It’s an unpleasant trio we dread: the sight, sound, and smell of a backed-up toilet. This can be caused from something as simple as a minor clog or it could be a sign of an impacted sewer line. If you are a homeowner this could be a major expense. For apartment dwellers or townhome residents sharing main lines, this could be repaired and paid for by the property management company. In the case of commercial buildings, it will depend on who owns the building. Either way, it is generally not something you want to be around for. And if you do have to foot the bill for a major sewer repair, it will likely be as scary a sight as the one that prompted you to make the call.
Sewer & Drain Preventative Maintenance
Single family homes do have more control over preventative maintenance of drain and sewer systems. After all, you probably don’t have to worry about a very large number of people putting who knows what down the drain. Yet as the adage goes, prevention is the best cure, and preventing a backup with proper maintenance is as important as other maintenance issues in your home.
Drain vs. Sewer Cleaning
There is a difference between drain and sewer cleaning. Drains are mainly in a home and are part of the system that carries wastewater to a sewer. Drains are not susceptible to obstructions like roots but are usually clogged by what goes down sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. These items can be fairly normal and still cause clogs and abnormal items are almost guaranteed to cause a problem. Simple rule: don’t flush something that isn’t designed to go down a toilet. Even a few strands of hair in the sink can cause clogs, something people can easily overlook. Keep drains clean by using a back-up remover once a month and for commercial buildings, have all drains professionally cleaned once a year.
Drain cleaning is a simple task compared to sewer cleaning, especially when it comes to commercial buildings. Sewer lines take wastewater from drains and sends it into the city sewer lines. These lines can be clogged from oil/grease, physical objects such as wipes, or tree roots looking for water and nutrients. While an obvious solution is to never plant trees near sewer lines, this isn’t always an option. Case in point, a townhome community surrounded by trees but the entire main line behind a building has to be replaced because roots have completely blocked the line and is causing backups in multiple units. Or a busy commercial building has a lot of people flushing a lot of items down the toilets causing a massive clog.
So, how often should your sewers be cleaned? To avoid a costly major repair, sewer lines should be preventatively cleaned every 18-22 months. If you are experiencing frequent plumbing issues, you might want to have the work performed more frequently. If you see sewage backups, smell odors, hear gurgling pipes, or water is backing up it is time to call a professional immediately. While these problems can arise very quickly, then generally occur gradually. By keeping sewer lines cleaned out, you can keep these problems from happening in the first place. Even if an issue seems minor, remember that it can turn into a major problem.