How to Unblock a Sewer Pipe

It’s tough when a bathtub, sink drain or toilet clogs. However, even bigger trouble is when the sewer pipe gets blocked. Why is that the case? Well, a sewer obstruction affects all the plumbing fixtures in your house – and that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is finding sewage backing out of your drains.

Now, unclogging your sewer is something you definitely don’t want to do. That is why there are professionals who specialize in unblocking sewer pipes. However, there are cases when the clog is still manageable enough for you to unclog it on your own. But if you don’t know how to unblock a sewer pipe on your own, here’s a quick guide for you.

1: Understand Why Sewers Clog

The typical diameter of a sewer line is about six inches or more. That said, it takes a whole lot to clog them, be it the buildup of paper or loose debris. Most of the time, however, a clog in the sewer is the result of tree roots growing into the pipes. Why does that happen? Well, roots are drawn to the warmth and moisture of the sewer and then feed on the nutrients available.

As debris begins to collect on the roots, the flow of water will be blocked. As such, obstruction builds up faster and water flow slows down which makes it a lot easier for debris to settle.

2: Determine The Problem

A clogged sewer means your drains will run very slowly no matter how much you clear them. Another clear sign of a problem is hearing gurgling sounds from the waste pipes as you flush the toilet. What you can do is make an assessment of what is causing the issue: is it a blocked vent or something else?

Once you’ve pinpointed a clogged sewer pipe as the real issue, then it’s time to take action.

3: Choose a Cleaning Method

You can opt for a mechanical method or a chemical one. Here’s details on how to use each:

Using a Mechanical Cleaning Method 
There are a variety of tools to be used when clearing a sewer blockage, and one of these is the auger. It’s a tool that looks like a traditional sink or toilet auger but it is longer and is assisted by power. You insert this tool into the main sewer line and keep cranking until you feel it get all the way through. It will take several attempts before you can fully clear the sewer pipe when using this tool.

Using a Chemical Cleaning Method 
Sewer pipes are different from smaller drains in that you can’t just dump chemicals in there and hope everything clears up. However, when tree roots are the issue then you may have to drop chemicals in order to control them. One of the most recommended chemical solutions is copper sulphate as it can kill tree roots but you might have to do this frequently as it quickly washes away.

However, copper sulphate may not be allowed in every state so you have to check first. An alternative is available as well: use a root-killing foam containing metam-sodium and dichlobenil. It kills roots within hours but takes weeks or months to wash away.

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