Main Sewer Line Clogs: Causes, Signs, Solutions

The main sewer line is the largest-diameter pipe connected to all the drains and smaller pipes in the plumbing system throughout the house. The main sewer line is the artery of a home’s plumbing system that channels waste from the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, and other areas out of your home towards the city sewer line or your septic tank.

Over time, frequent use of these drains and flushing of improper items can cause problems in the sewer line, potentially leading to clogs, leakage, or breakage which can be economically draining especially if huge repairs or replacements have to be made. Recognizing the causes and warning signs of main sewer line clogs is essential for preventing such headaches from wear and tear and other accidental damages. The phrase prevention is better than cure sounds very relevant when it comes to plumbing, as recognition of problems with sewer lines and signs of drain clogs at an early stage could potentially save you a fortune in sewer repair charges. 

What Causes Main Sewer Line To Clog?

Sewer line clogs are severe clogs caused by clogging of multiple drains simultaneously in a household due to blockage in the main sewer line which collects wastewater away from your entire house via different drain pipes. Drain clogs, on the other hand, are caused by blockages in the drain pipes that carry wastewater away from your sink drains, toilet, or bathtub drains. Sewer line clogs are different from drain clogs and also require a licensed plumber to repair it.

Here are the common reasons that cause the main sewer line to clog: 

  1. Pouring Grease, fats, and oil down the drain
    Pouring cooking waste like hot oil, grease, and fats can cause severe clogs in your drain pipes and your main sewer line as these things can accumulate in the pipes restricting the proper flow of wastewater. Grease and oil are the enemy of your plumbing system so proper management of these items is absolutely crucial to avoid damage to your plumbing.
  2. Debris Flushed down the Toilet Drain
    Debris and foreign items like sanitary products and wipes can obstruct the sewer line. Debris flushed down the drains can eventually end up in your sewer line obstructing the pathway for wastewater to flow freely. Paper products and plastics can take time to disintegrate and can cause clogs in the drainage and sewer line as a whole.
  3. Tree Root Infiltration
    Tree root infiltration is an alarming issue for the sewer lines as expanding roots of various plants around your home could restrict water flow or even cause breakage in your pipes, drains and sewer lines. As unlikely as it may sound, tree root infiltration is one of the leading problems of sewer line clogs in households around the world.
  4. Sagging Sewer Line
    A sag, also known as a belly, is a trench inside the sewer lines that holds water even after the flow has ended. A sag in the sewer line can collect waste, gunk and paper, leading to a blockage. A sag in the sewer line occurs when a trench forms at different parts of the sewer pipe and pools still water leading to various issues like clogs, leaks and breakage in the sewer line.
  5. Sewer Pipe Damage
    Sewer pipes can damage with use just like any other part of the infrastructure of the house. Cracked or broken sewer pipes can result in obstructions and compromised flow which can also lead to water leaking around the house. Wear and tear is a part of life for any material product and in case of sewer pipes, continuous use without proper maintenance is a problem that nobody should have to face.

Signs of Clogged Main Sewer Line

Roto-Rooter Main Sewer Line Replacement

There are several signs of a clogged sewer line that most people choose to ignore initially. Accumulation of gunk and debris can occur over time with years of constant use of drains and pipes in homes and commercial buildings. Below, we have listed some of the most common symptoms that you should be quick to make note of, if you want to avoid further problems.

  1. Gurgling/Bubbling Sounds from drains or toilets
    Gurgling/Bubbling sounds from the drains or toilets are the most common yet neglected symptom that indicates a clogged sewer line. A gurgling/Bubbling sound results from the forced expulsion of trapped air through the water in the fixture. Such sounds are not to be neglected as they can signal a potential issue in the sewer line.
  2. Multiple Drain Backups in different areas of the house
    Multiple drain backups in different areas of the house are a critical indication that there is a major issue in the main sewage line. When sinks, showers or toilets in your house encounter backups or poor drainage it may indicate that the main sewage line is clogged. This warning should not be disregarded as it signals extensive problems with the plumbing system.
  3. Clogging of Multiple Fixtures at once
    Clogging of multiple fixtures at once is frequently a result of obstruction or blockage in the main sewage line which connects all of the drainage pipes of your house. As the main sewage line receives wastewater from several sources including toilets, sinks and showers, obstruction of the main pipe may have an immediate impact on multiple fixtures at once. If several fixtures get clogged simultaneously or consistently most probably it indicates a clogged sewer line.
  4. Unpleasant Smells emanating from drains:
    Foul odors emanating from the drain often indicate blocked debris or sewer accumulation in the sewer system. Unpleasant smells may be more noticeable when running water or flushing toilets. The presence of an unpleasant smell should alarm the homeowner to take immediate action. Early identification enables preventive maintenance, reduces plumbing system damage and promotes a more comfortable living environment.

Sewer Line Unclogging Solutions

When a sewage line becomes clogged, wastewater can back up into your home or property. This can cause major problems with your plumbing system, including pipes, fixtures, and appliances. The longer you wait to handle the problem, the more probable it is that the harm will worsen. Prompt action can help you avoid expensive repairs or replacements.

Here are common solutions for unclogging a sewer line:

  1. Use of Plunger or Drain Snake/Auger
    A plunger is a simple yet useful tool for removing minor obstructions from toilets or drains. It generates a vacuum and pressure to release the obstruction. Drain snakes or augers are long, flexible equipment used to physically break apart or recover obstructions in drains or pipelines. When you face a slight blockage, these tools are usually the first line of defense. They are widely accessible at hardware stores and are quite simple to operate.
  2. Traditional Sewer Line Repair or Replacement
    Traditional repair or replacement procedures may be required if the obstruction or damage to the sewage system is significant. This basically involves excavating affected areas, removing the damaged part, and replacing it with new pipes. Replacing or repairing sewer lines can be expensive sometimes so it’s best to have them checked periodically to avoid any unforeseen circumstances.
  3. Trenchless Sewer Line Replacement and Repair
    Trenchless sewage line repair and replacement technologies are less intrusive than traditional excavation methods. In this approach, a flexible liner coated with resin is inserted into the existing pipe. Trenchless techniques are frequently speedier, less intrusive, and more cost-effective than traditional excavation, making them an appealing alternative for many homeowners. Trenchless sewer replacement methods are gaining in popularity as they are noninvasive and quick in identifying and fixing problems. 

Preventive Measures to Avoid Clogged Sewer Lines

Preventive measures can help maintain the health of the sewer line. These include:

  1. Routine Drain Cleaning with homemade cleaners:  
    Cleaning out your drains at home with regular homemade cleaners is very useful in preventing drains and sewer lines from clogging. Household items like salt, baking soda, vinegar, borax and cream of tartar can be used in various proportions to create cleaners that clear out minor to moderate clogs in drains and sewer lines. Using homemade cleaners on a regular basis ensures that your pipes and drains remain as good as new for a long time.
  2. Avoid Flushing items other than human waste and tissue paper in toilets:
    Foreign items often end up in our drains, especially in the kitchen and the toilet. While it may seem like the item has flushed down at first glance, it may get stuck somewhere in your drain pipes or your sewer line causing an issue within the next few days. Flushing items other than human waste and toilet paper down the toilet should be avoided and the same applies to kitchen sink drains and kitchen waste. 
  3. Use of Strainers in sinks to block unwanted waste:
    Using strainers in kitchen sinks, bathtubs, and bathrooms is one of the best preventive measures against foreign objects. Using a strainer limits the entry of debris, hair, plastic, and other materials in the drains which in turn reduces the chances of the pipes and sewer lines clogging. Using a strainer is easy and is advised by most plumbers to help reduce the chances of clogs and blockages in your plumbing system.
  4. Sewer Line Inspection every two years:
    Sewer lines at home should be inspected regularly. The optimal period of having your sewer lines inspected by trustworthy plumbers is every two years. This helps in keeping track of the condition of your plumbing system, including the pipes, drains, and sewer lines. Many homeowners choose to ignore this and end up spending a fortune on plumbing and maintenance fees when they face severe clogs, leaks and blockages in their drains and sewers.

Need for Professional Sewer Line Clearing Services

In severe cases, addressing sewer line clogs should be strictly handled by plumbing professionals to ensure the system is maintained with proper care. For inspecting unforeseen clogs or determining the type of clog, considering a sewer line inspection from a professional is a wise approach. Taking such actions not only helps in maintaining the integrity of the plumbing system but also safeguards the home against potential damages and expensive repairs. 

Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Water Cleanup offers professional sewer unclogging services and also provides repair and replacement services for collapsed or damaged sewer lines. Being one of the most trusted names around the US for plumbing services, Roto-Rooter has been providing top-notch plumbing, drainage, sewer line repair, clean up, and replacement services as well as 24/7 emergency plumbing services in California.  Give us a call today to have your pipes inspected by our team of highly skilled and experienced plumbers who will not only give you solutions to problems that you may have but also tips to prevent them from happening ever again in the future.