We flush or wash things down the drain and they disappear. That’s all most of us know (or want to know) about sewers. But what you don’t know about sewer systems can hurt you. Sewer line backups and overflows are serious health hazards and they’re painfully expensive to clean up.
Here are five things you may not know about sewers that might spare you some hard lessons down the road:
- Your home’s sewer system line works by gravity. It slopes down to meet the main sewer line, usually in the street in front of your house. If plant roots, debris, or a buildup of fats, oils and grease (FOG) clog the line, sewage will eventually flow back up into the house through the lowest drain or toilet.
- Tree roots seek out the water and nutrients contained within sewer lines and will work their way in through cracks and seams. As roots grow, they can eventually clog the sewer line, but even small roots can create clogs by catching wipes, FOG, cotton swabs, and other items that shouldn’t be flushed.
- Homeowners are typically responsible for the lateral sewer line that runs from the house to the main sewer line. That means that if a clog occurs in that line, the homeowner must pay for the repair and cleanup.
- It’s important to know the location of your sewer cleanout if a clog or backup occurs. Building codes require homes built or remodeled after 1962 to have a sewer cleanout, usually marked by a round disk in your lawn, garden or driveway marked “SEWER.”
- Trees and shrubs planted directly over a sewer line can twist the line and create openings for roots to get in. Make sure you know where your sewer line runs and avoid planting any trees or shrubs directly over the line. Please check with your wastewater utility before planting landscaping or planting.