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Prevent Sewer Line Issues by Taking Care of Its Drains

Stainless steal kitchen sink with water dropsMost homeowners tend to think about and prioritize what they can see. It makes sense: a broken shutter looks terrible and is highly noticeable every time you pull into the driveway. Of course, you’re going to fix it this weekend! But what about what you can’t see? If a homeowner has any blindspots when it comes to their home’s maintenance, it’s typically the pipes. Despite their importance to your home and daily routine, most of us never think twice about our drains and sewer line. They’re just there—that is until something goes wrong.

Unfortunately, sewer line issues are among the most expensive and destructive home disasters. When a sewer line clogs, wastewater from your sinks, shower, and toilets has nowhere to go but back up. A “sewer backup” is the result, spilling sewage out of your drains and into your home. This can result in thousands of dollars in property damage, including the need for extensive cleanup.

The good news is that the right care, forethought, and maintenance can prevent most sewer line clogs and backups. In this article, we’ll review the primary causes of this household disaster, what you should do to protect your home, and some of your options for ensuring your home is covered if you need a plumber to come out for a closer look.

Know the primary causes of sewer line issues

Here are the four main causes of sewer line clogs, blockages, leaks, and issues:

  • Trapped Food Waste: This is explained in greater detail below, but trapped food waste is one of the main factors in most sewer line clogs.
  • Thirsty Tree Roots: Nearby trees with aggressive root structures will hone in on any leak in the line, no matter how small, and find a way to grow around and then into the line in search of further moisture. If you have trees planted within 10 feet of your sewer line, you need to talk to an arborist to learn what kind of threat they may pose.
  • Shifting Soil: As the earth around the line moves and shifts, it can potentially disrupt the gravity-based flow of wastewater away from your home. Your sewer line is angled slightly from the house to the street so that gravity carries everything away. A disruption to this physical process could be disastrous.
  • Line Failure: Nothing lasts forever. Older sewer lines will start to deteriorate and need to be replaced—clay pipes—found in older homes—last about 50-60 years. Assuming there is no ground movement or other issues, PVC pipes should last about 100 years.

Watch what you put down the kitchen sink

Too many homeowners treat their kitchen sink garbage disposal as a one-size-fits-all garbage can. While garbage disposal does allow you to eliminate some food waste conveniently, it’s not a one-to-one replacement for the trash. There are some types of food and kitchen waste that you should never put down the disposal. These items, in particular, pose a significant threat to your home’s sewer line, and may accelerate the growth of a clog:

  • Oil & Cooking Grease: Hot grease poured down the drain as a liquid will cool and start to solidify inside the line, presenting a ripe opportunity for a clog to form.
  • Coffee Grounds: Gritty coffee grounds tend to stick to one another and clump, forming a solid ball deep in the sewer or septic line.
  • Uncooked Rice: Rice expands as it absorbs water, which means a handful of uncooked rice spilled down the drain could expand as it moves through the pipe.
  • Flour: The basic formula for a glue-like paste is one part flour to two parts water—which is precisely what happens in your sewer line when you dispose of flour in this way.

In general, make a habit of using the trash can to dispose of most of your food waste. Scrape your plates into the garbage first, and then run the disposal to cut up any remaining small pieces. By doing so, you’ll eliminate one of the main driving factors behind sewer line blockages and backups.

Protect yourself from potential disasters with a home warranty

Maintaining a home is a lot of work. It’s a year-round job that will consume many of your nights and weekends. However, you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re looking for some extra help, a home warranty plan might be right for you. For a fixed, monthly cost, home warranty plans offer coverage on major home systems. If you need a plumber to unclog one of your drains, for example, you can call your home warranty company, and they’ll arrange for a plumber to come out to your home. 

Home warranties are a great fit for homeowners who don’t feel they have the time or expertise to diagnose and fix home plumbing problems. Many plans are highly customizable, allowing you to pick what is—and what isn’t—covered. Ultimately, no matter what type of plan you build, it will provide you with something irreplaceable: peace of mind.

Most sewer line issues can be prevented

The proper preventative maintenance, mindfulness about your drains, and warranty coverage can help you avoid significant sewer line issues. Homeowners who treat their drains right and are willing to call in a plumber at the first sign of trouble are generally going to fare better than most if something goes wrong with their line.

Of course, hiring a property manager takes these responsibilities off your plate so you can put your attention to other tasks, like growing your portfolio. Contact us today if you’d like to learn how RPM Viking protects your investment.

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