If the answer is no to all of the above, it’s time to bone up on your sewer savviness. Admittedly, it’s not a sexy topic. But knowing how your sewer works and who to call for help when it fails can save you money and stress.
Sewer Lines Only, a Denver-based company, offers definitions of these terms:
Main line: The main line connects your service line to the city sewage treatment center. It is the city’s responsibility to maintain. “It is typically 10 inches in diameter and runs under your street or alley,” notes Sewer Lines Only.
Tap: This is what connects your personal service line to the main city line.
Clay line or clay tile: If you have a Denver home built before 1975, it’s likely to have sewer lines made of clay pipes. These often are infiltrated by tree roots and “have multiple joints that can become separated or misaligned, causing leaks.” New replacement lines are made of plastic.
Off-set: This is a problem that typically occurs in a clay line. Because clay lines feature joints every 2-5 feet, the joints can move. When they get out of line with each other, this is an “off-set,” which sometimes collects debris.
Belly: This is a low spot in the line where water and sewage may collect. Depending on the severity, it may be problematic.
Clean-out: This is a spot that offers access to your sewer line. It’s usually found in your yard near the house. Clean-outs “are used to easily access your sewer line in order to inspect or clean it out.”
Sewer scope: This is when a company uses a camera to record what is happening inside the line. The camera is usually fed into the sewer pipe through a vent stack on the roof, a toilet or a clean-out and helps to find blockages and pinpoint spots that need repair.
Pipe bursting: This is when the existing line is replaced by “pulling a new line through the existing line.” This method will not resolve a belly and is allowable only in uniquely difficult excavations.
To keep your sewer line free of trouble, it helps to flood it with water once a month and before you leave for vacation. Turn on all the taps, fill bathtubs with water and then drain them, run the dishwasher, flush all toilets. The rush of water will help push debris through the pipes.
And when problems arise, be careful to hire professionals you trust. It’s best to avoid using a company that offers to both inspect your pipes and repair them, as that company is incentivized to find problems that may not exist. Call us for referrals before spending thousands of unnecessary dollars.
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