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Everything You Need to Know About Your Main Sewer Drain Line

Your home's main sewer line is not something you spend your time thinking about on a typical day. However, it is an essential part of your plumbing system as it connects your home's plumbing to the city sewer system. This mainline starts at your home's foundation and ends where it connects to the city line. What many do not know, however, is that although connected to the city's system, you as the homeowner are responsible for maintaining and overall running your main sewer line.

You, being responsible for the mainline, is not the only reason to ensure proper maintenance. If not properly cared for, your sewer line pipe may cause all types of unpleasant issues for you and your home.

Types of Pipes Used

The type of maintenance and how often your sewer line needs work depends on several things. For example, the type of sewer pipe installed in your home plays a significant factor in the care and longevity of your mainline, and unless you are the original owner of your home, you may not know what type of pipes are there. Also, the type of sewer pipe you find in the mainline of your home depends greatly on the age of your home.

Pipes of Yesterday

Some of the first sewer pipes to ever be used, believe it or not, were installed around 4000BC in Babylonia. These pipes were made of clay. The material was relatively strong and continued to be used for centuries to come. Due to their potential lifespan of 50-60 years, they were still widely used in the 50s and somewhat even after that.

Another type of pipe that emerged early on was the Orangeburg pipe. Used from the 1800s to the late 1900s, Orangeburg was reasonably popular. Unfortunately, the pipes did not afford homeowners many years of service. The Orangeburg only lasted between 30-50 years before giving out. Unfortunately they easily allowed tree roots in and caused many leaks.

Orangeburg Pipe

In the 50s, while clay pipes and Orangeburg sewer pipes were still being widely used, other types of pipes became available. AC Pipes made out of asbestos cement (transite) and cast iron pipes came on the market and provided homeowners with more choices. These two materials were able to have pipes last between 70-100 years.

Unfortunately, both of these pipes came with their share of trouble. AC pipes, which were made with asbestos was later linked to cancer, which called for the removal of some pipes and the discontinued use. Cast Iron pipes have also raised health concerns. A leak or break from a cast iron pipe can cause unsanitary water back-ups and mold.

Types of Pipes Used Today

If your pipes need to be changed or you are purchasing a new home, you may want to know the best options on the market today.

Today, the most widely used type of pipe is the Polyvinyl Chloride pipe, better known as the PVC pipe. PVC pipes are made of plastic yet are also lightweight and durable.PVC sewer pipes have a lifespan of about 100 years, making them one of the most resilient and long-lasting pipes on the market. Although seemingly easy to install, PVC pipes must be installed correctly and for proper use. If used incorrectly, the pipe will eventually become damaged.

Regardless of which pipe you have, however, there will come a time that pipes need to be repaired or replaced. Pipes may even become clogged and blocked by debris and other hard materials. If and when any of these issues arise, or you detect any other possible problems with your main sewer line, you will need to be aware of some things. One of the first things that all homeowners should know about the mainline is where to find it.

Location of the Main Sewer Line

All the pipes in your home, including the ones in your kitchen, bathroom, washing machines, as well as dishwashers, all drain to your main sewer line. You probably know how to solve small issues with drains in your home, but suppose you need work done on your main sewer line. You will need to access the line and assess the situation. It is vital to know where to locate it. A home's mainline, or main drain, is either found inside or outside the house. Knowing where the main drain access is will help you locate where your mainline is.

If you live in a typically cold area during the winters, your mainline will more than likely be indoors. Many homes, especially those found in warmer climates, tend to have their main lines at the home's exterior and underground. You can usually identify the access point, also known as the sewer line cleanout, by looking for a pipe with a cap on it.

How to Find the Main Drain

Now that you know where the main sewer lines are in a house, you may begin the search for yours. For many, this may not be an easy task. If your mainline is inside, it will most likely be in the basement or garage. You may also find the main drain in a crawl space or utility room.

Mainlines located outside are typically close to the side of your home, coming out of the ground. Note that the line may be hidden away by shrubbery or other greenery. If not near the house's base, an outside line may also be near where the city's line connects with the house.

If you have looked both in your home's interior and exterior and still cannot locate your main sewer line, some other ways may point you in the right direction. One of the easiest ways is to ask the previous owner. If you are still in contact with the person who previously lived in the home, ask them if they know where to find the mainline.

Another way to find your main sewer line is to contact your city or municipality. Many towns have a sanitary sewer map that shows you where your house's main line connects to the city sewer line. Having access to such a map will help you locate your line. Finally, one of your last options would be to dig and find the line by tracing the pipe in your home.

If you have tried all of these methods and still have been unable to locate your mainline, or if the task seems too daunting, a professional plumbing company can come to your house and locate the mainline for you.

Common Sewer Line Problems and the Warning Signs

If you are searching for your main sewer line, you may have already detected a problem with your sewage or the plumbing in your home. Some of the most common main sewer line issues come with some tell-tale signs. For example, if you are experiencing slow drainage, backups and clogs, foul odor, mold, and damaged patches of lawn, you can rest assured that there may be an issue with your mainline.

Sewer lines can become clogged due to tree infiltration, human waste, grease, and more. Another major cause of a main sewer line clog is damage to the line. Your mainline can be damaged due to sagging or collapsing. Issues such as these can cause serious and unsafe blockage and backup.

Methods Used to Unclog Your Sewer Line

Once you suspect that your drain or main sewer line is clogged, you must quickly avoid any further damage. There are different ways to unclog the main drain, but some are better than others depending on the type of pipe you have, the type of clog, repair you need or even damage already sustained.

Before deciding how to solve your problem, it is crucial to understand the different options available. This will help you make an educated decision that will benefit the issue at hand and future ones.


The plumbing auger (also known as the snake) is one of the most well-known methods used to clean out or unclog sewer lines. Essentially an auger is a long cable that turns to break up clogs in pipes. One can use various types of snakes to unclog pipes, from manual ones to motorized ones. However, for heavy-duty jobs such as unclogging the main sewer line, it is usually recommended to use a motorized snake.

Although the snake is a widely used tool that has been used for decades, both individually and professionally, it is still limited in what it can do. Snaking is for more straightforward jobs, such as minor debris clogging your pipe. These machines, especially the motorized ones needed for the main sewer line, are not as easy to use as you might think. Proper usage is essential to make sure that you do not damage your line or yourself.


Hydro jetting is one of the most common ways to clear sewer lines today. The service is non-evasive, eco-friendly, and effective for even the toughest job. Hydro jet machines use high-pressured water to unclog any blockage that you may have in your sewer pipes. The water pressure is so intense it can eliminate anything from minerals, rocks, and even tree roots that have been impacting your lines for years.

Homeowners and professionals trust this method because it not only unclogs the pipes of your home, but the cleaning is so thorough you can rest assured that it will remain clear of debris for a more extended period than its counterparts. It is the most cost-effective option in the long run for many.

Because of the force of the water used by the hydro-jet machine, it is vital that you seek the help of professionals for this service. A plumbing company can inspect your pipes before the work to ensure that they can withstand the force of the water.

Dig and Repair

The most traditional way to repair a sewer line is by digging up the affected area and doing the repairs. This method is not for the faint-hearted forever. It takes a lot of manpower and work. Excavating machinery such as a backhoe may be needed to dig the line of the pipe. Although other more modern and efficient methods have replaced this repair, it is still the only option for some jobs.

Some reasons to opt for digging and repairing your main line may rest on the amount of damage, the age of your pipes, and if pipe replacement is necessary. Because this type of job is highly invasive, it is not one to go alone. A licensed professional can quickly assess your situation and see if this is the best solution for you.

Hiring a Professional

When it comes to your home's plumbing, there are some things that you, as the homeowner, can and should handle yourself. For example, the occasional clogged toilet or kitchen sink may be jobs that are simple enough to repair yourself. Other plumbing issues are a bit more complicated than others, however.

Issues surrounding your main line drain or sewer are one job you may want to leave to professionals. Cleaning and repairing your main sewer line can be tedious and extensive. In addition, the amount of work and even equipment needed to conduct the job may require more experience.

Omaha Drain – Offering Affordable Solutions

If you detect that there is an issue with your main drain line, Omaha Drain can help. Omaha Drain has more than 20 years of providing sewer and drain cleaning in the Omaha metro area. The technicians at Omaha Drain specialize in sewer line inspection, cleaning, and repair.

When you schedule an appointment with Omaha Drain due to mainline drain issues, one of the first things they will do is assess the situation. In most cases to that means to perform inspections. Sewer camera inspections provide the technician and you as the customer, a full view of possible issues and causes. In the long run, it will save you time and money because the exact issue will be pinpointed and addressed.

If all that your sewer line needs is cleaning, Omaha Drain can assist you with that. Specialized in sewer cleaning, Omaha Drain has all of the required materials and machinery to offer extensive cleaning of all of your drains. From the traditional drain snake to the most effective hydro-jetting service, you can count on Omaha Drain to clean your pipes and lines.

Additionally, if your sewer line needs more than just cleaning, technicians can quickly assess your situation and offer you all available options. Omaha Drain can take the guesswork out and give you the peace of mind that their technicians will do the job correctly and efficiently, all while keeping the cost down.

The Bottom Line

Your main sewer line is what connects all your pipes to the city drainage system. It is what keeps your home's plumbing smooth and sanitary. Depending on maintenance or everyday wear and tear, your main sewer drain may need cleaning and repair. The cause of this may be anything from the age of your pipes, type of pipes, drain clogging, and more. If you run into such an issue, you must make the necessary arrangements to solve the problem.

Depending on the work needed, you may need to seek professional assistance. Omaha Drain has years of experience in cleaning, unclogging, and repairing main lines. With their help, your main line will be identified and the problem diagnosed and repaired. Contact Omaha Drain today if you are looking for plumbing services in the Omaha area. With years of experience in the industry, Omaha Drain provides customers professional service at an affordable cost.


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