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Preventing Sewer Problems


In the Nick of Time

The first signs of root clogs and other sewer clogs include slow-flowing drains, toilets that make gurgling noises when flushed, and wet areas around floor drains that appear after you do the laundry. If you take action when you see these signs, you might be able to avoid a complete sewer-line blockage.

Trees are believed to be the root (pardon the pun) of more than 50 percent of all sewer line clogs. Simply put, roots love sewer lines, and will readily grow toward them, especially lines with openings caused by deterioration and movement.

Once inside a pipe, roots continue growing. If not disturbed, they'll eventually fill the pipe with hair-like root masses wherever they enter. These masses are what grease, tissue paper, and other debris get caught in.

Because root growth in sewer pipes is such a common problem, it's a good idea to have your lateral line cleaned on a regular basis, either by mechanical means or by using products that kill the roots inside pipes without harming trees.

Experts recommend visually inspecting lateral lines to determine the extent of the damage before treating them. This is done by snaking a small video camera into the line. Check your yellow pages under the sewer contractor heading for companies that do these inspections.

Finally, don't plant trees and shrubs with shallow, spreading root systems anywhere near lateral sewer lines. If you don't know where your lateral line is, check the survey documents you received when you bought your home. If you don't have them, your city planning or public works department might have a copy.

Sewer laterals usually run in straight lines, so it's fairly easy to get a general idea of their location. Simply find the clean-out. If it's near your house, draw a straight line from the clean-out to the street. If it's near the street, do the same thing in reverse.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Common Household Disasters © 2005 by Paul Hayman and Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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