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Sewer line stoppages can cause havoc in your home.  They can lead to major damage and expensive repairs.  Yet many stoppages can be prevented simply by taking a few careful steps.

All drains, toilets, bathtubs, sinks and the garbage disposer are connected to the main sewer line in your house.  That main line takes waste from these sources out of the home and runs all the way to the city sanitary sewer.

Two things can cause stoppages in the main line.  First is tree roots.  Tree roots are attracted to the water in the sewer line, and can break through the pipes to reach the water.  When that happens, there is no way for the waste inside the pipe to get through the roots, and it begins to back up into your home.

Second, the ground shifts over time. This can cause the pipe to move and create high spots inside the line called bellies.  When a belly forms, waste begins to collect inside and create a stoppage.

So what can you do?

There are a few things that you can do.

  1. First don’t provoke a problem.  Be careful what you put down your drains, toilet, etc.  For the toilet, you should only flush human waste and toilet paper.  No feminine hygiene products, diapers, dental floss, condoms, tissue paper, cotton balls, etc.  In the shower, bathroom sink and bath tub, make sure hair does not go down the drain.  For the kitchen sink and disposer, do not put cooking fats, coffee grounds, fibrous foods (such as onion peels, celery, corn husks, etc.) or grease down the sink.
  2. Occasionally clean the drains with a preventative maintenance drain chemical. But avoid products that contain acid or a base such as Liquid Plumber or Draino.
  3. If you do have a main line back up, you may be able to fix the problem yourself by finding the line cleanout, which is usually a white plastic cap with a screw-on lid that provides access to the line.  If you can find the line, you can try to snake it to clear the stoppage.
  4. If the stoppage is root growth, a snake line will not solve the problem.  Your best bet then is to call a professional plumber.

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