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What to Know About Your Home’s Sewer Line

Though it’s possible an action figure can clog a drain, often clogs are due to a buildup of grease or hair. But, beyond clogs and flushing the toilet, most don’t know much about their sewer system. A basic understanding of your sewer line system can be helpful in dealing with plumbing problems, drain cleaning, and knowing when you need a plumber.

Plumbing systems include two separate sub-systems. One subsystem brings the water in, and the other takes the waste water and sewage out (known as DWV, for drain-waste-vent system). While the water supply is based on water pressure, water leaving the house is based on gravity. Sounds simple enough. However, there are a few features this gravity based subsystem uses to ensure proper and efficient sewage drainage, such as vents, traps, and clean outs.

Generally, the least know part of your plumbing system, vents can be seen sticking up on your roof and allow air to enter the drainpipes. The DWV system needs to maintain neutral air pressure in the drains to allow the free flow of water and waste through gravity. Without air supply from these vents, waste can back up and noxious sewer gases can seep into the home through drains.

Every drain (sink, toilet, and tub/shower) has what is called a trap, and the most commonly used trap is called the “p-trap”, interestingly shaped as a “U”. You’ve probably seen them underneath your sink. These traps contain water which creates a barrier that prevents sewer gas from entering the home. Traps can also catch jewelry or other items inadvertently dropped into the sink’s drain. This section of pipe can be removed to retrieve lost items or be cleaned out in the case of a clog. Some traps include plugs that can be removed for the same reason, instead of removing the whole pipe for retrieval or cleaning.

Another feature to the DWV system is clean outs. This is a capped pipe which provides access to a sewer line in which a plumbing tool, such as a plumbing snake, augur, or water jet, is entered into the pipe to clean out blockages. Knowing if your home has a clean out pipe, and, if so, where it is located, is vital in the case of a blockage. Easy access to the clean out is recommended to prevent overflow.

With a basic understanding of your sewer and waste system, you can identify problems with the system if water is backing up or you smell sewer gases. Also, knowing things like where your clean out is located can aid professionals in a speedy resolution to your plumbing emergency.

If you encounter a plumbing emergency in Denver, know that Master Rooter is available 24-hours a day to handle any sewer and drain issues. Call us today to schedule maintenance, tend to that leaky faucet, or assess your system and ensure it is in working order.

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