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Is Your Main Sewer Line Blocked?

When a pipe clogs in your home, it’s never at a convenient time. Often, these clogs can be fixed without contacting an emergency plumber in Austin. However, 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. Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin is here to help through the steps you should take when you suspect there is a main line blockage of your sewer.

Contact us at (512) 298-4916 or request an estimate today for main sewer line cleaning.

Signs Your Main Sewer Line Is Blocked

If your main sewer line is blocked, you'll start noticing that water will backup in random places. For example, when you flush the toilet, water will suddenly appear in your bathtub or shower. Alternatively, if you run your washing machine, your sink might start to overflow. These are clear signs that you have a blockage or issue with your main sewer line.

Flooded Bathtub and Sink in blue-tiled bathroom

Drain Clog vs 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. If you notice your drainage problem is restricted to one drain, you can likely solve your problem by clearing that one drain using a drain snake or through hydro jetting. When the main sewer line is blocked, then it causes drainage and possibly backup issues for all drains.

The Problem with DIY 

A main line blockage means you can’t use any drain in your home at all. It's essential to take care of this as soon as possible. Trying to fix it yourself is a lost cause, because 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.

What You Can Do to Help

Clean the Area

While you can't clear the clog yourself, you can clean up any sewage and keep everyone away from the contaminated areas. Sewage contains 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 to anyone nearby.

Don't Ignore the Problem or Use Drain Cleaner

Don’t try to use drain cleaner to unclog the sewer line. It won’t work and could make the problem much worse. The chemicals in drain cleaner are very caustic and have eaten through older pipes before, causing even more damage.

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 until a plumber resolves the clog. Shutting off the water prevents others in the home 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 sewer camera inspection so they can determine what’s causing the clog and where it’s located.

What Causes a Main Line Clog?

Your plumbers will come to your location 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 that have grown into the pipes. Main sewer pipes are at least six inches in diameter, so a hair clog or other minor issues are unlikely to be the cause.

Tree Root Damage in a Pipe

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. It’s important never 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 that can't be dissolved, such as toys, feminine napkins, or baby wipes. The only thing that should be flushed is your waste and toilet paper. Anything else can cause serious problems in the sewer line.

The Plumber Will Handle the Problem

Once a plumber knows the cause of the blockage and where it’s located, they can begin to fix it. Plumbers have specialized tools to help clear problem clogs, such as a hydro jetter or more industrial drain snake. If they can unblock the pipe that way, then the cost should be minimal.

Mr. Rooter Technician using a drain snake

If the problem is a broken pipe or tree roots, then the repair will be costly. Your plumbers will need to dig up the area around the pipe, clear the blockage and replace that section of pipe. The job can be even more difficult in winter months when the ground is harder.

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, a main sewer line blockage isn’t something you can wait on repairing. A home needs water and drainage for normal, day-to-day living.

If you can’t afford the total cost of the job, check if your 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.

Mr. Rooter iconAbout the Author: Brett Bidwell, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin

Brett has been a trusted Mr. Rooter owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Austin since 2012. With over 8 years to back him, Brett has experience with a wide range of plumbing related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, and more.