Do You Need Your Drain Cleared By a Pro?

January 30, 2017

Have you been here? Standing at the kitchen sink, desperately hoping the greasy, backed up, watery muck will start going down the dang drain. But no matter what names you scream at it in fury and panic, the slimy mess just slowly creeps higher! So, what do you do? You might head off to the hardware store and buy a drain cleaning solution, dump it in the sink and pray for a miracle. For many drain professionals, this would be the wrong answer. The products that will clear that mess of who-knows-what out of the drain also eat away at the very pipes that house that mess. A short term fix, but potentially a long term headache.

When the drain won’t clear, it’s time to call Save Home Heat your Boulder drain cleaning experts. More on those points later. For now, let’s assume your drains aren’t at a crisis point and take a look at some of the warning signs that might alert you that a drainage issue is looming.

Warning Signs Inside Your Home

Drainage issuesKeep your eyes, ears, and nose peeled for any of these signs that your drains may not cooperate for much longer:

  • Slow draining – Even if it just seems to be taking a little longer than usual for water to leave the drain, it’s likely going to get progressively worse.
  • Recurring clogs.
  • Multiple slow draining fixtures.
  • Gurgling noises coming from your toilets or shower and sink drains.
  • Discolored water coming back up from your drain.
  • Bad odors coming from your drain.
  • Fluctuating toilet water levels, settling at different heights after each flush, can be symptomatic of a developing drain line issue (or could point to a problem with the toilet itself).
  • Mold – Mold or bacteria growth in proximity to visible or hidden drain lines–often associated with sewer smells–could indicate an undiagnosed sewer line break.
  • Leaking, cracked, or stained foundation or basement slab – Drain lines inside the home eventually join together into a single main sewer pipe that leaves your home under the ground. Seepage, water stains or inexplicable cracks not associated with outdoor runoff could be symptomatic of underground drain problems.
  • Backing up of multiple drains on the lowest levels of your home – This could also be a warning sign of an issue with the main sewer line. Other symptoms that could point to main line issues are gurgling toilets and backing up of the washing machine drain. Repairing the main the drain line could potentially involve accessing piping located underground, either indoors or outside.
  • Rodents & Insects – Hard to believe yet true, a break in a sewer line could present an avenue for a rat or insects to find their way into your home. Rats dwell in sewers and have been known to find their way from the main city sewer tie-in to a breach in a residential drain line. Resourceful rodents are capable of squeezing through extremely small cracks!

Warning Signs Outside Your House

Drain pipes typically extend underground from your house to tie into the main city sewer line beneath the street. The following symptoms may help tip you off that there is an issue with that exterior portion of your drain:

Water pooling or excessively damp spots in your lawn.

Sewage smells coming from the yard. This odor can help differentiate between an issue with an underground drain as opposed to water or your sprinkler system.

Extra-green, lush areas in your lawn, where you would have otherwise expected the grass to be growing uniformly.

Unusual indentations in your lawn or garden, or cracking or sagging in walkways or stone pavers.

As mentioned above, if you experience multiple drains backing up on the lowest levels of your home, these symptoms could be related to the main drain line leaving your home, as opposed to issues with secondary branch drain lines.

When an underground drain issue arises, many homeowners are surprised to learn that they are responsible for repairs and all associated costs until the pipe reaches the main city sewer line. The work to repair a drain running under your property can be substantial. As Gopher said to Winnie the Pooh when he overate and got himself stuck in Rabbit’s doorway: “Big job, take two, three days….” Jokes asides, while it may not take two or three days, repairs of this nature could potentially involve some excavating, or lots of digging.

What’s the Process If I Need My Drain Cleared?

Getting a drain line running well again may be as simple as clearing a line below one fixture in your home, such as a sink, shower or toilet. That relatively short line may clear easily and quickly, or may require a few runs to fully dislodge the blockage. But in either case, it’s typically not a major production. If the issue is deeper in your drain system, or is located in the section of pipe connecting the home to the city main, things get a little more involved. More specialized equipment with a greater reach is employed. Even so, if all goes well, the drain line can be cleared with relatively minor disruption and cost.

Occasionally, the issue will be more complex. The drain line, whether inside, under, or outside the house, may have been compromised. The pipe can break, buckle, or crack to the point that waste no longer will flow to the city main, or could leak into the surrounding area before getting there. The damaged section of pipe needs to be accessed so that it can be repaired or replaced. In this situation, employing specialized equipment to provide video of what’s happening inside of the pipe, choreographed with computerized data to pinpoint the

Sparvision drain tool Replacing or repairing damaged pipe located below ground may require some excavating to expose the damaged pipe. The drain line is often far below the surface. Selecting an insured, seasoned professional for this work would serve you well. It’s not rocket science, but the value of experience and professionalism can’t be overstated.

When you contact a drain professional, we would advise hiring a company that employs high quality drain line inspection equipment and cameras. Such equipment is not needed on every job, but having it available can be invaluable. With these diagnostic tools, a lot of the guesswork is removed. A picture (and computer analysis) can be worth a thousand words!

A Word Of Warning About Off The Shelf Products.
While many off the shelf drain cleaning products designed to quickly clear minor clogs can be successful, we caution homeowners about using these chemicals. Here’s why:

The long term effects could be detrimental to the drain pipes in your home, as the chemicals involved can cause long term degradation to piping and plumbing fixtures.

The chemicals in these products can be harmful to the environment.

Many of these products produce toxic fumes which can linger in your home long after the product is applied.

What Can Be Done to Maintain My Drain System?

There are helpful and healthy products that can be applied to your drain system on a maintenance regimen to help keep your lines clear. These products are engineered to eat up gunky stuff in your drain line as it starts to build up, and then once that’s been done, the biodegradable product consumes itself. This is a slow process designed to keep the drain from becoming clogged, not a short term fix for an existing blockage.

Regular drain maintenance from a professional service is also an option. Your drain professional can suggest a regimen to inspect, treat and clear your drain lines to keep your waste flowing freely to the city main line. Consider it like a regular dose of cholesterol medicine to keep the arteries free and flowing! If you’ve experienced a significant drain backup or repair, the value of this planned maintenance will be clear.

When Purchasing a New Home…

When purchasing a new home, particularly an older one, we recommend having an inspection performed on the sewer line that exits the house underground and connects to the city main sewer. This is most important if your new home has trees or other foliage on the property. Tree roots are attracted to underground water sources, and can grow a significant distance from the actual location of the tree in order to find plentiful water. In a worst-case scenario, tree roots can intrude on the underground pipe and cause them to erode or collapse. This important inspection is another excellent application for a drain inspection camera.

Don’t Roll The Dice. Call a Pro Today!

In the Denver and Boulder, Colorado area, consider contacting Save Home Heat Company’s drain services specialists to learn more about having your drains professionally inspected and cleared.