Sewer Personal Lines

In case of sewer emergencies contact the District

Operations:    970-468-7688 or 970-390-7688

Office:            970-513-1300 or 970-409-0270


Signs of a Clogged Sewer Line

The most obvious sign that a main sewer line is clogged is having sewage or waste coming back out of the drains. This is usually an unpleasant experience that creates horrible smells and may even do damage to the home if it can't be taken care of immediately. However, there are warning signs that tend to crop up ahead of time. Paying attention to a few key signs can help homeowners to notice when there are clogs before a full blockage happens. For example, if there is a loud gurgling sound coming from one of the drains that never used to be there before, it may be due to a clog in the line. In older homes, noticing pieces of roots could be a sign of a problem. As older pipes collapse, roots are able to get inside. If water comes through the drain and even tiny pieces of roots are visible, this may be a big issue. Even if water doesn't gurgle or come back up through a drain, a bad smell may be sign of a clog somewhere in the line.

Ways to Clear or Clean a Sewer Line

In order to remove a clog from a sewer line, professionals may rely on several different tools and appliances. The most basic and common approach is to rely on a drain auger, which is also called a drain snake. This is a long cable, often made from metal, that is flexible enough to go down the drain and around any bends in the plumbing. Most professional plumbers have augers that are 50 feet or longer in length so that the majority of clogs can be reached easily. If the clog is minor, it can be broken up using an auger in a matter of minutes. While an auger can break up whatever is causing the clog and is clearing the sewer line, it is not actually cleaning the entire pipe. To clean a sewer line and remove all blockages large and small, the most effective option is a high-pressure hose. This can remove the clog as well as any residue that has built up within the sewer pipes. Generally, a high-pressure hose, also known as a water jetter, will be more expensive than using an auger. However, it may work better and mean that homeowners only have to address the problem once instead of every few months.

Where is My Sewer Clean Out?

The "house main drain", what many people think of as the sewer line, is the main horizontal drain line under a home. As the main drain exits the perimeter of the house it connects to the "house sewer", essentially the outdoor portion of the sewer line. The house sewer then connects to the municipal sewer system.

Where the house main drain connects to the house sewer, code calls for a clean out. Because placing the clean out right at the perimeter of the home could prove inconvenient, it can be located up to three feet past the edge of the home.

To locate the clean out for the sewer line, start by looking for an "S" stamped into the concrete or painted on the curb near the street. This "S" marks the rough location of the buried sewer line as it connects to the city sewer. Look for the clean out in a straight line between the marker at the street and the part of the house where the house main drain is believed to be. The clean out should be no more than three feet from the house, along this line.

The Exceptions

Not all houses were built to code, codes have changed over time, sewers have been added after a home was built, any of these and many other situations can arise that may mean the clean out, if it exists at all, is not where it would normally be expected. If you know where the street side connection is, then follow the line between that point and the house.

Under ideal circumstances, the clean out is located inside concrete or plastic enclosure with a lid labeled "Sewer Clean Out". However, more often the clean out has been covered with dirt or grown over by landscaping. If you cannot find the clean out, you may have to do a little digging around where it "should" be located. A little exploration may reveal it under just a few inches of mulch or beneath the vines of a hearty plant.

In addition to the main sewer clean out, your home may have multiple other clean outs for the convenience of accessing lateral and vertical drain lines in your home. The clean outs may appear as capped stubs of pipe protruding from exterior walls. If you have access to a basement or crawl space, you may find clean outs there. Less common but still a possibility are clean outs in the attic. Attic clean outs can often be useful for clearing obstructions in the vent portion of the drainage system. Sometimes the clean out will appear as an "Y" or "T" in a pipe that seemingly dead ends. The dead end stub is actually a clean out.