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Preventive Sewer Maintenance: Why It’s Essential for Homeowners

Fixing a single section of damaged sewer pipe can cost several hundred dollars per square foot, and replacing sewer drains sometimes results in five-figure repair bills. While this alone is incentive enough to perform preventative sewer maintenance, efforts to keep your sewer lines intact and functioning optimally will also protect your Weatherford, TX home. After all, sewer lines are what route water and solid waste away from properties. When these lines are blocked or broken, whole-house backups can occur, landscapes are rendered unusable, and countless health and safety issues exist. 

What You Don’t Do Is Often More Important Than What You Do

With sewer lines, the requirements for maintenance are fairly easy. In fact, much of your preventative sewer maintenance is about avoiding certain activities rather than completing challenging and unpleasant tasks. For instance, if you’re in the habit of using wet, “flushable” wipes as part of your self-care, refusing to send these products down your commodes is an excellent start. Despite being marketed as flushable, these wipes can cause a host of problems on your property and after they reach the municipal sewer system. They don’t degrade like toilet paper or other standard paper products, and they frequently absorb fats from wastewater and adhere to one another. This results in the development of large “fatbergs” that block pipes entirely and cause wastewater to back up. 

Given that your sewer lines travel underground through your yard, knowing where they are before landscaping is key as well. You should avoid planting trees, shrubs, and other foliage in these areas so that aggressive tree roots don’t encroach on nutrient-dense sewer lines. 

Protect Your Drains and Commodes 

Preventative sewer maintenance is largely focused on protecting your home’s drains and commodes. After all, they are where many prospective obstructions initially enter the plumbing system. Beyond disposing of “flushable” wipes in the trash or keeping them out of your home entirely, you should additionally avoid flushing anything that isn’t toilet paper. This includes paper towels, sanitizing wipes, cotton swabs, dental floss, floss swords, and other cleaning or self-care products. 

Be sure to cover all of the drains throughout your home with properly fitted drain covers. It’s far easier to remove items from a drain sieve or drain cover than it is to retrieve them from your plumbing system. Having drain covers in your bathtubs and showers will keep small, hard items like razor caps, bathtime toys, shampoo bottle tops, and more from slipping down into your drains. 

Keep toothbrushes and hair accessories away from shelves or counters that are close to your toilets so that these things aren’t accidentally knocked into your commodes and flushed down. Although some of these items might successfully make it through your in-building pipes without causing obstructions, they could become lodged in the sewer line that leads to the municipal sewer main. If they do, they’ll inhibit the flow of wastewater and collect other debris. Over time, slow-moving wastewater could become wastewater that doesn’t move at all.

Another excellent form of preventative sewer maintenance is to get rid of all fats before washing your dishes. Never put rendered fats from your cooking projects down your sink drains. You should also use a paper towel to wipe plates, pots, and pans clean of residual fats before washing or rinsing them off. If you cook a lot of fatty foods in your home, use large amounts of coconut oil or butter, or oil pull as part of your oral hygiene, making every effort to keep these fats out of your drains could spare you a lot of unnecessary spending.

Schedule Annual or Twice-Annual Sewer Line Cleaning

One of the easiest and most effective ways to avoid sewer line problems is by scheduling annual or twice-annual sewer line cleaning. Professional plumbers can use drain and sewer line cleaning techniques like hydro-jetting and hydro-steaming to slough off build-ups of fats, soap scum, hair, and more. These measures will keep wastewater flowing away from your home at an optimal rate. They can also lead to cleaner, fresher-smelling sinks and drains.

Annual sewer line cleaning should suffice if you have a relatively small household, practice good general drain maintenance, and don’t do a lot of cooking with grease and other fats. However, if you have a large family, regularly fry burgers and bacon, or use a lot of oil-based products on your teeth, skin, or hair, scheduling hydro-jetting services every six months is better.

Have Backwater Prevention Valves Installed

In most areas, backwater prevention valves are legally required in new construction. They’re also necessary installations for bringing older properties up to code. If you don’t have them, you can protect your sewer line from backups during times of heavy rainfall or snowmelt by simply having them put in.

Replace Outdated Pipes

Many older homes throughout the nation have outdated clay pipes at their exterior. These pipes are especially susceptible to intrusion by aggressive tree roots and weeds. These growths enter clay pipes in search of the moisture and nutrients they contain. Once they’ve established a viable point of ingress, their growth and the resulting pipe damage can exponentially increase. Worse still, “flushable wipes”, toilet paper, solid waste, and other debris can get snagged on these intrusions to cause whole-house backups within a nominal amount of time.

Developments like these remain a concern even if you have cast iron pipes at the exterior of your home. With age, these pipes can also develop cracks and gaps that allow nearby tree roots and weeds to enter. No matter what your pipes are made, replacing them at the end of their lifespan is a great way to protect your sewer line.

Get Everyone Onboard

Preventative sewer maintenance is never a one-person job. It’s important to speak to everyone in your home about your goals and about the right steps for avoiding disaster. Teenagers and small children should be aware of the dangers of flushing the wrong things. Everyone should be on the lookout for missing drain covers and small, hard items that could fall into the commode or enter the plumbing system in other ways. 

Show your loved ones how to pour grease and other residual fats from cooking into safe containers for cooling before they’re thrown away. Although many dishwashers and automatic dishwasher detergents are marketed as being able to clean grease-covered dishes without homeowners first rinsing or washing them by hand, you should always protect your drains and sewer line by eliminating as much grease as you can. Although hot grease will flow out of your dishwasher or sink when mixed with soap and equally hot water, it will harden and stick to your pipes as soon as it cools.

We’ve been proudly serving residents of Weatherford, TX, and the surrounding communities since 1983. We offer heating, plumbing, air conditioning, and electrical services. We also provide surge protection, water quality, and indoor air quality solutions. If you need help with preventative sewer maintenance, call Lightfoot Mechanical today!

Educating your family is a critical part of preventative sewer maintenance. After all, it makes no difference if you do everything right but everyone else in your household regularly breaks basic sewer maintenance rules.

Meet the Author
Gary Lightfoot

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Gary Lightfoot took over his family business and continues to run it with the values and standards set 35 years ago

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