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