How To Keep Your Main Sewer Line Clean

March 15, 2022

A few simple tips can keep your main sewer line free of clogs.

If you have a clogged pipe, you might think it’s more of an inconvenience than a serious problem, but they can indicate leaks, corrosion, or other damage to your plumbing system that will require repair. Worse, sewer line clogs can cause water backups that contaminate your home’s water with sewage.

It's important to keep your main sewer line as clean as possible to prevent unnecessary plumbing repairs and replacements and keep your home’s water clean.

So, to help keep your main sewer line in tip-top shape for years to come, in this blog, we’ll cover:

  • What is your main sewer line
  • How to know if your sewer line needs to be cleaned or cleared
  • Tips to keep your main sewer line clean

If your home already has multiple clogged drains, it might be a good idea to have a plumber evaluate your sewer line for repair. At Red Cap Plumbing & Air, we’re available 24/7 for all your emergency plumbing needs. Give us a call at (813) 963-3056 to schedule an appointment.

What Is Your Main Sewer Line?

If you picture your plumbing system like a tree, your main sewer line would be the tree’s trunk—it’s the primary line all your plumbing appliances feed into. Water flows from your sink, shower, or toilet to the main sewer line via secondary drain lines similar to a tree’s branches.

Because all your home’s wastewater flows through your main sewer line, it’s a serious issue if your main sewer line becomes clogged. Continuing to use any appliances when you have a main sewer line clog can result in a backup of wastewater, contaminating your home with bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.

If you notice your home has several backed-up drains, you probably have a clog in your main sewer line.

How To Know If Your Sewer Line Needs To Be Cleaned or Cleared

If you have a drain that continues to clog, a plumber can either clean or clear your drain. Clearing your drain might resolve the problem for minor clogs, but cleaning your drain is a more thorough service with long-term benefits.

When a plumber clears your drain, they remove one clog typically caused by a buildup of debris using a drain snake. When a plumber cleans your drain, they force highly pressurized water through your plumbing system to wipe out any persistent clogs.

You might need a drain cleaning if you notice your plumbing system has recurring clogs, emitting a bad smell, or making a gurgling sound. If you’d like to learn more about whether a drain cleaning or drain clearing is a better option for you, check out our blog on drain clearing vs. cleaning.

Tips To Keep Your Main Sewer Line Clean

There are several things you can do to help prevent pesky clogs in the first place. Follow the best practices below to keep your main sewer line as clean as possible.

Avoid Putting Things Down the Drain That Will Clog It

There are a lot of household items we put down our drains that can contribute to clogs over time. Follow the guideline below to prevent clogs from forming.

  • Kitchen sink: Don’t put fat, cooking oil, grease, raw meat, flour products (like pasta or bread), paper, and coffee grounds down your kitchen sink, since these items can all create clogs over time. Additionally, eggshells, animal bones, and fruit pits can jam the garbage disposal, resulting in water backup.
  • Showers/bathroom sink: Avoid washing hair down these drains if possible.
  • Toilets: Only flush waste and toilet paper down a toilet.

To avoid clogs, never flush foreign objects down the toilet.

Since clogs from debris are one of the main ways main sewer lines become clogged, it’s important to understand what our plumbing can and can’t handle. If some of these items are unavoidable...

Install a Garbage Disposal and/or Drain Strainer

Some clog-forming items are impossible to keep out of your drains. Install a garbage disposal or drain strainer to protect your plumbing system from these items.

If hair is constantly clogging your drain when you shower, an inexpensive drain strainer can be useful. Drain strainers sit over the top of your drain and catch any hair or other large items before they enter your plumbing system. You can find a drain strainer at most grocery or hardware stores.

If food clogging your kitchen sink is an issue, a garbage disposal can help by breaking up food items before they enter your plumbing.

Run Your Garbage Disposal With Cold Water

If you already have a garbage disposal, make it more effective by running a continuous stream of cold water when it’s in use. Running your disposal with hot water can make some items melt (e.g., butter or dairy products) and stick to the walls of both your garbage disposal and pipes, causing buildup and clogs over time.

It's also a good idea to run cold water for 10 to 15 seconds after clearing your disposal to ensure all debris makes its way through your pipes.

Don’t Use Chemical Cleaners To Unclog a Drain

If you have a clogged drain, don’t use chemical cleaners to try and unclog it. These harsh chemicals corrode your pipes over time.

Instead, try flushing the clog first with hot water. If that doesn’t work, use an enzyme cleaner instead of a chemical cleaner. It takes longer to see results with an enzyme cleaner (typically 8 to 24 hours), but you’ll get the clog out while protecting your pipes.

Plant Trees and Bushes Away From Your Sewer Line

So far, we’ve been focusing on man-made disruptions to your sewer line. However, roots from trees and bushes can infiltrate your sewer line, causing serious problems.

Overgrown tree roots can wreak havoc on your main sewer line.

Your sewer line typically runs underneath your yard. If it has cracks, the wastewater it leaks will be particularly tempting to plants. These plants may grow their roots directly into it, resulting in blockages.

Plant trees and bushes as far from your sewer line as possible to prevent roots from growing into it.

Schedule Annual Maintenance of Your Sewer Line

The best way to ensure your main sewer line stays clean is to schedule annual maintenance. A plumber can check your sewer line using a small camera to locate minor clogs or leaks before they develop into significant problems.

Is Scheduling Yearly Maintenance Too Much of a Hassle? Let the Team at Red Cap Plumbing Schedule It for You!

Our maintenance plans come in three tiers, so you can choose the level of service that’s best for your family. By joining a maintenance plan, you’ll ensure all your major appliances—not just your plumbing system—are operating at peak performance. Call (813) 963-3056 to join our annual maintenance plan today!

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