When sewer lines cease to drain or drain slowly, the most sensible and most economical approach is to use a sewer auger machine properly fitted with a strong cable and correctly sized cutter blade to clean the line. However, although this is arguably the best primary approach, when defects are present within the line, sometimes drainage can not be restored in this manner.
What to do next?
The next step is to perform a video inspection of the problematic sewer line. As the sewer camera is fed into the sewer line, the footage is displayed on a monitor for inspection. Video inspections help identify collapsed portions, perforations, sags (aka “bellies”) and/or separations, within the line. Furthermore, most cameras are able to pinpoint the location of any of the above mentioned problems (to which I will address individually).
Collapsed Sewer Line
Sewer lines comprised of Bituminized Fiber Pipe (orangeburg) and/or cast iron are most notorious for collapsing. Unfortunately, should even a small section of a line collapse, typically it is best (if not necessary) to replace that line.
Perforations are a series of holes within a line. Perforations are typically unique to lines comprised of cast iron. Such lines tend to weaken hastily and are probable to collapse (not to mention the propensity for root infiltration). When this condition is discovered, it is best to replace the line.
Bellies are low spots in a line. These can exist in sewer lines comprised of any material; however, are most common in PVC. Unfortunately, most bellies could have been avoided if the line had been properly bedded when installed. The only way to correct a belly is to repair the line manually.
When a line has a low spot or a sag, the line will hold water similarly to a p-trap. Luckily, many bellies are not habitually problematic. Many exist and cause no inherent problem nor present any inconvenience.
Problems may occur should paper or other solids settle in the sag and not be flushed through, occasionally resulting in a “soft” blockage. These soft blockages, although inconvenient, can often be easily addressed by inserting a manual sewer auger, an electrician’s “fish tape”, or a garden hose (attached to a hose bibb WITH a vacuum breaker) through the sewer clean outs to push the blockage. Once pushed, additional water fed into the sewer line will usually put the final touches on getting those solids into the sewer main.
Sewer Line Separation
Simply stated, the sewer line has come apart. This is often due to ground movement (whether natural or external). Sometimes, although ground movement may have caused the separation, workmanship could be the problem. Particularly on PVC systems, it is inexcusable for a joint to pull apart (a properly solvent welded pvc joint should never pull apart). Cracked joints is another issue altogether. Whatever the case, the line must be repaired.
THIS IS CRITICAL!
It is very common to find separations by or at the municipality’s sewer tap. AAA AUGER recommends that should such a separation be discovered, the municipal sewer department be called to see if they will make the repair at no cost. This could save you hundreds upon hundreds of dollars.
Whatever drainage problems you may encounter, AAA AUGER will find the solution.