Understanding Your Home Sewer Line


Your home’s sewer line is the workhorse of the plumbing system, but it rarely gets much attention from homeowners. When a sewer line gets clogged, it can cause major damage, it can even cause health problems.
What Do Sewer Lines Do?
Sewer lines take away the wastewater from flushed toilets, showers, baths, dishwashers and sinks. They are the end point for the home’s plumbing system.
The system starts where fresh water enters a home through a pipe from the main water supply provided by the municipality (or well). This pipe splits into two sets of pipes inside the home. The hot water pipe leads to the hot water heater initially, and then joins back with the cold water pipe. These run throughout the house, supplying a steady stream of water to bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.
Living Room
When you use any fixture that involves water, you produce wastewater. When you open the faucet, run the dishwasher, put clothes in the washer, take a bath or use the toilet, wastewater flows into a central drain. This then passes through a trap in the form of a U-shaped pipe. This form holds the water and at the same time stops the buildup of sewer gases from getting into the home.
After the wastewater makes its way through the trap, it flows in a downward trajectory through drainpipes that are fairly large in size. They exit the house under the ground through the house lateral pipe, which runs the length of your lot. Lateral pipes come equipped with cleanouts, openings that make it possible to remove debris or anything that is obstructing the flow of wastewater.
The lateral pipe eventually exits out to the street or to the rear, at which point it connects to your town’s sewer system.
Problems That Can Occur
Clogged sewer lines are one of the main problem(s) that can arise. Since these lines are deep underground, they are very difficult to work on. As a rule, sewer line problems need to be fixed by experts with equipment specifically tailored for sewer work.
However, homeowners should be aware of the types of problems that can occur, like the ones listed here. The sooner you recognize it, the quicker a sewer line pro can repair the problem. This will save you significant amounts by avoiding costly plumbing problems from a backed up sewer line.
The first indicator is if you have several backed up drains at the same time. One clogged drain is a plumbing problem, several means it’s a sewer line problem.
Another indicator is if you suddenly start hearing strange sounds when you run the dishwasher or clothes washer. If you toilet starts to sound like a percolator, or your kitchen drains start gurgling, it could mean the sewer has a problem.
If you live in a home that was built after 1978 and is connected to the city’s sewer line, your home will have a sewer clean-out on the side of your house. If you think your sewer line has a problem, unscrew the cap on the cleanout. If there is drainage within the pipe, your sewer line is backed up.
Sewer lines are underground where you seldom see them. But if for some reason you have dug around them and can see the pipes, check to see if you can see tree roots in the drains. If you can, then you have a problem. The pipes are probably old and roots have penetrated them. This needs to be fixed by experts.
Sewer line issues can cause significant problems if not tended to quickly. The work needs to be done by experts, but the homeowner needs to be aware of indicators that a problem exists.

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