Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a main line?
A: The main line is the one and only pipe that carries wastewater out of the home or building. All drains inside the home or building empty into the main line, where the wastewater is transported to the wastewater treatment system
Q: What is preventive maintenance on a main line?
A: Preventive maintenance is having your main line cleaned by a professional on an annual or biannual basis BEFORE a backup.
Q: Why should I do preventive maintenance on my main line?
A: Not only does a main line cleaning prevent sewage from backing up in your basement, it also increases the longevity of your main sewer pipe. At first, roots penetrate the wall of the pipe through tiny fractures. As the roots grow thicker, they turn the fractures into larger cracks. When you cut the roots out of the pipe, you prevent them from growing any thicker, thus slowing down the deterioration of your main line. If you let the roots grow uninhibited, they force themselves through the pipe wall destroying the structure of the main line, and toilet paper and other debris get caught on the roots blocking the water from draining out of the house.
Q: What does it mean to run a blade/cutter/razor?
A: The blade is the part attached to the end of a drain cleaning cable which cuts through the blockage in the drain pipe. Some people also refer to the blade as the cutter or razor.
Q: When cleaning the main line, why should you use a 6” blade if the opening (the clean-out) to the drain pipe is only 4” in diameter?
A: For most homes, the main sewer line starts out as 4” in diameter, but goes into a 6” line just outside the foundation all the way to the city connection in the street (or septic tank in some cases). Therefore, in order to assure complete and proper cleaning of the entire main sewer line, it is necessary to use a 6” blade.
Q: Should I get my main line cleaned if I have never had a backup?
A: Answer the following: 1. Was your home built in the 1980’s or earlier? 2. Do you have, or have you had in the past, trees or large shrubs or bushes in your front yard? 3. Do you dislike having sewage backed up in your basement? If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to all of the preceding questions, you should have your main line cleaned or inspected with a video camera to determine the condition of the pipe. However, if your entire main sewer line is made of PVC plastic, then a preventive maintenance is usually not necessary.
Q: Do I still need to do preventive maintenance on my main line if I’ve had my sewer line repaired?
A: Unless you had the entire line replaced with PVC plastic, it is a good idea to have preventive maintenance done. Many times, a ‘spot repair’ will be done on a line.
Q: What is a ‘spot repair’?
A: This is the replacement of only one or more sections of the pipe. When a spot repair is done, new PVC plastic replaces the broken area and is connected to the viable portion of the preexisting pipe. As time passes, the part of the pipe that is not plastic becomes susceptible to the same conditions that caused the original destruction (usually tree roots.)
Q: Should I have preventive maintenance done on any other drains in my house?
A: Usually, the repercussions of a backed-up sink or slow draining bathtub are far less severe than a sewer line back-up, so most often it is not necessary to do maintenance on these secondary drains. However, if you are planning a party, or are having a large number of people over, and you know you are not very good at keeping grease, noodles, rice, stringy foods (like celery), and other no-no’s down your kitchen sink drain, it may be a good idea to make a preemptive strike against the inevitable morning-before-theguests-arrive-back-up.
Q: What can I do to prevent buildup in my kitchen sink line?
A: Avoid pouring grease down the drain. Some people find bottle chemicals fairly effective in reducing the accumulation of buildup.
Q: What should I look for in a bottle of drain cleaning chemical?
A: You should use a product that is NOT an acid, but instead contains enzymes that aid in the decomposition of the waste.
Q: Why shouldn’t I use an acid?
A: Because it deteriorates your plumbing causing weak spots, holes, and cracks.
Q: Is it okay to have standing water in my floor drain in the basement?
A: Yes, that is normal. The water prevents sewer gas from seeping back up the pipe into your house.
Q: What are some common causes of sewer smell in a basement?
A: After the odor has been verified not to be natural gas, some of the common causes of sewer smell are caused by dried up floor drains or broken or missing clean-out covers. Both cases are easily remedied. Simply pour some water into the floor drain if it has dried out. If the clean-out cover needs to be replaced, you can find them in most hardware stores and plumbing supply houses.