The Rules of Basic Sewer Maintenance

Written by Tom Elliott. Posted in Rakeman Blog

Your home’s sewer plays a critical role in your life. By carrying away wastewater, the sewer is the part of your property that makes all clothes washing, dish washing, hand-washing and toilet flushing possible. Because it is such a critical part of your home, it’s important to keep your sewer functioning properly. These tips will help you maintain your sewer and keep your household running smoothly.

Keep Tree Roots Out

When they’re thirsty, tree roots will invade sewer lines in search of moisture. You can prevent tree roots from invading your sewers by keeping trees away from the sewer lines, keeping “thirsty” trees off your property and by taking care of your trees. These tips will help:

  • Avoid planting fast growing and “thirsty” trees near your sewer lines. These trees include willows, cottonwood, silver maple and sycamore.
  • Find out the location of your home’s sewer line before planting a tree. You can do this by contacting your local public works department for the lateral location or call Rakeman Plumbing to use a sewer camera to locate the sewer.
  • Keep your trees appropriately watered (especially in times of drought) to prevent the roots from growing long distances in search of water.
  • Talk to an arborist when trying to decide where to plant trees to find out how big you can expect the roots of your tree to grow.

These tips make it easier to keep tree roots out of your sewer. With proper maintenance, you won’t need to spend huge sums of money to remove problematic roots.

Know What Not to Flush

Flushing the wrong items down into your sewer can result in sewer clogs and backups. People often flush unsafe items into their sewers and drains. Some common prohibited items that people flush down into the sewers include:

  • Cat litter. Cat litter naturally clumps, which can lead to sewer clogs.
  • Diapers. Like tampons, diapers expand when they absorb liquid. Even if one makes it through the drain, a diaper still likely to clog the sewer.
  • Oil. Cooking oil can congeal in pipes and sewer lines, creating giant clogs called “fatbergs.”
  • Tampons. Tampons are tough, absorbent and expandable, which makes them problematic in the sewers.
  • Wipes. Wipes can build up in your sewer over time, creating big problems over a course of many years.

Even products that are marketed as “flushable” may not actually be safe to flush down the toilet. The only things that you can flush down the toilet safely are toilet paper, human waste and water.

Prevent Sewer Gas Intrusion

Sometimes sewer gas can make its way into homes. Many homeowners assume that this is caused by a sewer clog, but typically this happens for much less troublesome reasons.

Your home’s drains are a direct line to the sewers, which means sewer gas could easily rise from below and enter your home. In many households, the only thing that prevents this from happening is the water sitting in the curvy part of your home’s drains (known as the P-trap). This water forms an airtight seal that prevents your home from filling with the smell of sewer gas.

To prevent sewer gas from making its way into your home, you must keep replenishing the supply of water that sits in your home’s drains. This is easy to do, provided that you use your drains on a regular basis. Every time you run water into a drain, the P-trap is replenished.

In bathrooms and drains that aren’t used often, the water may evaporate, causing the home to fill with sewer gas. The best way to prevent this from happening is by filling the drains with water on a regular basis. By running the water in your sink or by flushing your toilet regularly, you can prevent sewer gas from entering your home.

Watch for Warning Signs of Sewer Backup

The signs of a sewer backup can help you determine when your sewer is in distress. Sewer backups can cause your home’s pipes and plumbing to do strange things. When your home’s sewer is backing up, you’ll notice symptoms such as:

  • Slow drains in the house (shower, bathtub and floor drains) all get slow at once.
  • Pipes start to make strange gargling and burping noises when the pipes drain.
  • Water from one fixture drains into another fixture (example: water from the washing machine backs up into the bathtub).

If you notice any of these symptoms in your home’s plumbing, a sewer clog may be forming. These symptoms may come on slowly at first, so keep an eye out for subtle changes in your home’s plumbing.

Get an Inspection When It’s Needed

If your home is displaying symptoms of a sewer backup, get your sewer inspected by a professional.

For more information about how you can protect your home’s sewers, contact Rakeman Plumbing today. We can answer your sewer-related questions and help make sure your home’s plumbing is in good condition.

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  • 4075 Losee Rd
  • North Las Vegas, NV 89030
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