Maintaining your sewer line is just as crucial as keeping your sewer system in top shape. This is because a functional sewer line ensures the smooth flow of wastewater away from your property, preventing backups and potential health hazards.

But is it really a problem for homeowners?

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), nearly half of all homeowners reported experiencing a plumbing issue in the past year. And sewer line clogs are a significant portion of these problems. While some homeowners might be tempted to unclog sewer line blockages themselves, there are hidden dangers and pitfalls to the DIY approach.

In addition, there are common mistakes DIY enthusiasts make when dealing with sewer line clogs and seeking professional help is often the wiser course of action.


Understanding Sewer Line Clogs

Sewer line clogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Grease buildup:Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) solidify when they cool down inside the pipes, gradually forming a blockage that traps other debris.
  • Foreign objects:Flushing items like paper towels, feminine hygiene products, or even flushable wipes can cause clogs, especially if they don’t break down easily.
  • Tree root intrusion:Tree roots are naturally attracted to moisture and can burrow into sewer lines, creating cracks and blockages.
  • Broken or damaged pipes:Over time, sewer lines can crack, collapse, or misalign due to age, shifting soil, or improper installation.

Clogged sewer lines can lead to a series of unpleasant issues in both residential and commercial properties. These include slow drainage that show up as drains throughout your house starting to drain slowly and taking a longer time to empty sinks, tubs, and showers. Then there can be sewer backups. In severe cases, wastewater can back up into your drains, overflowing toilets and potentially spilling onto floors.

And, perhaps even more unsettling, it can create foul odors. This is due to blockages that trap organic matter, leading to the development of unpleasant sewer gases that can seep back into your home.

Common Mistakes by DIY Enthusiasts

While the Internet offers a wealth of DIY sewer repair solutions, there are significant drawbacks to tackling these issues without professional help. Here are some frequent mistakes homeowners make:

1. Ignoring the Need for Professional Inspection

A crucial first step before attempting any DIY sewer blockage solutions should be a professional inspection by a licensed sewer and drain technician. Sewer line problems can be complex, and misdiagnosing the source of the clog can lead to drain cleaning mistakes wasted time, money, and potentially worsen the situation.

2. Over Reliance on Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners may seem like a quick fix, but they come with a host of dangers. The harsh chemical cleaners for sewer lines can damage your pipes, causing leaks and corrosion over time. Homeowners should also be aware that these chemicals can contaminate septic systems and local waterways.

3. Using Inappropriate Tools

There are specific tools designed for sewer line cleaning. Using a plunger on a sewer line clog is unlikely to be effective. Improper use of tools like drain snakes can also cause damage to pipes. A professional sewer and drain technician will have the right equipment and expertise to tackle the clog efficiently and safely.

4. Lack of Protective Gear

Sewer lines carry wastewater, which can harbor harmful bacteria and pathogens. When working on sewer lines, there’s a risk of exposure to raw sewage, so proper protection is essential. This includes wearing gloves, eye protection, and a respirator to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

5. Improper Use of a Sewer Snake

Sewer snakes, also known as auger cables, can be useful tools for clearing clogs when used correctly. However, DIYers often make mistakes like pushing the cable too forcefully, which can damage the pipes or even cause the cable to snap and get lodged deeper in the clog.

Here are some tips for using a sewer snake properly:

  • Feed the cable slowly and steadily, allowing it to work its way through the clog.
  • Don’t force the cable if it meets resistance.
  • If the clog doesn’t clear after a few attempts, it’s best to call a professional.

6. Neglecting Root Intrusions

Tree roots are a common cause of sewer line clogs as a result of root intrusion in sewer lines. DIY solutions like pouring boiling water or root-killing chemicals down the drain may offer temporary relief but are unlikely to address the root cause. Professional sewer and drain technicians have specialized tools and techniques to remove root blockages and prevent them from recurring.

7. Failing to Perform Regular Maintenance

The best way to avoid sewer line blockages altogether and practice sewer line damage prevention is through preventive maintenance. Here are some DIY sewer maintenance tips you can follow:

  • Avoid pouring grease or fats down the drain:Instead, let them cool and solidify, then discard them in the trash.
  • Don’t flush anything other than toilet paper and human waste:This includes wipes labeled “flushable” as they can contribute to clogs. Wipes, despite their labeling, are often made from synthetic materials that don’t break down as readily as toilet paper.
  • Install a drain trap in your kitchen sink:This small device catches food scraps and other debris before they enter the sewer line.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda and vinegar down your drains once a month:This natural cleaning solution can help break down mild clogs and deodorize your pipes.

However, it’s important to remember that these DIY maintenance tips are preventative measures and shouldn’t replace professional sewer line cleaning every few years. A professional cleaning can remove any built-up debris before it causes a major clog.

By understanding the dangers of DIY sewer line repairs and implementing these preventive measures, you can keep your sewer line functioning smoothly and avoid costly emergencies.


Professional Solutions vs. DIY Efforts

While there are some preventative maintenance tasks you can do yourself, there are times when calling in a professional sewer and drain technician is the best course of action. And this option can be far more cost-effective, as well.

While the exact cost can vary depending on location and severity, according to Forbes,

“The national average cost to snake a drain professionally is about $250. For easy clogs, you can expect to pay as little as $100, but for complex clogs, the cost can escalate to $360 or more.”

In contrast, attempting a DIY fix with a store-bought drain snake might cost around $50, but if it doesn’t work and damages the pipes, the repair bill from a sewer and drain technician can be significantly higher.

Here are some signs that your sewer line clog requires expert help:

  • Frequent backups:If your drains are backing up regularly, it’s a strong indicator of a clog deeper in the sewer line that requires professional tools and techniques to clear.
  • Slow drainage throughout the house:Slow drains in multiple fixtures suggest a clog in the main sewer line, beyond the reach of DIY methods.
  • Foul odors:Persistent sewer smells emanating from your drains signify a clog that needs professional attention.
  • Visible damage to pipes:If you notice cracks, leaks, or misalignment in your sewer pipes, leave the repairs to a licensed sewer and drain technician.

There are several benefits to opting for professional sewer line cleaning and maintenance. For example, sewer and drain technicians have the knowledge and experience to diagnose the problem accurately and implement the most effective solution.

Professionals also have access to specialized cameras, drain snakes, and other equipment to tackle complex clogs and repairs. And because working with sewer lines can be hazardous, sewer and drain technicians have the proper protective gear and training to handle the job safely.

Preventive Measures and Tips

Here are four practices you can incorporate to prevent sewer line clogs in the first place:

  1. Be mindful of what you flush:Only flush toilet paper and human waste. Avoid flushing anything else, including wipes labeled “flushable,” feminine hygiene products, coffee grounds, or grease.
  2. Minimize grease and oil poured down the drain:Let grease cool and solidify, then discard it in the trash. You can also wipe greasy pots and pans with paper towels before washing them.
  3. Install drain traps:A drain trap placed under your kitchen sink can catch food scraps and debris before they enter the sewer line.
  4. Regular cleaning:Pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down your drains once a month. This natural cleaning solution can help break down mild clogs and deodorize your pipes.

Why You Should Consider a Professional Service Provider for Sewer Line Clogs

While DIY solutions might seem appealing for minor clogs, attempting to tackle major sewer line issues yourself can lead to more problems than it solves. Improper techniques and tools can damage pipes, worsen clogs, and even pose health risks.

The potential risks and costs associated with DIY sewer line repairs far outweigh the benefits. By seeking professional help when needed and implementing these preventive measures, including routine sewer line inspections, you can ensure your sewer line functions smoothly for years to come. Remember, a licensed sewer and drain technician is your best bet for a swift, safe, and lasting solution to your sewer line issues.


NW Sewer and Drain – Your Professional Solution for Sewer Line Clogs


NW Sewer and Drain has served the Greater Seattle area with quality and reliability. We uphold all the qualities you should look for in sewer and drain specialists and we are proud to serve our customers. With our experienced team, innovative technology, and an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, we are ready to tackle any plumbing challenge, big or small.


Don’t let clogged drains disrupt your life—contact NW Sewer and Drain today and experience the peace of mind that comes with professional, efficient, and friendly service.



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