The sewer line (also called the main line or main sewer line) is the plumbing that channels waste — from your toilets, tubs, and sinks to the main sewer under the street in front of your home.
These sewer lines connect to your city’s plumbing system, where wastewater is sent and treated. Unfortunately, as a homeowner, you are responsible for repairing the line if a blockage or break occurs.
Being able to identify and diagnose an issue with your sewer line will allow you to more quickly contact your plumber for help. How fast you call your plumber and how fast they respond can be the difference between hundreds and thousands of dollars in drain repairs.
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Warning Signs of Sewer Line Problems
The warning signs that point to an issue with your main sewer line can be obvious and irritating. Some symptoms of a broken sewer line include:
- Unusually high water bills
- Insects and rodents becoming a problem
- Musty or sewage smell around the house
- Mold and mildew on unusual walls
- Water backups in the basement
You may hear multiple opinions on what could possibly be wrong, but the best and only way to be sure of what’s truly wrong is to do a camera line inspection.
How Does a Camera Line Inspection Work?
Plumbers and drain technicians carry a special camera on their trucks to do sewer line inspections. Before using a cable snake or hydro-jet, your plumber can perform a ‘camera locate’ to figure out exactly what’s causing the sewer line issue.
They also need to know where the clog or leak is so they can compare before and after images. Getting an accurate measurement of depth and location allows the drain technician to diagnose the problem and give you an accurate, cost-effective estimate.
Where is the Camera Located?
The sewer camera is located at the end of a long, flexible cable that travels through the sewer. This high-definition camera transmits a video signal to an HDTV monitor so the entire pipe’s length can be viewed.
An LED light allows any cracks, roots, or structural issues within the sewer line to be seen. From above ground using a location device, the camera’s transmitter allows the plumber to find exactly where the pipe is broken.
What are the Most Common Problems?
Once the inspection is complete, and the source of the problem is discovered, we then proceed to clean, clear, or replace the sewer line. This is all done at the homeowner’s discretion. Each sewer line problem can vary, but the most commonly found problems include:
- tree root intrusion
- misaligned pipe sections
- grease buildup
After the sewer line has been properly treated, a final sewer line camera inspection is performed to verify that it has been cleaned and cleared.
The only exception for not performing a final camera line inspection is if water is in the line. In that case, running a cable through the line first would be necessary to open it.