Fixing a Blocked Sewer by DFW’s Plumber, Staggs Plumbing
Your home’s sewer system takes all the dirty water from sinks, toilets and washing machines through a series of pipes from inside your house out to the city’s sewer system. These pipes, which are usually PVC (or older homes may use iron) are flushed whenever water is run through them. They get rid of the waste through gravity as opposed to some internal pressure like the water lines that come into your home.
Over time, these pipes can get clogged, either by nature or by someone inside the house.
Tree roots are a major culprit. As they grow, the roots can impact the pipes, or even if there is the smallest crack in a pipe, the roots will seek it out and find a way inside the pipe.
Sometimes, we will clear out a blocked drain due to small toys or large wads of paper products. Yes, it happens when little Johnny decides to teach his favorite toy how to swim!
Warning Signs of a Stopped up Sewer System
- When taking a shower, water isn’t draining properly, and you find yourself standing in water even when the shower has been turned off.
- The bathtub takes a long time to drain, perhaps even gurgling as it eventually drains out.
- Toilets are not flushing properly – water remains in the bowl, perhaps slowly draining.
- There is an odor outside of your house, perhaps near where the drain pipes exit your home.
- Drains in one or more sinks are draining slowly.
- You often hear gurgling sounds when flushing the toilet.
- There are damp areas on your yard long after rain or sprinklers have been running, perhaps with a foul odor.
Causes of Blocked Sewage Pipes
- Tree roots or other plant-based objects.
- Excess paper or non-organic products going being flushed down the toilet.
- Fat being poured down the drains.
- Even small dead animals can get stuck.
- Accumulation of hair and soap scum.
Fixing the Blockages
Depending on the type of block, we have several tools at our disposal.
Condensation on the water pipes or even a small leak will attract tree roots. To clear out this clog, Staggs Plumbing will send down a device to cut through the tree roots and clear the blockage. Then we’ll need to assess if the pipe needs repairing. Since these are typically outside of the house, it makes the location a little easier.
This involves sending down a high pressure water jet to clean out debris stuck to the pipes. We try to limit the use of any chemicals in this process to avoid damaging the pipes.
Relining the Pipes
For cracked or broken pipes, plumbers can also insert a new “sleeve” which is a pipe that slides inside the existing section of pipe. This can help reduce the amount of digging or demolition of your house structure.
Preventing Blocked Sewer Lines
Staggs Plumbing offer a maintenance solution where we come over on a regular basis and clean out the sewage pipes to minimize the risk of clogs. This is useful if you do a lot of cooking and send a lot of food or grease down the garbage disposal unit.
Some other tips we can recommend to help reduce the chance of blocked or slow running drains:
- Run hot water down the sink along with some soap or dish washing liquid for several seconds. However, make sure when you run your garbage disposal unit, you only use cold water to prevent the unit from overheating.
- Once a week, pull out the plungers on your sinks and remove any accumulated hair or soap scum.
- Remove hair from the drain in your shower or bathtub. You can purchase a very inexpensive plastic tool that slides into the drain and pulls hair out. See your local home improvement store.
- Once a month, run some ice through your garbage disposal unit, along with some table salt, flushing it with cold water and a piece of lemon to help reduce any nasty odors.
- Buy a mesh screen to go over your shower and bathtub drains to collect hair before it goes down the drain.
- If you have pets that you wash, try to do it outside if possible to reduce the chance of fur and fluff in the tub drain.
- Mention proper use of the toilets to your kids. This is not a swim test for Barbie or GI Joe!
- Also buy a plunger from your local home improvement store to assist with the occasional toilet backup. However, if you have to use it on a frequent basis, there’s probably another plumbing issue that we need to loot at.
Don’t put These Items Down your Drains
- Grease or cooking fats
- Bottle caps
- Coffee grinds
- Thick bread
- Cat litter
- Motor oil
- Dental floss
- Band aids
- Paint or other solvents – they can really do a number on the pipes!
- Small toys
If you have questions or think you may have a backed up or stopped up sewer line, call the experts at Staggs Plumbing as soon as you can.