What To Expect When You Call A Plumber To Clean Your Sewer Line

Posted on: 30 November 2015

When you have a clogged drain, it's usually easy to tell if it is just a drain clog or a problem with your sewer line. If your sewer line is clogged, more than one drain in your home is affected. Plus, you'll probably hear gurgling noises in your toilet when water drains from a sink. You may even see water back up in your basement or in a shower drain when you run the washing machine or flush the toilet. These are all signs that water is having a hard time exiting your house, and you need to clean out the sewer line. Since you probably don't own a sewer snake or water jetting equipment, hiring a sewer cleaning expert is the next step. Here's what to expect.

Using The Sewer Snake

The plumbing contractor will probably start off with a sewer snake. This piece of equipment can chew through most clogs, including tough roots. If you have a sewer line cleanout pipe outdoors, the plumber will feed the snake through it and on through the sewer pipe. If you don't have a cleanout, then the plumber may need to send the snake through your toilet. The snake has blades on it that chop up clogs in its path. It is effective on most anything except clogs caused by a line collapse or clogs caused by massive buildup of grease or other deposits that line the entire pipe. If the snake won't advance through the pipe or if using it doesn't fix the problem, the plumber can use a camera to see what's going on.

Visualizing The Problem With A Camera

If the snake doesn't work, you're probably looking at a problem more complex than a pipe full of tree roots. The only way to find out what is happening inside the pipe is to send a camera down it. To do this, the plumber threads a hose through your sewer line that has a video camera attached to the end. The video is sent to a monitor the plumber views in real time. If the pipe is collapsed rather than clogged with debris, it will show on the monitor and the plumber will then know what to do to fix your problem. You may need to have the pipe replaced or have a new liner threaded through it.

Cleaning The Sewer With A Water Jet

If your sewer line is several years old, it probably has buildup of some sort on the walls. This could be mineral deposits from hard water, grease, and soap scum. The deposits grab onto hair and paper, which makes the buildup even thicker. Grease in particular is a big problem since it is thick and sticky. As debris collects on the insides of the line, the diameter for water flow gets smaller and smaller. The best way to deal with this problem is to clean out the sewer with a water jet.

A water jet machine works in a way that's similar to a pressure washer. Instead of a wand, a jet nozzle is attached to the end of the hose. The nozzle shoots water out the back to propel the hose through the sewer line. It shoots water out the front to knock buildup off the sides of the pipes. The water stream is so forceful, it is effective at taking off years of grease and scum residue on the sewer line.

You may need to clean your sewer line every few years or so. If the clog is caused by roots, the roots will probably grow back eventually. If the clog is caused by grease, you can slow down the process by being more careful about letting food and grease go down your drains.