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How to avoid a costly sewer line repair

Two sewer line pipes are exposed in an excavated patch of ground

Several items can wreak havoc on your sewer line, causing smells, clogs, or something much worse –sewer line damage. Walk with us as we go over what can impact your sewer line, signs of disruption, and ways to keep your home’s sewer line healthy.

Pro Tip: If you have an owner’s manual and/or blueprints, let them be your sidekick as you get to know your sewer line. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your city’s Public Works Department for more information.

What can cause a main sewer line clog?

There are quite a few items that can cause a clog or damage to your sewer line, with the ones below being some of the most common culprits.


  • Grease
  • Hair
  • “Flushable wipes”

As the saying goes, “Never flush grease down the drain.” It may be a quick fix in the moment, but over time, the grease hardens, forming a large block (much like a heart). Grease can also expand when it gets warmer, which can make repairs more complicated and expensive! 

Hair and “flushable wipes” are also things you may think your pipes can easily handle, but too much of these can also create a blockade in your sewer line system. Aside from water, small amounts of toilet paper, and human waste, your sewer line can work better and for longer when these other items are sent to the trash. 


Rain collects in a dip in the sidewalk in front of a patch of grass



  • Heavy rain
  • Storm debris
  • Tree roots
  • Shifting Soil
  • Extra weight on the sewer line system
  • Age

Though a heavy rain is enough to stop healthy flow by filling your sewer line with too much water, it can also bring all types of loose debris that can prevent normal flow. Likewise, if the soil shifts around your sewer line system, it can push tree roots into the pipes, where they begin to take up precious space in the center of the pipe, eventually preventing anything else from flowing through. 

If big vehicles, campers, etc., on your lawn are putting too much weight on the sewer line system underneath, you could begin to notice some of the signs of a problem listed in the next section. 

Sewer lines typically last about 50-100 years. If you’re in a home whose sewer lines are getting up in age, consider adding a line item to save up for a new system to your budget.

What can help you avoid a sewer line replacement?

Now that we’ve covered what can get in the way of healthy pipes, let’s go over what to look out for when your system may be in need of some assistance.

  • Awful smells (Think sewage or rotting eggs)
  • Slow draining or flushing, especially with multiple drains and/or toilets
  • Bubbling sounds when you use drains and/or toilets 
  • A jump in your water bill
  • Patches of your lawn that are greener/soggier than other

Pro Tip: The more direct signs you notice, the more urgent your situation may be. Don’t procrastinate!


A white hand plunges brown water in a white bathroom sink mounted to a light blue-tiled wall



How do you preserve your sewer line system? With the right information, of course! Follow the best practices below, and if you feel it may be time for a repair, call in the pros!

  • Don’t put anything down your drains that isn’t water, human waste, or small amount of toilet paper.
  • Find out if your sewer line system has backwater prevention valves, and have them added by a professional, as needed. 
  • Have your system cleaned every other year to prevent any debris from accumulating. 
  • Do a monthly flush: While empty, enlist the help of others to fill all the sinks, tubs, and the washing machine with *cold* water, then drain everything at the same time (Flush your toilets, too!). This prompts any gunk out of your system, as well as helps you know if anything isn’t draining like the others., which may be a sign of a clogged section of your pipes. 

Now, you’re ready to keep things flowing!

Which steps were you already taking to keep your sewer lines clog-free ? Tell us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram!