Is Your Sewer Line Clogged or Broken?
February 6, 2019

When experiencing a sewer backup  it is hard for the average homeowner to determine the cause without professional guidance. The first sign of a problem is usually after smelling an unusual odor or a visual inspection of sewage backing up in the area of the sewer trap.

Sewage backup near trap
Sewage backup near trap
What is the first step to determine what the problem is?

It is suggested to hire a reputable drain cleaner who is also capable of utilizing a sewer camera to investigate the inside of the pipe. He should first attempt to clear the sewer line with a standard sewer snake (spartan is a common brand used for this type of work). If you are lucky he will run the the snake, pull out a few roots and clear the line in a short period of time.

Roots removed from sewer
Roots removed while clearing sewer backup

In this case you should be mindful about the roots in your sewer line and consider an annual maintenance even if you are not experiencing backups. Once roots have entered your sewer line they will continue to grow and there is not turning back. If you let the roots continue to grow without any maintenance they can end completely clogging your pipe without the possibility of clearing it with a snake.

Roots removed from sewer excavation
Roots removed from sewer excavation

If the sewer cleaner is hitting an obstruction he may attempt to clear the sewer line with a more powerful sewer machine or a water jet which will try to remove the blockage with water pressure. If the sewer line is still not clear at this time it is suggested to utilize a sewer camera for a formal inspection.

Inside of a clear sewer line
Inside of a clear sewer line

Inside of sewer loaded with roots
Inside of sewer loaded with roots

Assuming you do not have water or sewage sitting in the pipe, the camera inspection should give you a clear picture while assisting you in determining why the sewer line is backing up. A few common reasons would be if the sewer line is cracked, separated or the pipe is pitched backwards not allowing the sewage to run on gravity as intended. In all of these the sewer requires a repair of full line sewer replacement.

Steps to take for sewer repair or replacement

At this point you should know the location of the problem and start to discuss the pros and cons of replacing or repairing your sewer line. There are many factors that your licensed contractor should bring to your attention. Several of the variables are obtained direct from the city along with an above ground investigation of your sewer line.

If repairing or replacing, the process is the same. Both options require DEP & DOT permits as well as inspections if working outside of the property line.  Once the permits are in hand the excavation process begins using a backhoe.

Sewer repair excavation with backhoeOnce we reach the location of the old pipe it is removed and the new cast iron pipe is installed

New cast iron being installed Now that the new pipe has been installed the DEP will perform an on site inspection if required, and the excavation is back filled in anticipation of our final roadway or sidewalk restoration.