2 Ways To Determine A Sewer Line Blockage In Your Home's Sewer Main

Posted on: 13 December 2016

You know you may have a sewer main clog when your home's bathtub drains gurgle or have a low suction during draining or when your basement drains spew up sewage occasionally. Here are two methods to use to help you determine if your home's sewer main is damaged and is causing a blockage and needs repair.

Determine the Material and Age of Your Sewer Line

Knowing the age of your home and when it was built can help you determine what type of sewer line may have been installed in your yard and decide if it needs replacement. Many older homes were built and installed with sewer lines made from materials that weren't intended to last as long as the house would. This leads to collapsed, cracked, and clogged sewer lines leading from your home's sewer system and to the city's main sewer line. And, because you as the homeowner are responsible for the length of sewer pipe out to the connection at the city's main line, you are responsible for replacing the sewer line.

Orangeburg Pipe

If your home was built before 1960, there is a really good chance its sewer line is old enough that is has become damaged and needs replacement. Orangeburg pipe began to be used in home sewer lines in 1948. Orangeburg pipe is a combination of wood fibers and tar compressed together to form a pipe. Unfortunately, this type of material installed in underground pipe can collapse from the weight of the soil above it and as it breaks down with age. 

Cast Iron Pipe

Cast iron pipes were installed in homes between the 1950s and 1970s and usually only last 25 to 30 years. The cast iron inside your sewer pipe channels away as sewage flows through it, eroding the entire bottom of the pipe until sewage seeps into the soil. The soil and jagged eroded edges of the sewer pipe can trap debris and cause blockages inside the pipe.

Clay Pipe

Clay pipes were also used and installed in home sewer pipes between the 1950s and 1970s. Pipes made from clay are porous and more likely to have tree root growth into the pipe's exterior. Tree roots can also access the interior of a sewer pipe through cracks around the pipe's connection seams to grow inside and form clogs. Interior tree root growth is common because tree roots seek out the nutrients from your home's waste inside the pipe, which allows them to explode in growth.

PVC Pipe

If your home was built in the 1980s it was most likely installed with a plastic or PVC pipe, which is durable and can last up to 100 years. So, if your home fits within the age range and you have a plumbing clog, it may be caused by another problem other than a failed sewer line.

Complete an Interior Sewer Inspection

You can also determine what has caused your home's sewer main blockage by visually inspecting the inside of your sewer line. You can complete this in two different ways.

First, you can hire a plumbing professional to run a camera on the end of their power auger and inspect the interior of your sewer line. Then, they can use their power auger to clean out any clogs inside the line. They will have experience on viewing and understanding what the camera shows about the interior of your pipe. They will also have experience to be able to tell approximately where along the length of your sewer line a blockage has occurred.

You can also choose to rent a power auger with a camera to do the work yourself, but you run the risk of not being able to maneuver the end of the auger through the sewer line and of getting it caught on debris and not being able to complete the inspection.

Once inside the sewer line, you or your plumbing professional can tell what is clogging the line. If your sewer line has collapsed, eroded, or been invaded with tree roots, you will be able to determine this during the inspection. Then, with the information you can determine how you will proceed to repair the sewer line with excavation and replacement or by lining the old line with a new line using a trenchless repair.

Use this information to help you determine the age and condition of your home's sewer line to proceed with repair options. Contact a company like Towers Murray Plumbing to learn more.