. After a cleaning, it is recommended to have a sewer line scope or inspection to see if the cleaning was effective and to check on the status of the line.

How can the sewer line be inspected?

A sewer line cleanout is typically installed on the mainline for easy entry. Usually this pipe is centrally located within the house and all of the secondary lines flow into it to exit the house into the sewer line. This cleanout may be located in a utility room. If homeowners are remodeling, it's important to find this access point so there is easy access and not walled off in the remodeling process. In older houses that do not have a cleanout, an inspector may need to use a ground floor or basement toilet drain line for entry. Sometimes the best entry is through the rooftop vent stack or a cleanout located in a crawlspace. A home may also have outside cleanouts installed for access and maintenance of the line. The sewer line cameras that can go the entire length of the sewer line can not go through secondary lines like kitchen sinks, floor drains, or laundry lines as the lines are smaller and contain more turns to get to the mainline. There are smaller cameras that can inspect these lines, but are shorter in total length.

What is a single sweep and double sweep cleanout?

A cleanout outside of the home may be single sweep or double sweep for access into the sewer line. A double sweep cleanout has 2 access points with one going towards the house and the other access going away from the house to the septic system or city sewer system. A single sweep cleanout goes one way, usually towards the septic tank or city sewer system away from the house. In new construction, lines that are over 100 feet are required to have cleanouts installed every 100 feet for maintenance.

Is it OK to flush flushable wipes?

NO! Never flush these or baby wipes down a toilet! Flushable wipes last longer than toilet paper and will easily clog a sewer line or toilet line. Numerous municipal wastewater agencies have called for their residents to stop flushing these wipes down their toilets as they are causing buildups in the city sewer system and water treatment facilities. You can read more about this is one of our other blog posts here: The Case Against Flushable Wipes.

My sewer line needs repair, what do I do now?

If your home's sewer line needs repair or replacement, get as much information as you can together. To provide quotes on repairs, excavators and plumbers typically need the length of line that has issues, the depth of the line, and where the line is located (under the street, yard, driveway, foundation, etc.). Be cautious with companies that perform sewer scopes and repairs. We have seen companies "upsell" on repairs and full line replacements that are not needed. Sometimes a line may need a spot repair to fix one section of the line and a total line replacement is not necessary. If you need an unbiased inspection, we are always happy to help! If you have a report and video with locates already, call our office for contractors we've worked with in the past so you can get quotes. We don't receive any kickbacks from these companies, we only want to help give you a starting place on trustworthy companies to call. And of course, always read online reviews for companies you're looking to hire.

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