How to Unclog Main Septic Line

The whole of your homestead, you have drain lines directing wastewater away from your toilets, tubs, sinks, and from other places to the main sewer line. The main sewer line is the large pipe that sends all the wastewater from your home into your septic tank or sewer system.

Your home’s main sewer line should at all times run smoothly to effectively direct wastewater to the main municipal sewer line or to your septic tank away from your home.

However, when it clogs up, all the other drain pipes in your home will stop working and the situation can deteriorate to water backing up out of your fixtures, leaking from pipes, and causing a mess in your toilet, tubs, and sinks. Cogging of the main septic line can actually cause serious health hazards in your home.

If you are faced with a clogged main septic line, there isn’t really any DIY way about it. The main sewer lines are often buried deep under the ground. For this reason, you will need special equipment and professional know-how to fix the clog.

Even though you cannot repair it yourself, it doesn’t mean that you are just helpless. Still, there are a few things you can do to fix the main sewer line clog from worsening as you wait for help from a professional plumber.

Before we look at how to unclog the main septic line, let’s look at the sign to watch out for to know that your main sewer line is possibly clogged and what are the main causes of the main sewer line clogs.

Signs Your Main Sewer Line Maybe Clogged

More often than not, the main sewer line clog occurs gradually. For this reason, being able to identify the clogging problem early enough will greatly help mitigate the clogging. Otherwise, you may end up having sewage water flowing back into your toilet, tubs, sinks and possibly flooding your home. So, what are some of the signs that can point out that your main septic line is clogged?

Slow-Moving Drains

A clear sign of a clogged sewer line is when you notice that a number of drains in your house have steadily slowed down at the same time unlike they used to drain rapidly. You may also find out that water is pooling, especially when you run it.

Often, drains tend to slow down because most sewer lines do not get clogged suddenly to block the water flow 100%. However, the debris tends to accumulate over time, thus making it hard and harder for wastewater to move through smoothly and faster.

Toilet drains are often the first drains to start slowing down whenever there is a clog in the main sewer line. When there is a clog and you flush the toilet, water will seem to hang in the toilet bowl before slowly draining down.

The toilet drains are often the first to show signs of main sewer line clog because they are often connected directly to the main septic line. So, if you see your toilet draining rather slowly, then their main septic line is getting clogged up.

Bad Odor

When the main sewer line is experiences blockages, wastewater will backflow into your toilets, sinks, and tubs. Even this is not an immediate occurrence after the clog has started, you will feel a bad smell. This is an indication that wastewater is seeping back into your drain pipes and not actually draining.

Frequent Clogs

Frequent clogs in kitchen and bathroom sinks, toilets, bathtubs, or showers in your house fare frequently fail to drain without the help of a plunger or a chemical drain cleaner, you may be having a clogged main sewer line.

Therefore, don’t ignore frequent clogs, especially if you have to use a plunger to drain every time you flush your toilet or have a bath.

Gurgling Sound

If your toilet gurgles every time you flush or when you run water in the sink or after you turn off the shower and hear some strange noise coming out of the walls or floors as the water drains, then there is a possibility that you are having a clogged main sewer line.

Dark Water

If you are noticing dark water backing up in your showers, or bathtubs, then it is possible that you have a clog in the main septic line. This happens because the water you drain has nowhere to drain thus moves backward to find the lowest point of entry.

Since the showers, bathtubs, and floor drain in the basement are often the lowest point, the dark wastewater will easily find its where there.

Exterior Issues

Inspect the exterior of your house for water puddles, especially if it has not rained for some time. Bad odors, yellow and brown patches on your lawn close to where the main sewer line passes can be an indication that the sewer line is clogged and thus seeping into the nearby ground.

Water Flowing out of the Cleanout

A clean-out is the upright pipe that plumbers use to unblock the sewer lines. If by any chance you find that water is flowing out of it, it is quite obvious that the sewer line is clogged. Apart from the water being unsanitary, it can also make your lawn, yard, or flowerbed smell awful.

Without a doubt, there are several reasons that can make your main septic line clogged. Trying to unclog it yourself can end up worsening the clogging, therefore, it is advisable to talk to professional plumbers to fix it.

They can start by inspecting the entire sewer system, unclog main sewer line, cleaning it, and telling you what occasioned the clogging.

What are the Main Causes of the Main Septic Line Clog?

Clogged sewer lines are a rare occurrence since most of the lines used for this purpose are 4 to 6 inches wide. However, if the clog does happen, then something serious has gone wrong with your main drainage line. So, let’s look at what could possibly make your main septic system clog.

Sagging Sewer Line

When the sewer line bends or collapses due to soil changes, it can cause your home sewer line to sag. Once it has sagged, wastewater flows with other flushable materials like toilet paper, large poop, and debris from the kitchen sink collects and accumulates in the sagged part resulting in a blockage.

Flushing Debris Down Your Toilet

There are several materials that you shouldn’t flush down your toilet. For instance, when you flush toilet scrub pads, non-flushable facial tissues, eggshells, sanitary towels, and tampons down your toilet, it will clog the sewer line. This is because most of these materials are non-biodegradable thus won’t break down as they drain down the sewer line. When they accumulate, especially on a joint along the sewer line, you can experience one of the worst main septic line clogs.

Severe Pipe Damage

When your septic pipe is damaged or broken, the septic line won’t drain wastewater properly. Main sewer pipes can break or rupture, especially if they are located in a high traffic area above the ground or the use of heavy construction equipment around your home.

In these scenarios, the soil above the sewer line will become more compressed downward thus forcing its weight on the pipe resulting in breakage.  Besides, metal sewer pipes can corrode thus resulting in clogging due to poor draining.

Root Filtration

If your main septic drain is older and the pipes are made of porous material such as clay, roots from trees, and shrubs around your home can latch into them. As the trees and shrubs grow, so are their roots thus expanding to break your sewer pipes which, in turn, causes clogging.

5 Steps on How to Unclog Main Septic Line

Now that you have known how whether your main septic line is clogged and the main possible causes of the clog, let’s look at how to unclog the line to achieve smooth draining.

1.   Locate the Clean-Out Fitting

The first step to unclogging your main sewer line is to locate the clean-out fitting in the sewer line system. Essentially, a clean-out is a pipe that is roughly 3, 4, or 6 inches and sits in the lowest part of the sewer line. Besides, it should be visible above the ground. Open the fitting with a wrench if it is closed with screws.

2.   Loosen the Cover

Once you unscrew the cover, use your pipe wrench to loosen the cover while being careful not to pop it wide open. Popping it wide open may lead to any possible waste buildup exploding out of the opening thereby causing a mess. So, it is always advisable to step away from the clean-out once you loosen the cover.

3.   Let the Backlog Spill Over

Now that you have moved away from the clean-out, make sure you are at a distance that you can easily reach out the cover to open it wide open. Slowly open the cover and let the waste before the drain water spill out of the clean-out. Let it spill until not no more comes out of the drain.

4.   Get Your Plumbing Snake In

Once the buildup has stopped spilling out, feed in the plumbing snake or plumbing auger through the clean-out. By following the plumbing snake user instruction, you can be able to remove the clog efficiently. However, you might be required to pull out and feed in the plumber snake several times to completely remove the clogging.

5.   Rinse Down the Plumbing Snake and the Clean-Out

Before you snake back the plumbing snake, rinse it down with water while still in the sewer line. This way, it will help break down any leftover debris or smaller clogs still lingering in the drain pipe. Besides, rising will help clean all the waste or clogging material clinging to the plumbing snake.

After rinsing, remove the plumbing snake from the drain and cover the clean-out. Ideally, go back to your house and flush your toilet, run the bath drain, shower, and sink drain to see whether they all drain properly.

Ways to Prevent Future Main Septic Line Clogs

Knowing how to prevent future main sewer line clogs is important considering how tedious it can be to identify when the clog in your sewer system and successfully unclog it.

So, to avoid inconveniences of clogged main sewer line, here are the ways to prevent clogging of your main sewer system.

Avoid Flushing Non-Flushable Items

Flushing down facial cleansing towels, thick paper towels, feminine sanitary products, and other non-flushable items down your toilet will cause clogging of your main sewer line. Therefore, avoid flushing the products, instead put them in a wastebasket.

Remove Older Tress Around Home Septic Line

Tree roots can greatly impact your drain line as they can penetrate the pipes, especially if the drain line is made of clay. Once they have infiltrated the sewer line, the roots can block the smooth water flow while accumulating toilet paper and solid waste to cause clogs. Therefore, do not plant trees, flowers, or shrubs near the septic line.

Consider Cleaning Monthly with Enzyme Cleaners

You can prevent drain lines from clogging by cleaning your drains at least once a month with an enzyme cleaner. Enzyme cleaners are not harsh chemical cleaners thus are safe for use at home. Granted, ensure that your septic lines are inspected by a professional plumber often.

Replace Old Clay Pipes

If you live in a home with old clay or lead sewer lines, it is advisable to replace them. Old sewer pipes are prone to clogs and changing them to new modern pipes will ensure you experience rare main sewer line clogs. Therefore, get a professional plumber to replace the old pipes and ensure your main septic line system works efficiently.

When Do You Call in the Professional Plumbers?

When you find that your home remedies don’t work and the clog is persistent, you need to call a plumber to help fix the clog. He may hydro-jet your clogged sewer pipe to remove the difficult clogs as well as get rid of all the debris causing the clog.

Hydro-jetting is a complex process that involves using high-pressure water jets through the clogged drains to either disintegrate the blockages or wash down all the debris that may be causing the clog.

We believe that with those few tips on how to unclog main septic line and how to prevent future clogs, you can confidently keep your main sewer line draining properly. And in case you experience a clogged drain, you know what to do!

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