How To Unclog A Sewer Lateral

clogged sink drain

A clog in your sewer line can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know what’s causing it or what to do next. In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to address both minor and major clogs – and how to tell the difference.

The Issue With A Clogged Sewer Lateral

When clogged, private sewer laterals (PSLs) can damage other parts of your property if not immediately addressed. Clogs in your PSL will often affect your property’s interior, resulting in backed up sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets. The mess can be difficult and unpleasant to clean up – and in severe cases, impossible to resolve without professional help.

Soaked carpets, ruined or warped wood flooring, sinking concrete or pavement in driveways, pooling blackwater in lawns, and muddy or damp areas under the house all pose environmental and safety risks to occupants and neighbors. If you happen to experience this misfortune, you’ll want to clear the clog in the sewer lateral and clean the sewer line as quickly as possible.

How to Handle Smaller, Localized Drain Clogs

Not all clogs are created equally however, and you need to know which course of action to take to remedy your particular situation. Toilet paper clogs can be easier to remove than wet wipes and small objects. Tree root intrusion clogs can be the most difficult to clear, depending extent of the damage.

If ever you have a backup in your sewer line, you always want to call a professional because DIY attempts can end up doing more damage than good. But for minor clogs local to your property’s interior, you may be able to treat them with a these smart prevention tips.

  1. Take care of your property’s interior drain lines. Don’t dump food waste such as flour, coffee grounds, sugar, eggs, grease – or any substances that can cause buildup – into your drains. Keep your drain stoppers clear of food and debris as much as possible.
  2. When using your garbage disposal, run plenty of water down your drain to facilitate movement of the waste down the line.
  3. Natural enzyme treatments that slowly eat away at stuck-on material in your line are readily available on the market today. While we don’t advise using chemical agents in your drains, you can use an enzyme treatment about once a year. This treatment will clear out your drains over the course of a few months.
  4. Have your sewer lateral video inspected every couple of years to keep informed of any damage or compromise to the sewer line.

What to Do in the Case of Serious Sewer Clogs

For clogs that are causing major problems such as recurring backups, pooling water in the yard, or standing water in sinks, tubs, and appliance lines, you should pay attention to the early warning signs. Look out for the following symptoms:

  • Drains that drain slowly or make a gurgling sound
  • Multiple interior drains backing up or clogged at the same time
  • Drains that backup in reaction to other drains being used

These are all signs of a larger issue with your sewer lateral. If these symptoms begin to appear, call your sewer plumber right away. You may not be able to get a same-day appointment, so in the event that you absolutely must take measures to stop constant leaking and backups – or just get the sewer line clear enough to make the facilities usable, you can try these possible solutions:

  • Pouring hot water down the drain and letting it sit for a while so the drain eventually unclogs on its own
  • Using a force ball plunger to apply pressure, forcing water and other remains further down the line; the key here is to create a good seal between the plunger and the drain opening to get optimal pressure
  • If running water in the plumbing fixtures is backing up in the house at the lowest plumbing connected to the sewer lateral, stop running water draining into the pipes. Stop showering and stop the washing machine. Call a professional drain cleaning specialist and let them know where the sewer cleanout is located.
  • Call an emergency rooting service to clear the line and get it working enough to have a proper video inspection to diagnosis your sewer

Remember, if your sewer lateral has standing water present, it won’t be easy to get clear video of the line. Let your sewer professional know about standing water or other complications you may notice, so that they can bring the right equipment for the tasks they need to perform.

Finally, having the sewer line cleared and cleaned by a professional is usually the best option when you get a clog that won’t go away using DIY methods. Choosing the right sewer contractor can save you money and give you peace of mind, knowing you won’t have to worry about recurring problems.

If you’re experiencing frequent sewer clogs and think you might have an issue with your sewer lateral, call the experts at Pipe Spy Oakland. We’re here to help!