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Top 13 Reasons You’ve Got A Blocked Sewer Line That Will Flood Your Home



House Plumbing DiagramHouse plumbing diagram



1 Collapsed sewer line
A blocked sewer may be as a result of a sewage line's main collapse due to age and perhaps caused by roots in sewer line, soil movement, or structural settling. A sheared or broken line is discovered when mud is being removed or when the rodding machine cannot go any further in the sewage line. The next step is to insert a sewer inspection camera to find the location and the cause of the problem. Either a repair or a replacement of the blocked sewer pipe is commonly done.

Collapsed Sewer PipePartially and fully collapsed sewer pipe


Related article: Trenchless Sewer Repair - The Future Is Here


2 Mud
Mud enters the sewage line from the driveway to area drains and yard waste and enters drain lines from gutters. Bio waste or mud will not decompose like sewage, resulting in debris accumulation and a blocked sewer line. To prevent clogged lines regular cleaning of driveway drains and gutters and occasional rodding is required.

3 Narrow drain lines
Some older drain lines less than 4 inches in diameter with a 90° bend will occasionally become blocked. Today’s waste fittings perform better and some older lines need to be refitted.


4 Root infestation
Roots are by far the most common source of a blocked sewer line. Roots in sewer line is a recurring problem that can be temporarily eliminated by rodding, jetting and the use of chemicals. The permanent solution is to remove the offending tree and/or install a new line. Once root infestation has started to pierce the sewer line, it will continue to destroy the structural integrity causing a collapse, necessitating trenching and excavation and replacement of the pipe.

Related article: Roots in Sewer Line - How To Get Rid Of Them


5 Food
Lack of knowledge of types of food matter that can pass through a food grinder and it’s proper operation leads to a blocked sewer line. Always run cold water for at least 2 min. after grinding food to make sure it gets past and through the drain line. Grind food in small bunches giving the water a chance to wash the waste down the line. Do not attempt to grind fibrous foods such as banana peels, onion peel, corn husks, artichoke leaves and celery for instance.


Grease in Sewer PipeGrease in sewer pipe

6 Grease
Grease blockages occur in sanitary and waste lines from the kitchen sink, garbage disposer, and dishwasher. When rodding a sewer line with grease in it and the line opens up there is an assumption that the job is complete. However, the grease left behind will settle and the line will still be blocked. Grease clogs can be reduced by occasional rodding or water jetting and a chemical treatment formulated for grease removal.


7 Equipment malfunction
During rodding operations occasionally the rodding line will ensnare or break in the blocked sewer. Unforeseen blockages may cause the rodding line cable to break and remain lodged in the pipe. Special retrieving equipment can remove the cable however if it is stuck or broken and cannot be retrieved or freed from the pipe, then trenching and excavation is required to retrieve and repair the line.



Replacing Sagging PipesReplacing sagging pipes

8 Sagging pipes
Wherever underground soil freezes and thaws it moves and sags the pipes. If water rests in a sagging line caused by freezing and accumulated debris, then the pipe will get blocked. Sewer rodding will remove the blockage but will only be a temporary solution. Digging and replacement of the sagging sewer line is a permanent solution.

9 Frozen ground
When the water in ground soil freezes it expands and moves the ground upward. As the ground thaws, it settles the soil downward. This soil movement creates cracks in the pipe, leading to leaking more water into the ground creating more soil movement and ultimately letting in mud and creating a blocked sewer line. Rodding may temporarily clear the line.


Broken Sewer PipeBroken sewer pipe

10 Broken line
A broken sewer line will accumulate waste until it clogs the line. Difficult to determine during the rodding procedure, the sewer line will likely get blocked again and will require a full replacement.

11 Disposal of improper waste
Sanitary sewage lines are specifically and exclusively designed to accept human waste and toilet paper. Do not flush these items down your drain: condoms,  baby wipes, diapers, paper towels, Q-tips, dental floss and of course, feminine sanitary products.



Backwater Valve InstallationBackwater valve helps prevent basement flood

12 Backflow preventers
Malfunctioning backflow preventers can cause a blocked sewer line and need regular maintenance and or repair and replacement.


13 Municipality owned blocked sewer lines
A city's blocked sewer system may backup and prevent the home sewage line from draining. During heavy storm water activity, debris accumulates in the pipes floating upwards to the home line. The debris left behind starts the accumulation of more debris in the home from draining the sewage pipe. In rare cases the storm water from the municipal drain backups and floods the home's basement. One way to prevent flooding a basement with city sewage water is to install a backwater valve.


Basement FloodCombined Sewer Backup Causes Basement Flood:

During periods of heavy rainfall, or snowmelt the municipal sewage system becomes overloaded and the surcharge backs up and floods basements through low plumbing connections. The backed up sewage may contain many harmful bacteria and other contaminants so it is crucial to quickly and properly clean up the area after the flooding has subsided.

Remember a blocked sewer line is symptomatic of any one the 13 reasons you’ve got a clogged sewer - we hope we’ve helped you find what you're looking for.


Ever Wonder How a Sewer System Works?  


How a Sewer System WorksSewage system diagram


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