When Good Sewer Lines Go Bad

28 July 2017
 Categories: , Blog


Unfortunately, that's not crude oil bubbling up from your sink or tub drains. When your sewer line becomes clogged, raw sewage has nowhere to go but up, and it backs into your home.  This may be disorienting, because you may be running water or flushing the toilet in one location, but the sewage will flow from a different drain. You may be able to clear the sewer line, or you may need a section or the entire sewer line replaced, depending on the severity of the situation.

Clearing your sewer line

You can gain access to your sewer line through a clean-out fitting that is designed for that purpose. It is shaped like the small letter "y" and is located either at the lowest point of the vertical main drain line inside your home or directly outside your home. You will need a pipe wrench to remove the plug cap from the end of the fitting and a drain snake to attempt to clear the line. What's a drain snake and how does it work? A drain snake is a round metal cable with a pointed auger spring tip at the end. The tip is inserted into the clean-out opening and the cable fed into the drain line.  The cable must be turned continuously to allow the auger tip to burrow through the drain line. Manual drain snakes are equipped with an adjustable handle that clamps onto the cable to provide necessary leverage for turning the cable.  Powered drain snakes use hydraulic power to turn the cables with greater force. If a manual snake cannot dislodge a clog, you may choose to rent a powered model from your local home improvement store.

However, if a snake cannot solve the problem, you may need some replacement sewer services.

Replacing your sewer line

Your sewer line may not have aged well, and could be broken in various places from shifting or clogged with tree roots that have compromised its intergrity in search of water.

You will need a provider of sewer services to inspect the entire sewer line in order to determine the correct course of action. If you need some or all of the line replaced, you still have options.

Traditional sewer line replacement

Using a less expensive method of digging a trench to replace the sewer line has been the traditional method, and it is still used for those who don't have a problem with a deep trench being dug across their property. However, if you have a driveway or garden that you wish to protect, you can choose a trenchless method.

Trenchless sewer line repair

As the title suggests, no trenching is needed using these procedures. One method involves pulling an epoxy coated sleeve through the old sewer line. A bladder is then inflated inside the sleeve to press it against the inside of the old pipes. As the epoxy cures, a new sewer line is formed inside the old one.

If the old sewer line is too disjointed and broken, a different method is used. A tapered metal piece is attached to a new sewer pipe and pulled through the old pipes with great force, shattering and scattering the old pipe and dragging the new pipe into the old space.

While trenchless methods are more expensive, they are completed in much shorter time and are much less destructive to your property than digging trenches. The choice is yours.