When the water in your home takes longer than it used to get down the drain, you know you may have a problem somewhere in your plumbing system. If your own normal drain cleaning process isn’t improving things over time, then you might be dealing with a blockage in the primary line or main pipe.
Clogged sewer lines typically require professional expertise and tools. However, there are a few basic troubleshooting things you can do on your own that can help you pinpoint the problem. Here are our tips for how to unclog a main sewer line and how to clear a pipe blockage.
What Are the Three Common Kinds of Clogs?
When water isn’t draining as quickly as it should, you may have a main sewer line clog. However, it could be something less serious. You might have one of three issues going on:
- Drain Clogs: These can usually be fixed with retail drain clog removers you buy at the store.
- Deep Clogs: Deeper clogs might need to be dealt with by a plumbing snake or auger. This is the borderline between DIY success and possibly needing a professional.
- Sewer Line Clogs: Getting down this deep likely requires professional assistance, but you can possibly try a sewer line cleanout to clear some of the blockages.
What Are the Signs of a Main Sewer Line Clog?
If your clog is in the main sewer line, then there are several clues that might tip you off:
- Water that is smelly or discolored
- Sinks and showers get backed up
- Your toilet drainage winds up in the tub or shower
Related: Are Flushable Wipes Really Flushable?
How to Unclog Main Sewer Lines?
Depending on your home’s plumbing system, you might be able to make some progress with a few DIY main drain cleaner tactics. The steps of how to unclog sewer line include:
1. Find Your Clean-Out Fitting
If your home has a sewer line clean-out fitting, then it’s a pipe that’s between 3 and 6 inches in width. It’s often partially visible above ground on your home’s lowest floor or outside. The visible section should have a plug fitting you can open up with a wrench.
2. Loosen It Slowly
Loosen the cover with the wrench before opening it all the way. Popping it open can mean accumulated waste exploding through the opening. In either case, move away from the pipe quickly when you loosen the cap.
3. Let Accumulation Spill Out
You want to get some distance from the fitting, but be sure you can still physically reach the cover in order to open it all the way. Make sure your footing is secure before you remove the cap. At this point, all main sewer line waste from the clog is going to be coming out. Let it keep spilling out until there’s nothing left in the drain.
4. Get a Plumbing Snake
You’ll need a plumbing auger or snake for this one, and it should be something heavy-duty. The budget model at the grocery store isn’t going to cut it here. Follow the instructions that came with the tool to the letter to get as much of that clog out as you can. You might need to repeat this a few times before you hit the dirt inside the pipe.
5. Hose Things Down
Hose your auger down with water while it’s still in the drain before you wind it back. This can help remove remaining debris or any smaller clogs. You’ll also clean your snake. Hose down the fitting, too, before putting the cover back into place.
6. Test for Improvement
Now it’s time to see if your efforts have paid off. Test toilets and drains to see if everything is working properly again. If not, you may need to look for different ways on how to unclog main sewer line without a cleanout.
7. Consider How Satisfied You Are
Even if you had some success in restoring drainage flow, is it really where you want it to be? If not, it’s time to contact a professional plumber who has experience with main sewer line cleaner, plumbing cleanouts, and main line drain cleaner strategies.
Related: How To Unclog a Toilet Without a Plunger
Need Professional Help With Your Sewer Pipe Cleaning?
While there obviously steps you can take to help clear your main sewer line, they might not be enough. There might also be times when you’d just rather have a clogged sewer taken care of right away. In either case, our professionals are ready to help with your sewer cleanout needs.
Count on us at Larkin Plumbing for 24/7 service with no extra charge for nights, weekends, or even holidays. We can clean out drains and clear your main sewer line promptly and correctly without damaging it. We also specialize in commercial plumbing repair and commercial leak detection services.