Let’s be honest: you probably don’t spend much time thinking about your home’s sewer line. You don’t want to spend much time thinking about it. As important as it is, the sewer line is, well, kind of gross. However, as a homeowner, you should know the warning signs of potential sewer line trouble so that you can act quickly in the event that something goes wrong. In this article, we’ll review these warning signs, how a sewer line inspection works, and why you should call our team at the first sign of problems.
What are common sewer line issues?
Here are three of the most common issues that Buffalo homeowners encounter with their sewer lines:
Putting down roots
We tend to think of trees and plants as passive, still things. While they do move slowly, trees and their roots do move—especially to seek out water and nutrients. The wastewater in your sewer line has both of these things in spades. When a leak occurs anywhere along the line that runs under your yard, it has the potential to attract thirsty roots to the line. Once the roots reach the line, they either expand into the crack and grow into the line, or wrap themselves around the line, cracking it further.
Your warning sign
First, if you have a tree, bush, or shrub within ten feet of the sewer line, your line is in the danger zone. You should call our team for a sewer line inspection to ensure that there isn’t already root incursion into the line. However, in instances where plants are farther away from the line, you need to be on the lookout for a line leak, which could attract roots to it over time. We’ll review the signs of this in the next section.
Whether caused by the aging material the sewer line is made of or the shifting of the ground due to moisture and frost, your sewer line undergoes stress underground. This stress can eventually lead to the line cracking or fracturing. Most modern sewer lines are made of strong PVC piping, which is good at handling age and stress but can crack. This allows sewage to escape from the contained system and leech into the surrounding ground.
Your warning sign
A leaky sewer line might be something you smell before you see. The potent waft of sewage in your front yard is enough to wake up any homeowner to the signs of a potential problem. In other cases, you may notice a perpetual damp spot in your otherwise dry yard. If this is directly over where the line runs underground, that’s a good sign that it has a crack or leak.
Clogs and blockages
Everything you put down your bathroom toilet or kitchen sink travels through the sewer line. However, some materials tend to adhere to the inside walls of the line, starting potential clogs. Grease, oils, and fats are especially bad in this regard: you should never put these down your sink. The same thing goes for coffee grounds, eggshells, or “flushable” wipes (which are only flushable in name, not in practice). As the trapped material collects, it starts to form a tough clog.
Your warning sign
Most clogs start by partially blocking the downward flow of wastewater. You’ll notice that all of your home’s sinks, toilets, showers, and tubs are slower to drain. Simultaneous drain clogging throughout the home is as sure a sign as any that there’s trouble deep in the sewer line.
When in doubt, schedule a sewer line inspection
So, you’ve noticed one of the warning signs above. What’s next? Well, you’ll want to call our team of experienced plumbers out for a sewer line inspection. Here’s how it works.
Our plumbers have a specialized snake tool (sometimes referred to as an “endoscope”) that has a tiny camera attached to the end. This flexible snake is fed down a drain and into the sewer line. As the plumber pushes the snake further into the drain, they and the homeowner watch the camera screen to see what the end of the tool sees.
- If there’s a tree root in the line, this is something that will be spotted easily, as the snake tool will run straight into it.
- If there’s a grease blockage in the line, the snake tool will also be able to spot it and determine what exactly the blockage is made of. This will help determine how to best clear the clog.
- If there’s a leak in the line, the snake tool will help the plumber find the crack in the pipe.
In all cases, the plumber can pinpoint where the issue is. In the event that the line needs to be dug up and a section needs to be replaced (most common with a tree root incursion or a leak), this allows our plumber to disrupt your yard and the line as little as possible.
Call Reimer to schedule your inspection today
A professional sewer line inspection can be an effective tool for diagnosing suspected sewer line issues or performing preventative maintenance. In fact, we recommend that homebuyers schedule an inspection with us to check out the sewer line of a house they are interested in closing on, especially if there are old-growth trees near the line.
To schedule sewer line services here in Buffalo and Western New York, contact us today.