3 Ways to Avoid Sewer Clogs (And the Messy Aftermath!)
Anything you can do to avoid sewer clogs is easier and more pleasant than cleanup after one happens. Few plumbing problems are more disruptive to normal household life than a blocked sewer. It can also be a major cause of property damage as well as a health issue — raw sewage is a biohazard and professional treatment may be required to decontaminate the premises and restore a safe indoor environment. While a sewer pipe backup typically strikes without warning, it’s not usually an inevitable event. Here three ways to avoid sewer clogs and their messy aftermath.
- Stay “flush aware.” Be careful about what goes down the toilet. Realize that virtually any paper products other than toilet paper will not disintegrate inside your sewer pipe and may form a clog. Also “disposable” products such as baby wipes and cotton balls should be disposed in your outgoing garbage, not flushed down the toilet. In the kitchen, don’t pour liquid grease down the drain — it doesn’t stay liquid very long and will harden into sludge in your sewer.
- Landscape smartly. Don’t plant trees or large shrubbery close to the underground path of your sewer pipe. These plants send feeder roots into sewer pipes, particularly in older pipes with joints. Tree root infiltration is a major cause of sewer clogs. Certain species of trees and shrubs have more aggressive root growth and are likely to invade a sewer pipe while others are considered “sewer safe.” Before planting, consult a local nursery to determine the best type.
- Eliminate the element of surprise. What you don’t know about what’s going on inside your sewer can cause problems. Since the sewer pipe is underground, you won’t see any visible signs of trouble until it happens. Schedule a sewer evaluation every three to five years. A qualified plumber can thread a video camera into the pipe and visually inspect the entire span to detect clogs, tree root infiltration, collapsing pipe segments and other common problems.