Each time you wash your hands, take a shower, flush the toilet, do your dishes, or run your garbage disposal you put your sewer system to work. With so many daily and sometimes hourly activities that put your sewer lines and septic tank system to work at your home is important to know that even a small clog or blockage can cause problems for this engineered waste system.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that they have a sewer line issue before it’s too late and causing a clear problem. Over time, especially if ignored, these sewer line issues can degrade, crack, collapse, or become blocked. Here are some helpful tips to aid in the prevention of sewer line backups. Of course, you can always inspect your home waste lines with a sewer camera but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound a cure.
Know what you put down your drains.
- Abstain from putting foods down the drain that contain: grease, cooking oils chunks of or stringy vegetables. More ‘no no’s for your kitchen sink drain are coffee grounds and egg shells as they are slow to move in the drain and tend to not only remain stagnant but also catch other waste particles. If you have any concerns about whether a waste material would cause an issue in your sink drains, don’t risk it. Throw food remnants and all other greasy waste in the trash can—not down your drain. And yes, this even includes grease that is hot when you pour it down the drain.
- Your paintbrushes should not be cleaned in your sink as well. The chemicals in paint retard the natural decomposing process in your septic tank.
- Of course, no motor oils or other synthetic lubricants should be poured or disposed of in your sink or home waste streams.
- Another concern is if you or your family members have long or coarse hair. We all naturally lose some hair when we wash but longer hair has the propensity to tangle up inside the drain. Make sure that your shower drains offer a screen to catch hair before it’s introduced down the drain.
To keep your toilet bowl happy, toilet paper and human waste should be the only items flushed down.
- Paper towels, Q-tips, feminine products, baby diapers, and those so-called flushable wipes should never be flushed down a toilet because they don’t break down as toilet paper and human waste do.
- Of course, toilet bowls are large enough for you to pour your last bit of paint that you don’t need, but this is a huge ‘no’ for your sewer lines.
- Another common concern is that many homeowners that have indoor cats have gotten into the habit of putting waste from the litter box in the toilet. Although this may be convenient, this practice could cause problems, especially with ‘clumping cat litter’ or litter that is produced with natural clay. These products are designed to stick and clump together and this can create issues with your wastewater pipes.
If your home is older than 35 years, you may consider replacing clay or metal sewer lines.
- It’s very common for tree roots to compromise sewer lines, especially at joints and collars. This is much more common with older homes that have clay or cast-iron pipes. Most homes built in the 1990s or later will offer plastic or PVC piping. This piping is designed to be much more resistant to rot and root migration.
- If you are building a new home at this present time this is not a concern as only PVC piping will be used.
Install a Backwater Prevention Valve
- This fixture is installed into a sewer line in the basement of your home to prevent backups—it lets sewage leave the home, but doesn’t allow it to come back in.
- A backwater valve (sometimes called a backflow or sewer backup valve) is a valve you can install on your sewer line and is designed to allow water or sewage to flow only one way—out of your house. Sudden heavy rainfall can overwhelm sewer lines, causing wastewater or sewage to flow back toward your home. A backwater valve prevents sewage from flowing backward into your house during such events.
Check your septic tank lines for wet spots.
- If it hasn’t rained recently but you notice that your yard near the septic is soft and muddy, this could indicate you have a leak in your wastewater line.
- To keep things flowing as designed, a backwater valve is your best bet. During heavy rainfall, or if your home is located in a low point or a floodplain, a backwater valve will keep sewage in the sewer system where it belongs and prevent pools of wastewater from entering your home.
What to do if you suspect a problem:
- If you find that you have saturated ground surrounding your septic tank or septic field lines you should contact a plumbing professional. They will use a plumbing camera snake to inspect your waste lines.
- If the problem is isolated to a kitchen sink or bathroom sink, you should still contact a plumbing professional. They will still most likely use an inspection camera to view the waste lines but this small sewer camera will allow the plumber to navigate the bends in the P and S traps.
If you have any questions about which inspection camera would work best for your application, please feel free to reach out to one of our trained specialists.