Minor clogs that affect a single drain are a common plumbing nuisance and are typically relatively easy to fix. Particularly common in the drains of showers and kitchen sinks, these clogs are often caused by a buildup of hair, food washed down the drain or other debris. For minor clogs, a simple toilet plunger may be all you need to clear the clog – seal the plunger over the drain opening, then move the plunger up and down rapidly several times. You may have to repeat this motion a few times for the drain to clear.

Chemical drain cleaners are available in most household stores and can be used to clear tough-to-reach clogs by following the instructions on the bottle. Depending on the type of plumbing system and local ordinances, it may be advisable to perform a chemical drain cleaning once or twice a year to prevent buildup. Unfortunately, commercial drain cleaners are often ineffective in clearing drains and restoring flow.

Identifying a Main Sewer Line Clog

Simple, do-it-yourself home remedies may be enough to deal with minor clogs affecting only a single drain but won’t help you if the problem is a clogged sewer line. The sewer line is the large main pipe that collects water from all your toilets and drains and removes it from your home. Some common signs of a main sewer line clog include:

  • Multiple drains affected
  • A loud gurgling in pipes
  • Wastewater backing up into the home
  • Small pieces of tree root visible in backed-up water

While you may be able to fix the problem without help, a main sewer line clog is a much larger problem than a simple drain clog or backed-up toilet and requires a different approach. Calling a qualified, professional plumber is usually needed to resolve sewer line clogs.

How to Clear a Main Line Blockage

If the clog is in the main sewer line, rather than a single isolated location, chemical cleaners and the plunging method won’t resolve the problem. The first step is to locate the main sewer line. It will generally be outside the home in a relatively easy-to-reach location, often with a Y-shaped access port. Note that depending on the location and severity of the clog, pressure may have built up inside the pipe, so when removing the access cover, be sure to stand clear of the opening and position a bucket to catch any sewage released.

To unclog a drain pipe to sewer, a snake or auger tool, whether automatic or manual, should be used. Carefully feed the tool into the pipe until you reach the obstruction. Depending on the tool you are using, you may need to then employ a twisting motion and then move the tool forwards and backward several times before pulling it back out. The obstruction should come out with the tool.

When to Call in the Professionals

If your main sewer line is clogged, and the above method fails to restore drain flow, it’s time to get a professional plumber out to your home. They may use one of the following methods to clear the blockage: Industrial Auger. Just like the

  • Industrial Auger – .Just like the augers, you can buy in home improvement stores, this tool is much longer and more powerful, and may be attached to a truck.High-Pressure Hose. Upwards of 4000 psi can remove even the most stubborn clogs.
  • High-Pressure Hose – Upwards of 4000 psi can remove even the most stubborn clogs.
  • Chemicals for Tree Roots – Caustic chemicals aren’t much use for a main sewer line blockage, but if the clog is the result of tree roots working their way into the pipes, then a chemical foam may be used to kill and flush out roots.
  • Replacing Sections of Pipe –Especially when tree roots are involved, or sewer pipes are extremely old, replacing a section of the main sewer line may be the only effective, long-term solution.

If your main sewer line is clogged and you don’t know what to do, our friendly, professional team at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Cedar Rapids are here to help.