How to Tackle Your Home’s Problematic Drains

Sewer Lateral Diagram Image from the City of San Diego Public Utilities

Photo Courtesy of City of San Diego Public Utilities

Your home’s plumbing system can be compared to a tree, where your main sewer line is the trunk and all secondary lines are the branches. Secondary drain lines include your kitchen, laundry, lavatory or shower. Your primary line is your sewer main, which is generally connected to the toilets. The home’s sewer main carries sewage to municipal sewer lines or to a property’s septic system. In the City of San Diego, it is the owner’s responsibility to maintain the home’s sewer system.

According to the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department:

“The sewerage system for a home or property is connected to the City of San Diego sewer main through a sewer lateral. The owner is responsible for the maintenance of that lateral from the property all the way to the connection with the sewer main. This connection may be in the street, past the property line; on an easement; or in a canyon. Usually after clearing the lateral, a licensed plumber will assess the condition of the pipe by televising it. If the pipe has a break or a crack, the homeowner must repair the portion of pipe that lies between the house and the property line.”

In situations of homes with easements, the sewer responsibility varies. In most cases the home owner is responsible for the connection all the way to the common line, shared by other properties. If you have a service issue and need a pipe repair or replacement past the sidewalk, curb or in the street, the City of San Diego can get involved through a Plumber’s Report process to help restore sewer service.

3 Steps to Achieving Smooth Running Drains in Your Home

The average life for cast iron drains is 60-70 years. Beyond that, we tend to see frequent failure, appearing in the form of stoppages, internal pipe rust and corrosion. Larger lines generally carry paper and waste, and old corroded drains can cause stoppages as the paper and waste get hung up on rough spots. Smaller drain lines are even more problematic, as there is less surface area for waste to flow through. Sometimes more than one method is needed to achieve a satisfactory result, but we typically recommend the following:

  1. Clear the Drain

    Clearing the drain and getting water flowing again is the first step in diagnosing your stoppage issue. Clean-outs are an effective way to enter the drain pipe system and run a cable or snake with an appropriate cutter to remove drain stoppages formed by grease, roots, inclusions or hard deposits. Another method to remove stoppages is hydro-jetting, using high pressure water to cut away roots, flush out grease or smooth out roughness and scale-build up in pipes. Once the drain is clear, it is ready for a camera inspection, if needed.

  2. Sewer Camera Inspection

    A sewer camera inspection of the inside of a pipe can tell a lot about the pipe condition, trouble areas, rough areas, cracks in the pipe or root intrusion.

    Another benefit of the camera inspection is the ability to locate clean-outs, which are often hidden or buried. Overall, a camera inspection can help to diagnose reoccurring problems and identify best plumbing repair or maintenance options.

  3. Replacing Old, Problematic Drains

    If you have old cast iron drains, one solution is to replace them with ABS plastic. Another option is pipe re-lining, which places a new pipe inside the old pipe with a liner that will smooth out the roughness. Lastly, you can do trenchless pipe replacement, which bursts the pipe underground and pulls a new pipe in its place.

    Our plumbing specialists at Ideal are happy to help you take the necessary steps to get your plumbing running smoothly.

    Call us at (619) 583-7963 and let us help you manage your problematic drains.

BONUS TIP: Some hygenic wipes are labeled as “biodegradable” or “flushable.” Although these types of wipes may break down over time, they may not break down before a stoppage occurs. The wipes can get caught in your drains, as it’s like throwing a cotton ball down a pipe lined with sand paper. Some municipalities even do not recommend placing wipes down a drain. When it doubt, throw your wipes in the trash!

Photo Courtesy of City of San Diego Public Utilities

Author: nkeithly

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