How Often Should a Sewer Line Be Cleaned ?

September 26, 2012

Are you experiencing periodic sewer backups that are starting to become more frequent?  There are a number of reasons why this may be taking place, most often the sewer line is clogged or has a break at some point in the pipe in-between the roadway and the house trap.  If you currently have a 4” sewer pipe there is good chance that the pipe may not be big enough to handle all the sewage from washing machines, toilets, sinks etc.

All sewer lines should be cleaned out periodically as a preventative measure against any future problems however, if a sewer pipe already has a break there is no way to fix the problem without replacing the pipe.  A good rule to follow is to make sure your main sewer line is cleaned at least once every 18-22 months. If you are following this rule and the need for a cleaning is becoming more frequent, you may want to have a video inspection of your sewer pipe completed  A video will assist you in determining what is causing the backup, whether it is a blockage; break in the pipe or tree roots in the pipe.

Methods used for cleaning the main sewer line:

  • Hydrojet cleaning is a method that uses high pressured streams of water to free the pipe of any obstruction.  This method is very effective in large apartment buildings due to the extra volume and a restaurant as it is more prone to have grease build up which may stick to the sides of the pipe resembling a glue like substance.
  • Snaking involves the use of a metal devise that is pushed down through your pipe to break up an existing blockage.  This method may be safest on an older sewer pipe as any other method using too much pressure may compromise the integrity of the pipe resulting in a crack or break in the sewer line.   If the blade on the end of the sewer snake comes back shiny, this means that snake exited the pipe through a crack or break and reached the surrounding soil allowing blade to clean itself off.

How Do Tree Roots Get in the Main Sewer Pipe?

Tree roots can easily enter a clay sewer line, all it takes is a very small crack in the pipe.  If a sewer line is not properly maintained, the roots will continue to grow causing larger problems.  It is very important to maintain your sewer line for tree roots in the beginning stages or the pipe will continue to fill with tree roots forcing additional cracks and in many cases, a break in the pipe.

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