If you own a home that uses the municipal wastewater system, you also own a portion of the sewer line. This pipe is known as a sewer lateral, and it's your responsibility as a homeowner to keep it operating correctly. Problems in the lateral can result in slow-running drains, foul odors, and wastewater backups that can cause significant damage to your home.
While a sewer line that runs a bit slow may not seem like an issue requiring critical attention, this seemingly minor problem can quickly escalate. Slow-running sewer lines can eventually stop entirely, preventing wastewater from leaving your home and requiring more expensive cleaning. A blockage may even damage your sewer pipes.
The Causes of Slow-Running Drains
If multiple drains in your home run slowly, then there's a good chance that you have an issue deeper in your sewer line. Low water flow rates through sewer pipes are typically the result of grease and fat build-up or root infiltration. In more severe cases, mud and soil may be seeping through cracks in an already damaged sewer pipe.
Most of these problems tend to become more severe over time. Grease build-up on your plumbing's inner walls can be especially problematic since it provides a soft, sticky surface that may collect additional debris. When this occurs, you may notice that the drains in your homes seem to run progressively worse as time goes on.
From Slow to Stopped
Once you have a drainage problem, adjusting your usage may not be enough to prevent your plumbing from eventually developing a clog. Grease blobs, roots, and other obstructions do more than create a growing clog. They also reduce the flow of water through your pipes. Reduced water flow can cause solids to settle in your plumbing, creating a problem that will continue to grow in severity.
It's usually harder to resolve a problem with a drain that's completely stopped, so dealing with sewer problems before they become critical can save you a significant amount of money. Slow-running drains may also clog suddenly, leading wastewater to back up into your home unexpectedly. These backups are not only unpleasant, but they can also cause significant water damage.
Addressing an issue with your sewer pipe is not as easy as clearing a clog from the P-trap beneath a sink. Since these pipes are inaccessible and a reasonable distance from your drains, plumbers will need specialized equipment and approaches to locate and clean the obstruction. If you suspect you have a problem with your sewer lines, always rely on a sewer cleaning contractor to perform a thorough cleaning.