If you could take an X-ray of your home, you’d see a network of plumbing that’s mostly concealed behind walls, in unfinished areas such as basements, and underground. While it appears complex, it’s actually fairly simple. Fresh water comes in through the water supply line, and wastewater (anything that gets flushed down a drain) is directed to the sewer main for processing.
Within the wastewater system, you could create two categories: the drains and pipes found inside your home, and the sewer line that runs underground on your property from the home to the sewer main. Both sets of pipes can suffer clogs or blockages, however, they can be caused for different reasons and affect your home in different ways.
Simple clogs that affect an individual drain or toilet can usually be cleared with a plunger or snake. However, an issue in the sewer line is more difficult to locate and fix, and requires the experience of a licensed plumber.
Identifying and fixing a clogged pipe
The most common occurrences of clogs within indoor plumbing are toilets and the trap underneath drains such as sinks, tubs, and showers. The reason is that both have curved channels that are designed to collect a small amount of water that prevents sewer gases from coming up from the drain. But these areas are also where soap, paper products, hair, food scraps, kitchen grease, and more can get clogged.
If only a single drain appears to be blocked or flowing slowly, it’s a sign that you’re dealing with an internal plumbing blockage. These can usually be resolved by plunging or snaking the drain to push the blockage through the trap. We do not recommend using drain cleaning liquids or gels, which can be hazardous to your health and deteriorate the inside of some pipes.
Assessing a sewer line issue
If you notice that multiple drains appear to be affected at the same time (especially in different areas of the home), you may be dealing with more than a simple clog. If there’s an issue with the sewer line, it could cause drains throughout the home to back up or flow slowly.
A few causes of blocked sewer lines are:
- Clogs from household waste (similar to what we described earlier but more significant)
- Old pipes made out of outdated materials that are known to crack, sag, or crumble
- Tree roots that grow into the pipe
Methods for repairing or replacing the sewer line
A damaged sewer line is a serious plumbing issue that needs to be addressed right away, otherwise you could have raw sewage backing up into your home. Traditionally, fixing sewer lines was difficult and disruptive because it involved digging up the entire area on the property to find the blockage and address the faulty pipe.
Thankfully, we have newer, more effective technology that allows us to locate the blockage and provide minimally invasive repair or replacement. For example, using a small camera, we can conduct an inspection from the inside of the sewer line to see exactly what is happening underground. We can then use trenchless replacement methods to fix the problem without digging up large amounts of your property.
Professional plumbers in Evansville, IN
If you experience a blocked or damaged pipe, it’s important to identify where in the plumbing system the issue is occurring. This will determine the best approach to getting things flowing back to normal.