It’s happened to most of us. Your pair of sunglasses fell off your head right as you flushed, or perhaps your toddler’s toy disappeared without warning. What a bummer, right? At times, something that shouldn’t get flushed, unfortunately, does.

Furthermore, outside forces also persist. Tree roots branch out in search for water, old pipes corrode, and time has its way with mechanical equipment.

Although modern-day plumbing is one of the greatest conveniences in the era we live in, the truth is, not everything is sewer-friendly when it comes to the plumbing system.

What is the Main Sewer / Drain Line?

The “main line” is the large-diameter pipe that carries waste from every smaller drain in order to eventually exit your home. Waste from every shower, sink, garbage disposal, and toilet makes its way here. Think if it as the major “sewer highway” in which all smaller “drain roads” connect.

This drain line leaves your home and runs through your yard. It then eventually connects to the city sewer system or your septic tank.

When it gets clogged, all the fixtures in your home are directly impacted, which is why it becomes an urgent plumbing issue.

how to locate a sewer main line

What Causes A Clogged Sewer Pipe?

Due to its large diameter, the main sewer line doesn’t get clogged frequently. Blockages in a smaller-diameter branch drain are more common than a clog in the main sewer line. However, there’s the likelihood of clogs occurring if large quantities of debris are flushed down the drain.

Nonetheless, it typically occurs when sludge builds-up in old main drain pipes. Given that the line sewer pipe diameter gradually becomes narrow, there’s a higher likelihood that fairly small debris can clog it.

The solution to this problem is an auger, which is a bigger version of the drain snake. Many homeowners are familiar with these as they are usually used to clear smaller drain blockages.

Additionally, a clogged sewer pipe can occur when tree roots in your yard pierce through the joints between the pipes. As a result, they clog the sewer drain pipe.

In this predicament, a professional plumber uses a unique auger with cutting blades or a hydro jet to clear the blockage. A homeowner who has experienced this is advised to have their sewer pipes cleared every two years as a preventative measure.

Thirdly, clogging can happen when old sewer lines entirely collapse, an issue that tends to crop up with old pipes made of cast iron or clay.

Fixing this problem is no easy feat. When pipes break down, this typically entails digging up the yard and replacing the entire sewer drain pipe or a portion of it from the house to the municipal sewer main. Nonetheless, clearing these main line blockages starts at the main sewer line cleanout fitting.

What Types of Pipe is the Main Sewer Line?

Today, these lines are made from 4″ PVC pipe material. However, earlier sewer lines were also made from clay, cast iron, and fiber.

These older types of material commonly led to a damaged a sewer line needing replacement, and were susceptible to tree root intrusion. The material the pipe is made from is typically identified upon a sewer scope inspection.

Why Do House Drains Smell So Bad?

A sewer drain pipe has a pungent odor because of decomposing waste materials that release strong sewer gas. This is why, when there’s a sewer clog somewhere down the line, you need to act fast. (It’s also why there is a safety concern when sewage backup occurs.)

What Is A Main Sewer Line Cleanout?

Before approaching the best method for drain cleaning or repair you first have to locate the cleanout. So, let’s talk about how you can do that.

Upon calling a professional for sewer line cleaning, the plumber will ask where the main cleanout is located. (The service charge will often be based on your answer.)

With an accessible outside sewer line cleanout, the main sewer line is easy to auger or jet. The challenge comes if the plumber can’t easily reach the sewer cleanout.

How to Find the Main Sewer Line in Colder Climates

Finding a sewer cleanout is not always a walk in the park. Although it’s commonly found in a utility area, its infrequent use means homeowners forget about it.

As such, it’s gradually tucked away behind stored items, shelves, or benches, which means you may require searching about with a flashlight to locate it.

In colder regions, the outside sewer line cleanout is typically located in the house to prevent freezing. You may spot a 3 to 4 inch diameter pipe peeking out of the slab floor of the basement.

The sewer drain pipe could be made of plastic or cast-iron; it might be copper or brass in rare cases. The stub-out will have a screw-in plug coupled with a square-head lug on it, representing your access to the main drain.

When there’s a blockage in the main drain, you’ll need to reach the clogged sewer pipe to auger it clear of the obstructions. Stubborn clogs or foreign objects such as tree roots will require hydro jetting in order to resolve the problem.

Keep your eyes peeled for a cross-tee, sanitary, or Y-fitting in the absence of a cleanout fitting at the bottom of the vertical soil stack, where it goes down underneath the floor. Moreover, the fitting will contain a plug fitting with a wrench lug on it.

How to Locate the Outside Sewer Line Cleanout in Warmer Regions

The main sewer line cleanout is typically found on the exterior of a property in warmer climates. This is very common for our plumbing company in DFW.

You’ll need to examine all sides of the house with a keen eye to discover it, as there can be more than one, and obscured by landscaping or bushes.

Usually, the sewer line cleanout is set into a concrete slab or ground with a hinged round cover. Alternatively, it can be a raised pipe containing a screw-in plug.

Look for a round white cap sticking up from the ground and within 5 feet of your home’s perimeter, even in flower beds.

Are You Still Unable To Locate Your Main Sewer Drain Pipe?

If you’re calling a plumber, they will be able to help you locate this pretty quickly based on their experience.

Going the DIY route? If you’re still having trouble finding the main sewer line in your house, call your city government. It keeps maps that help residents locate a line sewer pipe and other underground utilities.

A boatload of municipalities will provide adequate information over the phone. If they’re unable to, make a quick stop at the building’s safety and engineering departments.

After giving them your exact address, they can access the map archives in a jiffy where they’ll have a sewer map of your neighborhood.

Rely On Local Plumbing Experts

Dealing with a main sewer line clog or repair can be intimidating. Usually, the task is too big for the average homeowner trying to use a drain snake, and we won’t even get started in the ‘gag reflex’ factor due to the pungent smell.

Save yourself the time and effort by reaching out to a professional plumber today. We deal with more than one clogged drain every day, so nothing surprises us.

Putting off a sewer backup will only lead to bigger problems down the road. We’re only a phone call away and ready to take care of any sewer problem you’re facing to resolve it fast.

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