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The Warning Signs of a Main Sewer Line Blockage

Your sewer line is one of the most vital parts of your household plumbing – and if it becomes damaged or clogged, it could wreak unwelcome issues on your property. Offset or damaged pipes could cost a lot to repair or replace. The sooner you detect a sewer line breakage or clog, the more likely it is you'll be able to fix it without a huge hassle or cost. Damage tends to worsen over time.

Watch out for these warning signs that your sewer line might be blocked:


When you have a sewer line problem, your sinks, toilets and even bathtub may drain slowly or not at all. Multiple fixtures may be affected by this problem. For instance, if you run the washing machine and the toilet overflows or the laundry room sink backs up, that's a definite sign of a blockage somewhere in the drainpipes – after all, the water has to go somewhere.

In addition, if you hear gurgling sounds when you flush that could be a sign of a blockage in the drain system. In fact, these noises may be an indication that tree roots are to blame for your blockage; root systems are one of the biggest culprits of main sewer line issues. So if you have a large tree near your sewer line, its roots could be the problem. This is particularly true if you have an older sewer made of clay or concrete because roots can work their way inside the pipe via the pipe joints. Tiny feeder roots find their way inside seeking moisture. Once inside, they will grow larger, acting like a net to catch toilet paper and waste until a clog forms.


If it seems you’re experiencing more toilet clogs than you used to, that’s an indication that the real clog problem might be farther downstream in your drainage system. The same is true with your kitchen sink. Is it clogging or running slowly more often than it used to? The fact is that if you have more than one slow drain in your house, or multiple slow drains, that’s the best indicator that the source of the problem is a clogged sewer.


  • The sewer line is the largest drain in your home and is susceptible to a number of problems. The most common problems to affect a sewer line include the following:
  • Tree roots - If roots have infiltrated your sewer line, they can quickly damage the line and cause further damage in no time.
  • Broken, collapsed, cracked, or misaligned pipes - These are commonly due to shifting soil or frozen ground.
  • Blockage - This can result when grease or some other object is restricting proper water flow.
  • Pipe corrosion or deterioration - If your pipe is older or is made of anything other than PVC piping, then you are likely at risk of having your pipes deteriorate, which can cause collapses in the line and a restriction of proper flow.
  • Bellied pipe - This is when a section of the pipe has sunk into the ground, creating an area for waste to converge.
  • Leaking joints - If the seals between the pipes have broken, then water can escape into the area surrounding the pipe."


There are various other problems that can also affect a typical sewer line, which is why it is important to remain alert and proactive about checking for signs of blockage. To prevent future problems from occurring, make sure to have your septic tank inspected at least every three to five years. This will allow an experienced Roto-Rooter expert to carefully inspect your septic system for signs of breaks or cracks. Typically, this allows us to correct the problem with a small repair service and can help to prevent costly replacements.

Simply cleaning out the sewer line, or completing spot repairs, can usually take care of the problem. However, if the problem is too far along, then your technician may need to recommend a costly replacement. They will likely complete a camera inspection to detect the source of the problem and can then advise you of your service options.


In some cases, it is more affordable to simply replace the sewer line, rather than trying to repair it. If your pipes are made of inferior materials, they are more susceptible to leaks, damage, and root intrusion. This can lead to severe problems in the future, which will cost more than the original replacement would have. A Roto-Rooter plumbing expert can discuss the options with you so that you can choose what is right for your needs and budget.


A backed-up sewer can do a real number on your home. Spring and summer downpours can overwhelm your home's sewer system and sump pump. The next thing you know, you're looking at raw sewage pooling around in your drains, toilets, tubs and basement. Before your floors, walls, furniture and carpeting become severely damaged, contact your local Roto-Rooter professional for immediate assistance.
Here are three common causes of sewer backups:


Roots are the primary cause of a clogged sewer line - especially in older homes. Drains located underground start to crack because as these heavy tree roots start to grow, they wrap around the sewer line and crush the pipes. Slow-flowing drains and gurgling noises arising from your toilets are clear warning signs that tree roots are striking your sewer system. Take action against tree roots by killing them before they spread to your pipes.


Main sewer lines can become clogged just as easily as typical drain pipes. To separate these two types of backups, keep track of what seems to be presenting an issue. If only one toilet is giving you problems, you might just be dealing with a clogged drain. But if you notice a sewage backup every time you flush your toilet, you're most likely dealing with a blockage in your main sewer line.
To prevent this in the future, don't treat your toilet like a garbage can. Avoid flushing napkins, diapers and feminine hygiene products. As for your garbage disposal, avoid pouring grease and fat down the drain, as well as large quantities of food - highly fibrous food in particular.


The origin of a sewer system backup could be from a broken, cracked or collapsed line. This is especially true for older homes, seeing as pipes were typically made from cast iron and clay. These materials deteriorate over time, which causes corrosion that will eventually eat away at the pipes.

At the first sign of any sewage backup, be sure to call your local Roto-Rooter expert for professional assistance.


A sewer clog cannot be treated with a plunger or with over-the-counter chemicals. To clear the sewer line of roots and debris, a professional cleaning is required with a heavy-duty Roto-Rooter machine. These electric drain and sewer cleaning machines have a strong, stiff steel cable with a sharp blade on its tip. The cable spins as it travels through the sewer pipe so it cuts away obstructions. It will even shave roots right down to the pipe walls to restore full flow in your sewer pipe. If the Roto-Rooter machine can’t get through the pipe, your service technician can request a video camera inspection of the sewer pipeline to ascertain where the blockage is and its cause. A trained eye will then be able to recommend repair options to the homeowner.

When the evidence suggests that your main sewer line is clogged, you should get in touch with a plumbing professional who can sort it out for you. Call Roto-Rooter today for more information.



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