If you’re like most homeowners, you probably try to troubleshoot clogged drains on your own. But sometimes, a clogged sink, tub or basement floor drain is a sign of a much more serious problem: A faulty sewer line.

Signs of sewer line trouble

Usually, an obstruction in the sewer line will cause all the drains in your home to drain slowly. In extreme cases, sewage may back up through basement drains.

Tree roots commonly cause sewer line malfunction. Roots infiltrate the sewer pipe, and over time, as they catch and hold debris that moves through the sewer, the obstruction in the sewer line grows.

Homes at risk for sewer line problems

Sewage pipes in older homes may be only 3 inches in diameter, whereas many newly constructed homes have 4-inch sewage pipes. Larger-diameter pipes are less likely to clog. If you have 3-inch pipes, replacing the plumbing may be impractical, but scheduling annual cleaning for the main sewer line can keep your drains running smoothly.

Many older sewer lines are made of clay, which can crack or collapse over time. Once a break is discovered, it’s best to replace the entire sewer line between your home and the street, rather than just replace the broken section. You’ll pay more up front to replace the entire sewer, but the cost would be much more, if you repaired each section of pipe as it (inevitably) breaks. That’s because every sewer line replacement requires the use of heavy equipment, and essentially, an excavation of your yard.

Diagnosing and Treating Sewer Line Defects

Clearing a clogged sewer line is a job for professionals, for a few reasons.

  • CHEMICALS – First, to clear some clogs, the use of chemicals may be necessary. Professional sewer cleaning companies know how to handle those chemicals safely.


  • SPECIAL EQUIPMENT – Professionals also use special diagnostic equipment, such as sewer line cameras, to accurately determine the cause of the problem, whereas homeowners can only guess what might be wrong.


A broken or blocked sewer line can cause other problems, including moisture accumulation around your home’s foundation, so get professional help as soon as possible, when you suspect a sewer line defect.