At Sun Valley Rooter & Plumbing, we are committed to being your qualified experts for all your septic and sewer line questions. Take a look at the list of frequently asked questions below for some useful answers. If you can’t find what you need, let us know and we’ll get back to you shortly.

What Causes the Main Sewer Line to Clog?

Old system scale buildup: Scale buildup tends to form on the inside of older pipes, whether clay or metal. Over time, the scale buildup will create a rough surface, increasing the potential for a clog to form in those areas.

FOG – Fats, Oil & Greases: Many people pour grease right down the drain, not realizing that the hot liquid will immediately solidify once it hits your cold pipes, creating a grease blockage. Grease blockages can be tough to clear out, and most of the time, they have to be jetted out. Jetting is another costly service offered by drain cleaners. The better alternative to pouring grease down the drain is to capture it in a container and dispose of it properly according to your local municipality's recommendations.

Grease, oils and fats commonly cause sewer drain clogs.

Although it starts as a liquid when it enters a sewer line, FOG eventually hardens and lodges inside the line. Solid FOG traps debris leading to massive sewer blockages.

How do you solve this problem?

Well, don’t pour FOG down the drain. You can also help solve this with regular drain cleaning or investing in a grease trap, a rectangular device that helps prevent oils, fats and grease from entering the drain line.

Tree-root intrusion through pipe joints: In old clay sewer lines, drain sections were connected by inserting a non-bell (hub) end of the pipe into the hub of the next section and filling the gap with concrete. With time, the concrete deteriorates, and roots grow through the openings and expand, damaging the piping. Roots can also grow through partially collapsed pipe or even rotted-out cast iron. If a sewer line has a large root blockage, the sanitary system will shut down.

If tree roots are big and strong enough, they can penetrate sewer lines and form root balls that cause sewer blockages. Tree roots can also wrap around a drain line and crush it.

Flushable wipes: Ask any plumber how they feel about flushing "flushable wipes," and they will tell you it's a bad idea. Especially if your drains are draining slowly, which probably means you already have a partial blockage. When those wipes enter the drain line, they will compact over time, creating a full clog. Some plumbers have experienced pulling flushable wipes out of a drain that's up to 30 feet in length. It's no fun task, not to mention the cost associated with hiring a drain-cleaning service to clear the line.

Flushing other hygiene products: Similar to flushable wipes, other hygiene products like Q-tips or feminine hygiene products are not meant to be flushed down the toilet. Tissues and paper towels are other common products that cause problems since they are designed not to break down. A general rule of thumb? If it's not toilet paper, don't flush it.


Improper use of garbage disposals: Improper use of your garbage disposal can contribute to a build-up in the main line. A garbage disposal should only be used for small amounts of scraps. You may think that throwing those potato skins down the garbage disposal will make your kitchen clean-up easier. 


Slow-draining drains could be a sign of a clogged or partially clogged drain.

Gurgling (a hollow bubbling sound) while draining is usually a sign of a partial blockage in the system. Vents in your home's "DWV System" (D – drain, W – waste, V  –  vent) promote airflow throughout the piping system. As water drains, the vents allow pressures to remain neutral throughout the system. As water flows through the pipe, a partial blockage will cut off that airflow. Usually, the air will pass, allowing the water to continue draining; but when a blockage closes off the pipe completely, the air will escape via the drain instead. And that's what's causing the gurgling.

Unpleasant smells coming from your drains are likely caused by standing water within the drain line.

Water coming back up your drains and other fixtures like toilets, bathtubs or washing machines indicates a blockage. If you have a full blockage further down the line, you might experience backups from other fixtures in the home.


Pay attention to what you flush down the toilet. If it's not toilet paper, don't flush it.

Use food strainers or hair catchers to collect food particles, debris, hair or anything else that might get into the drain line. Food strainers are also a helpful tool to keep food scraps like potato peels, eggshells and coffee grounds out of the garbage disposal.

Flush your drains once a month by filling up the tub or sink with water and then allowing it to drain. If your drain line is clear, it should drain freely. If you have a blockage, you will notice the water draining slowly or not at all. Doing this monthly will also help flush out your pipes because the large water flow will help clear the drain of smaller particles or blockages. Be sure not to leave the fixture unattended. While flushing is helpful, it could cause water damage if it overflows.

Have your sewer line inspected every two years, especially if you've had issues in the past. Hire a drain-cleaning or sewer service company or a plumber to 'scope' the line and identify any problems. Scoping involves sending a remote camera down the line for a visual inspection. Depending on the findings, the company will recommend jetting or a drain cleaner to clear out the line. This activity is especially important to identify root intrusion.

Address an issue as soon as it arises. If you notice any of the above warning signs, take care of the problem immediately. Don't wait for a mainline blockage, because you could be left with costs upwards of $1,000 to dig up your yard and clear out your main sewer line.

Old or Weak Sewer Lines

When sewer pipes get old, they crack, break and easily collapse. This can lead to severe sewer problems.

If your pipes are old, replace them as soon as you can to avoid such problems. This not only prevents blockages, it makes the sewer line more efficient.

Plumbing Connections

Sewer drain clogs can also be caused by bad plumbing connections.

To avoid this, hire a qualified, certified, and experienced plumber. This helps ensure all your plumbing projects are done right the first time.

If you have a sewer line problem, schedule an appointment with the experts HERE 


All of the plumbing fixtures, drains, and pipes in your home are connected to the biggest (and most important) piece of plumbing in your entire home is the main sewer line.

Between improper use of these fixtures, drains, and pipes and many other outside factors, the main sewer line can take a beating over time. Eventually, the main sewer line can become clogged (or even collapse) to the point of needing serious repair or even replacement. This wear-and-tear can turn into a headache that you don’t need!

Knowing what causes sewer lines to clog and the warning signs to look out for can help prevent you from ever having to deal with a major repair or replacement.

Almost every homeowner has run into the unfortunate situation of having a clogged drain or a slow-running sink or bathtub. While a single clog can be a pain, it’s typically easy to fix.

However, what happens if all the drains in your home begin backing up at once?

It could be a sewer drain clog. The repair or replacement of an entire sewer line (or even just a section) is sometimes required when drain clearing efforts don’t work. Here are the primary indicators that a repair or replacement procedure is required:

Severe Pipe Damage

When sewer pipes are broken or ruptured, the sewage won’t be able to properly drain through the system—leading to immediate and frequent backups. Common causes of sewer pipe damage include:

Sewer pipe rupture due to shifting soil, settling, increased traffic on the ground above, or use of heavy construction equipment above ground.

Corrosion of an older pipe, causing the pipe to break or collapse.

Leaking joints where the seals between sections of pipe have broken, allowing water and sewage to escape.

A Sagging Sewer Line or “Bellied” pipe

While this is out of a homeowner’s control, sagging sewer lines happen over time. This “bellied” pipe occurs when a section of the pipe has sunk due to ground or soil conditions.

The low spot in the line will begin to collect paper and waste—resulting in repeat blockages.

Tree Root Infiltration

Older sewer lines were sometimes constructed out of clay or other porous materials. In addition, the connections between the pipe sections weren’t as tight as today’s PVC pipes.

As tree and shrub roots grow, they search for sources of water. If they latch onto a sewer pipe, they will grow into the pipe in order to reach the water inside. As the roots expand over time, it can cause the line to break.

Flushing Debris Down the Toilet

For the sake of your plumbing system’s health, it’s important to know what you can and can’t flush down your toilet.

Treating your toilet as a trashcan will cause sewer drain issues. The number one rule to remember when flushing the toilet—make sure only human waste and toilet paper goes down.

Pouring Grease Down the Drain

Grease, fats, and oil are all some of the biggest culprits when it comes to clogging lines. It’s NEVER a good idea to pour grease, oil, or other fats down a drain.

Always pour hot grease into a coffee can or jar. Once it solidifies, you can throw it away. People mistakenly think that running hot water when pouring grease down a drain helps wash it away. This is not the case.

Once grease cools off, it will harden and stick to your pipes—leading to sewer line clogs. To make sure you never run into problems, educate yourself on things you shouldn’t put down your garbage disposal or drain.


If you’re concerned about catching your sewer line issue before it’s too late, we’ve gathered four warning signs you should look out for:

Drains or Sewer Line Keeps Clogging

Our advice to you is to steer clear of liquid “drain cleaner” and call a professional to check out that backed-up drain! If you have a drain that continuously clogs, especially in the lowest level of your home, it could come from a break or blockage in your sewer pipe.

Multiple Fixtures Are Clogged

You aren’t sure if the toilet or shower drain keeps clogging because of an individual pipe blockage or because of a sewer line issue. However, a very obvious sign of a sewer line issue is when more than one plumbing fixture backs up at the same time.

Bubbling/Gurgling From the Toilets and Bathtubs

The next thing to look for when you suspect a sewer drain clog is any unexpected or unusual reactions when using plumbing fixtures. You may have a problem if:

Flushing the toilet causes water to back up from your tub or shower.

Toilet water starts to bubble. Should this happen, run water in the sink closest to the toilet for a minute or so. If the water continues to bubble (or rises), then it’s not a fluke.

Hearing a gurgling noise as the toilet flushes or the water in your bathtub or shower is draining. If you hear this, contact your local plumber.

Your Lawn Starts to Change

A sewer line typically extends from your home, through your front lawn, and into the city’s sewage system. Head outside and see if you can notice any of these changes to your lawn:

If you have a break in your sewer line, you’ll see an indentation on your lawn.

If you find a soggy patch of grass when it hasn’t rained or snowed recently, it may be sewage from a broken sewer pipe.


While some drain cleaning and maintenance tasks can be safely performed by a homeowner, sewer line repair and replacement tasks should always be performed by a certified, professional plumber.


Video Inspection

By employing an in-line video inspection camera, you will be able to see where the problem lies and experience faster and less costly repairs. Here’s how it works:

Images captured by the camera are transmitted to a device operated by the camera technician. These images are recorded for further review.

At the same time, a radio transmitter on the camera records the physical location of the line and its depth from the surface, so the appropriate repairs can be properly planned and implemented.

Once it’s determined—and you agree—that a sewer line must be repaired or replaced, here’s generally how it works..


Traditional Sewer Line Repair or Replacement

The traditional sewer line repair or replacement is typically performed using a backhoe to dig up the area surrounding the line, allowing easy access to the problem area. Once the repair is made, the backhoe is used to refill the area. Since 1987 we have been servicing the Valley, Phoenix and Sun City. With our experience we are able to determine a plan of action and repair/replace septic and sewers systems faster and cheaper than anyone else in the Valley!

This option may be the only option at times, depending on the condition of your pipes, their configuration, or where you live.

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