A staggering 220 million people in the US depend on municipal sewer lines. These drain lines collect and channel wastewater to treatment facilities. The main sewer line of a home is the first to pass wastewater before it reaches these sewer lines. If this line is clogged, the wastewater will not reach the public sewer facility. The clog in your main pipe could cause the sewage back up into your home.
You may be able complete the steps to clear a main sewer line blockage on your own. It will depend on many factors, including the cleanliness of the fitting. This will be discussed in greater detail below. So make sure you continue reading!
A sneak peek into your home’s plumbing network
All plumbing fixtures within your home, including toilets and sinks, are connected to a drain line. A P-trap, which looks like the letter “P”, is a pipe that contains some standing water. This water acts like a seal to stop sewer gases from rising into your home.
The P-traps are then connected to a branch drain line. Branch drain lines are typically located behind ceiling panels, under floors or inside walls. Each branch drain line is then connected to a soil stack. A soil stack is another type plumbing pipe that is buried beneath the soil outside of the home. These pipes are usually located under the house or beneath the lawn or garden.
The soil stacks connect to the main sewer line. This is the point where all branch drains from your home meet. This is where all of your plumbing waste, from liquids to solids, converges.
All these wastes are then brought to the main sewer line, which connects to the septic tank and the municipal sewer line. Most US homes are connected to municipal sewer lines, as mentioned earlier. In either case, homeowners are responsible to all plumbing connections that extend beyond the municipal line. Your responsibility extends to the main sewer line. You are also responsible for maintaining a private septic tank and sewage unit.
What happens if a main sewer line clog develops?
Because it is the main drain line, any obstruction in this line can affect all other drains in your house. This means that you will likely experience multiple clogs in your toilets and drains. Flushed toilet water may back up in your bathtub, floor, or shower drains.
Problems with Main or Branch Drains?
You can use a plunger, or a snake if you only have one blocked sink drain. If you have a slow-flushing toilet for the first time, you can also do this. These are usually signs of a single drain blockage.
However, simultaneous clogs can often be a sign that your main sewer line needs to be cleaned. This is especially true for those who have never had professionals clean out your drains. Your main sewer line may have become clogged from years of plumbing usage.
Tree roots could also be wrapping around main sewer pipes. The roots could be choking the pipes or penetrating them. This can be confirmed using industry-grade sewer cameras.
How to Clear a Main Sewer Line Blockage
If your home is older and has never been renovated, chances are it doesn’t have a clean out fitting. The fitting you have will determine whether or not you are able to clean the main sewer line yourself.
Find the clean-out fitting
Nevertheless, it is important to first locate the plumbing leak in your home. A clean-out fitting refers to a pipe that has a diameter of 3, 4, or 6. It should be visible above ground on the lower floors of a house or outdoors on level ground. You should be able remove the plug with a wrench from the visible portion of the fitting.
Slowly loosen the cover
To remove the cover from the fitting you will need a pipe wrench. It is important not to open the pipe completely as this could cause waste buildup to explode out of the opening. Once the cap is removed, you should get out of the pipe.
Let the buildup spill out
While you should be able to distance yourself from the fitting, make sure that you are able to reach the cover in order for it to fully open. Before removing the cap, secure your footing. The fitting should allow all the waste from the main sewer line clog to escape through the opening.
Allow the buildup to drain until it is completely gone.
Install Your Plumbing Snake
The plumbing snake or auger should be inserted into the clean-out fitting. Follow the instructions on the tool to remove as much clog as possible. This may take several attempts to clear the pipe.
The Snake and the Fittings are on the Move
Before you turn the auger back, rinse it with water while it is still in the drain. This will aid in the disintegration of any remaining debris or smaller clogs. It will also remove any clogs or leftover debris from your plumbing snake.
Once the snake is removed from the pipe, place the cover over the fitting. You can now test your toilets and drains to make sure they are working properly again.