Your home sewer line connects your home's sewage system to the city's sewer line, and is your responsibility as a homeowner. The cost to replace a collapsed or broken sewer line can be over $5,000 and the work can destroy your yard's landscaping. But, if your home's sewer line is in need of replacement, you may not need to repair it right away. Here are some tips to help maintain your sewer line to keep it in working order to buy you some time while you budget and save up for this necessary expense.
You Don't Need to Remove Your Yard Trees
If your home's landscaping includes trees in your yard, the chances of tree roots causing additional damage to your home's sewer line increase. But, removing the trees may not prevent any sewer main damage as the tree's roots may have already begun to invade the cracking sewer line. Most older types of sewer lines were made from materials such as clay, bitumen tar, and cast iron, and were not built to last more than fifty years. So, as your home's sewer line ages, it corrodes, collapses, or breaks apart, allowing tree roots to disrupt its waste-flowing capabilities.
Unless the trees in your yard are causing other types of damage, such as to your home's foundation or your driveway paving, you can leave them in place and have regular maintenance performed to keep your home's sewer line free of tree roots.
Watch For Signs of a Clogged Sewer Main
The first step you can take to keep your sewer pipes in working condition is to watch your home's plumbing for any signs of clogging in the main sewer line. A clog in your home's main sewer will cause all your home's drains to flow slowly and can cause the lowest drain in your home to backup with sewage. The lowest drain is often the basement floor drain in your laundry room, or a basement bathtub or shower drain.
Conversely, when you have a clogged drain in only one drain of your home, such as a bathroom toilet or shower, is not a sign that you have a clogged sewer main, but a clog in only one specific area of your home's plumbing. These types of clogs can be remedied with a plunger or a plumber's snake.
Clean Out and Prevent Tree Roots Clogs
When you see signs of a clog in your sewer main, you can hire a professional plumber to use a power auger to clean out any debris and tree roots clogging the line. Once the tree roots are removed, the sewage will be able to flow freely from your home again and all your drains should work properly.
Once you have removed the roots, you should regularly use a chemical to prevent the roots from regrowing. You can pour a root-killing foam into one of your toilet's, containing metam-sodium and dichlobenil. This will cling to the inside of your pipes, killing tree roots within a few hours. Then, over the next few weeks the tree roots will wash away leaving the sewer line clear. You will need to repeat this process periodically as the tree roots grow back into your sewer line.
You can also flush copper sulfate down your toilet to kill any tree roots invading your sewer line. The Indianapolis Department of Public Works recommends maintaining your sewer line using this method twice a year; in the spring and in the fall. First, pour two pounds of medium-sized copper sulfate into one of your home's toilets in one-half cup increments, flushing the toilet after each scoopful. Leave the last one-half cup of copper sulfate in the toilet bowl overnight, then flush it down in the morning. This treatment completed twice a year will keep invading tree roots from growing in and clogging your sewer line.
Consult With a Professional Plumber
Keep in mind maintaining your sewer lines using these tips does not repair any current sewer line damage, but will be a temporary fix until you can look into sewer line replacement at a later time down the road.
You can hire a plumbing professional like Bishop Plumbing, Heating and Cooling to inspect your sewer line with a camera, which can cost anywhere from $250 to $350. This will reveal the true condition of your sewer line to find out if it has collapsed at all and how far along the pipe's deterioration has gone. Then, you can plan for and budget for a full sewer line replacement for a future time.