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Wednesday 29 November 2023

To clean, or not to clean

Posted by at 3:01 PM

To clean, or not to clean

To clean, or not to clean...

That is often the question on the minds of home and business owners who find themselves at a fateful crossroads. 

That is of course, the crossroads of: cleaning your sewer service line, or getting the line fully replaced

Before we can arrive at an answer, we need to discover how one gets to this point…

To start, there are a handful of ways one may discover they have a clogged, settled, or leaking sewer line. For the lucky ones, you may notice some of the symptoms that present themselves early on: One or more fixtures start to drain slowly, gurgling sounds are heard within plumbing, plunging becomes a common chore, and sewer fumes become noticeable. While unpleasant, these symptoms are relatively small in scale, and typically don’t warrant any costly countermeasures on their own. “A bottle of drain-cleaner here, a small hand snake there, maybe even an air freshener if nothing else!” To the untrained eye, these issues may not be indicative of anything more than a temporary annoyance that will certainly sort itself out after a few more flushes… Until, the dreaded backup occurs. Sometimes minor, sometimes disastrous, sewer backups can happen at any time, and at multiple sites within your property. While going into the gory details isn’t necessary to get our point across, there are many that understand just how problematic (and smelly) a sewer backup can be.

All of a sudden, it quickly becomes apparent that the issue is greater in severity than you may have originally thought. It’s about this time when reinforcements are brought in. Whether or not you need professional clean-up services can depend on the size of the backup, but almost always, a plumber and/or specialist in line clearing is brought to the scene.

At this point, it is very likely that this specialist will be able to solve the issue. From hair, FOG (Fats, oils, and grease), roots, or just about anything in between, these individuals are quite adept at clearing lines, and setting you up for success for the short and semi-long term.

However, not all of these sewer issues are created equal. As you can imagine, roots grow back, and a settled/broken line is not going to get better over time… 

And this is where you find yourself at the quintessential crossroads. How many times am I willing to clean my sewer line? How frequently should I expect this service to be done? Is it possible that I could still experience a backup before my next scheduled cleaning?

As a property owner, this is where the cost-benefit analysis of repeated cleanings, versus a full replacement, comes into effect. 

As a contractor who specializes in replacement, naturally, we are slightly biased toward the peace of mind that a full replacement provides.

With that being said, below are a few common scenarios and their corresponding solutions that we feel make the most sense, both from a financial and risk-adverse standpoint:

1) Settled/Broken Sewer Line - Full Line Replacement ($$$)

Not only is this a problem that won’t be fixed and may even get worse over time, leaking sewage is a serious environmental hazard. Groundwater contamination, and/or settling sewage waste into one’s yard is a major health and safety issue. For those that find they have a settled or broken sewer line, there is only a 2 year to 10 month period (depending on the excact circumstances and severity) allowed for immediate action in the form of an upgrade or replacement if it’s found to be a groundwater contaminant.

Reference Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Ordinance number 61 from St. Louis County for more information.

Learn more about Trenchless Pipe Bursting

2) Root intrusion - Re-lining or repeated cleaning ($$)

Roots that make their way into your line will naturally grow back. Depending on their level of intrusion, there may be sewage that seeps into the ground from the point(s) that roots enter or exit. If sewage is leaving the pipe after roots are cleaned or removed, then a relining of your pipe is recommended.

Learn more about Trenchless Pipe Lining

3) One-time excess blockage from debris such as hair, tissue, wipes, clutter, etc. - Repeated cleaning ($)

If your sewer service line is in-tact and there are no apparent structural issues, then simply cleaning the line makes the most sense. Over time, you may find that you have blockage issues once again, but if the problem simply arises from improper line use (aka flushing too much of what shouldn’t be flushed), then a more responsible approach to what you put in your drains is the best solution all around!

Contour Inc is a locally owned and operated excavation company dedicated to exceptional service throughout Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Located in Duluth, Minnesota, our team services home and business owners throughout the Twin Ports area. Our vision is to help each one of our clients create the property of their dreams, and we help them do so with an experienced crew, top-of-the-line equipment, and a continuous drive to exceed expectations.