Yes, we do clean sewer lines! We have the same types of machines that the traditional “rooter” companies use. In addition to being able to clear your sewer line, a licensed plumber can also install clean outs or repair/replace sewer lines if that is what is required. This is something ‘the other guys can’t do. Did you know companies that strictly clean sewer lines are not licensed plumbers? Anyone with the tools and the desire to open a business can – no license required.
This surprises us too! Sewer lines are a complex and important part of any household’s plumbing. Some would argue that your main sewer line is the most important part.
What Is A Clean Out?
A clean out is an opening in your main sewer line and is normally located outside beside your house. This allows our technicians to have access to your sewer line easily and it also protects your home from sewage overflow. Some houses still have clean-outs in the basement only. For liability reasons, we don’t allow our technicians to carry our heavy machines into basements to clean out lines. If you don’t have a clean out, we can always install one! If you’re not sure what a clean out looks like, please look at the photo to the right.
What Are Sewer Lines Made Of?
From the 1800s to the late 1970s sewer lines were made from one of two materials.
- Orangeburg: This material was a little thicker than tar paper and wrapped many times around to form a hard-ish pipe that was still soft enough to be cut by a hand saw.
- Clay Tile: This material is similar to what you would put your potted plants in. It cracks easily and is porous.
From 1970 to current we typically only see one of three materials.
- “Schedule 40” PVC: This is ideal and what most professional plumber use today. This material is non-porous and very thick. It is almost entirely resistant to tree roots and does not grow “fingers” that can catch on waste passing through. This material has the longest life of anything and is what we use when replacing a sewer line.
- Cast Iron: We all know what cast iron is. It’s heavy and rough. Even the smallest “catch” in a sewer line can hook onto toilet paper and cause a blockage. See the photo to the right and think about how easy it would be for toilet paper, baby wipes, or anything else you flush to attach to the side of the pipe and being to cause a blockage. Even once the blockage is cleared away the problem and potential hazard still exists. Cast iron is simply not a worry free material for sewer drain lines.
- “Thin Wall” PVC: Not all PVC is made equal. If you’re having a sewer line replaced, check with the plumber that they are using “schedule 40 PVC”. Thin wall PVC looks the same to the untrained eye, but it’s weak and prone to problems within a few years. Some plumbers have used this type of pipe because it’s less expensive and it’s a big No-No. Due to the thinness of this pipe, it easily cracks and can allow tree roots in. This can happen as soon as 2-3 years after being replaced.
What Else Could Be Wrong With My Sewer?
Below you will find a list of the most common reasons we see sewer line failures and the explanation of what each one is. In all of the examples below the sewer lines have to be dug up and either graded properly or replaced with new.
Sheared Off: Sewer lines can become sheared off from ground shifting from natural causes or earthquakes. Once this happens the flow of waste water is interrupted.
Has a belly: A belly can develop after time with any material that is porous and old. A belly disrupts the smooth flow of waste water.
No grade: Sewer lines made out of ideal material can still have issues if the grade isn’t correct. There’s an old saying that “poo runs downhill.” It’s a saying because it’s true! Without gravity, you will have backups!
Collapsed: A collapsed sewer causes problems for obvious reasons. They can collapse from the weight of the earth, shifts in the ground, and material wearing away from age.
Channeling: A channel most likely started as a belly. Eventually, the sewer material just rots away and opens to the bare earth.