How To Clear A Main Line Blockage
Plumbing issues can be tricky – and a drain problem is one of the most common things that homeowners face. Drain clearing can be an easy fix, but other times you may need to call in a professional, which can get expensive.
This post will help you determine if you are dealing with a slow drain that can be resolved on your own, or if severe clogs exist in the main sewer line. (These will require professional equipment as the average drain cleaner won’t cut it.)
Even though we are a plumbing company, we realize that people want to avoid a large bill that often comes with an emergency service call. We often recommend some basic troubleshooting on your own before making that call. So let’s discuss how to evaluate a blocked drain.
Clog Location: Slow Sink, Floor Drain or Main Sewer Line Clog?
The most common and “fixable” blockage occurs in the pipe near the plumbing fixture. This could be a kitchen sink, toilet, or shower drain. A store bought chemical drain cleaner or plunger will often resolve basic problems like this.
In fact, you can even make your own natural drain cleaner to dissolve grease and fats. If this approach doesn’t work, you’ll need basic a plumbing service which is discussed next.
A clogged drain that is harder to reach, or that has developed and grown over time, will need extra firepower. A plumber will have tools such as a drain snake or auger that has the reach and power to dislodge items further from the drain opening.
This is the most common method used by a drain cleaning service in nearly every state. But if this isn’t able to resolve the issue, you likely have a sewer clog.
Sewer Line Cleaning:
Your sewer pipe (also called a main drain line) begins where the pipes exit your home, and travel to either the city sewer pipe or your septic tank system.
A sewer main line clog is more serious for several reasons. First, the type of clog needs to be identified in order to properly address it. Tree roots in sewer pipes need to be approached differently than a deteriorating line that needs replacement.
Barring a broken main sewer line needing CIPP relining, most clogs will be easily resolved using a hydro jet cleaner operated by an experienced technician. These powerful water jets cut through roots, debris, and leave the line in “like-new” condition after cleanout.
Why Should You Cleanout Main Sewer Issues?
One of the biggest reasons these issues need attention is avoiding sewage backup. Sewer cleanout will help you avoid property damage inside your home from back-flowing sewage, avoid further problems with the city, and help preserve your septic system if you’re on rural land.
Know the Signs of a Main Sewer Line Clog
Before you bring out the pipe snake or try to fix anything yourself, it’s important to know the signs of a clogged sewer line. The location of the clog will determine how you address it and whether or not you’ll need to call a local drain cleaning company for help . Here’s what to look for:
- Backed up sinks and showers
- Discolored, smelly water
- Toilet drainage in the shower or tub
How to Clear A Main Line Blockage: Basic Approach
We are now going to talk about the mechanics of how to clear a main sewer line blockage. Some homeowners are inclined to first attempt a cleanout themselves, or simply want to understand what is involved when a plumber is called.
What You’ll Need
Before you get started, you’ll need to gather the supplies listed below. As a side note, you’re going to want to use a professional grade pipe auger – not the small ones you get from the grocery store.
Main line sewer clogs usually require heavy duty suction and a long drain snake to reach the problem area. Luckily, you can rent a professional grade plumbing snake like the one discussed on that post from most hardware stores.
- Waterproof work gloves
- Garden hose
- Plumbing snake/pipe auger (can be rented at most hardware stores)
- Pipe wrench
- Waterproof shoes/boots (recommended)
Steps For How to Clear A Main Sewer Line Clog
1. Loosen the Drain Pipe Cap (Cleanout Pipe)
The first step is to find your main drain cleanout location. Look for a small white pipe that sticks a few inches out of the ground. It is often located near a flower bed. Use the pipe wrench to loosen the cap. Do it slowly, and allow it to sit for a few seconds before you remove the cap entirely. This will help you avoid any sudden sewage or water spillage. Be ready to step away.
2. Remove Cap, Allow Build-Up to Drain
Once you remove the cleanout cap, step away quickly. The clog will probably have caused waste to build up. Once you remove the cap, it may come spilling out quickly. Allow the pipe to drain excess water completely before you try to do anything else. This is where the waterproof boots and gloves will come in handy!
3. Insert the Snake into Pipe
Once the pipe has finished draining, begin to gently feed the auger into the opening. Make sure to read the instructions before you begin; each pipe snake will have slightly different instructions. Augers are common tools used by Arlington drain cleaning professionals. If you don’t have one, consider renting from a hardware store for one-time use.
Feed the auger slowly into the pipe until you reach the clog. You’ll know you’ve hit it when the snake becomes hard to move. There might be more than one, but work your way down.
4. Run the Tool Until Clog Is Gone
Run the auger until you don’t feel any more resistance, and the water build up in the pipe is gone. This indicates the blocked pipe is clear. Continue to run the auger even after the clog is gone, as there could still be small clumps of debris after the drain clog has cleared or broken up.
5. Clean Up
After you are done, leave the auger in the pipe and hose it down with water. Make sure the nozzle is on full blast and give everything a thorough rinse – as this will help clear out any left over junk that could cause another clog. Afterward, you’ll also want to hose down the pipe snake before you put it away.
Sewer Main Line Pipe Still Clogged?
If after following those steps, your main drain line is still blocked, you might need to use a hydro jetting service that has more power and the ability to reach the clog. It might be time to call a licensed plumbing company to help.
Sometimes, other more severe plumbing issues can present as a sewer backup. If left untreated they can result in thousands of dollars of damage down the road. This is better to avoid with a small expense now for peace of mind.