When a pipe clogs in your home, it’s an inconvenience. The toilet refuses to flush or the kitchen sink won’t drain. Many times, these can be taken care of without contacting a plumber.
If the problem is the main sewer line, then it’s a totally different situation. It’s an emergency and it’s not going to get better without professional help. When the main lines back up and sewage starts filling your house, it’s easy to get anxious and overwhelmed.
We’re here to help through the steps you should take when you suspect there is a main line blockage of your sewer.
Difference Between a Drain Clog and Main Sewer Line Blockage
The main sewer line is what takes all the water drainage out of your house including sinks, bathtubs and toilets. It’s a single line for everything.
When the main sewer line is blocked, then it causes drainage and possibly backup issues for all drains. If your bathtub refuses to drain, but the sink is fine, then the problem is with the pipes connected to the bathtub.
If the kitchen sink, bathtub, and toilet all refuse to drain or start to backup, then the problem is likely the main sewer line.
Don’t Try and Fix It Yourself
A main line blockage means you can’t use any drain in your home at all. Take care of this as soon as possible. Trying to fix it yourself is a lost cause.
Why? The main line runs outside of your house and connects to the main city line. An auger or drain snake isn’t going to reach that far and odds are the problem is either a broken pipe or a severe clog that isn’t going to be removed by conventional means.
Instead, clean up any sewage and keep everyone away from the contaminated areas. Sewage can have bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause disease and infection. Don’t ignore the problem, it won’t go away and it poses a significant health risk.
Also, don’t try to use drain cleaner to unclog it. It won’t work and could make the problem much worse. The chemicals in drain cleaner are very caustic.
Shut Off the Water
The last thing you want is any more water backing up into the house. It’s easy to forget the problem, especially if you have children in the home. They’ll use the sink or try to use the toilet and end up making the backup problem worse.
Shut off the water to the home since there’s nothing you can do with it anyway. This prevents others from using it and adding to the problem.
Contact a Plumber
Once everyone is safe and the mess is cleaned, contact a plumber. They’ll want to do a camera sewer inspection so they can determine what’s causing the clog and where it’s at.
They’ll come to the home and place a camera in the drain and scope the line. Sewer line blockages are usually caused by a broken sewer pipe or tree roots grown into the pipes. Main sewer pipes are at least six inches in diameter, so a hair clog or other minor issue isn’t going to clog it.
If you live in an older home, then the sewer lines can become brittle with age. The pipes can break, blocking the line. Tree roots are also a common culprit busting through the pipe and growing into it, blocking the flow.
It’s also possible a severe clog such as years of grease buildup has blocked the pipe. Over time, the grease hardens and becomes a serious physical blockage. Therefore, it’s important to dump grease into the sink because hot water won’t prevent blockage.
Another major cause of sewer backup is items flushed down the toilet. The only thing that should be flushed is your waste and toilet paper. Anything else, even wipes, can cause serious problems in the sewer line.
The Plumber Will Handle the Rest
Once the plumber knows that cause of the blockage and where it’s at, they can begin to fix it. They have specialized tools to help clear problem clogs such as grease, etc. If they can unblock the pipe that way, then the cost should be minimal.
If the problem is a broken pipe or tree roots, then it’s going to be costly. They’ll need to dig up the area around the pipe, clear the blockage and replace that section of pipe. The job can be more difficult in winter months when the ground is frozen.
If there is any way the plumber can fix the problem without digging up your yard, they’ll try it. They may bring in a large truck that can shoot high-pressure water into it to clear the clog.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can wait on. A home needs water and drainage to have a normal living experience.
If you can’t afford the total cost of the job, then see if homeowner’s insurance can help or if the plumbing company has payment options.
Make Sure the Problem is Your Fault
If the blockage is on your property, then you’re responsible for fixing it. Many times, the city will do work on the sewer line and inadvertently break a pipe or cause some other damage.
If the plumber sees that blockage is out in the street and there has been recent sewer line work, then contact the city and see if they’ll fix the problem. Since it’s not on your property, there isn’t much you can do about it anyway.
If the city is responsible, then they should be willing to fix it on their dime.
Don’t Wait on a Sewer Line Blockage
A main sewer line blockage is a serious problem that needs to be remedied quickly. You’re risking the health and wellbeing of your family and you can’t use any of your water facilities. Don’t try and fix it yourself unless you have experience and the proper tools, or you could make the problem worse.
If you want to learn more about sewer line blockages and other common plumbing problems, then please explore our site.