What Is The Difference Between Drain Cleaning and Sewer Cleaning?

Drain Cleaning vs. Sewer Cleaning

Like most people, homeowners generally begin their day with coffee, breakfast, or catching up on the news from the previous day before jumping into their daily routines. No matter how your day starts, few people give much thought to how their plumbing drains are holding up, how water flows through the plumbing system, or how sewer lines work until what WAS working, is suddenly NOT working. Not to mention, you may not even know the difference between a sewer problem, a drain problem, or how to handle sewer cleaning and drain cleaning in the event of an emergency.

We get it! Talking about sewer cleaning and drain cleaning is not exactly an exciting topic of discussion.  If you’re a homeowner, chances are high that at some point you will need drain cleaning or sewer cleaning at your home.  So let’s take a look at some of the differences between sewer cleaning and drain cleaning so you will know what to do in the event of a plumbing emergency.

What is a drain and what does a drain do?

Your plumbing system contains all of your homes’ pipes for water to drain through the house to connect to your sewer line.  Drains are the part of your wastewater system that runs throughout your house.  Since the drain lines are designed to carry wastewater from inside your home directly to the sewer line, the drain lines inside your home can be easy fixes for an experienced plumber.  The most common drains in a house are located in the kitchen sink, bathtubs, showers, toilets, and bathroom sinks. 

Simply put, the function of a drain is to get rid of any wastewater from your home.  Wastewater is just that – water you are no longer using.  Any water from the water sources in your home (sink, toilet, tubs, showers) must exit through your plumbing system. 

How do drain lines become clogged?

As any parent of a toddler will tell you, it is not hard for drain lines to become clogged.  For a two-year-old, a toilet is nothing more than a mini swimming pool for marbles, stuffed animals, crayons, and toothbrushes.  A drain can quickly become clogged when anything out of the ordinary is flushed or put down the drain.  It’s a nightmare for parents, but just remember, drain cleaning is often a quick fix when you call a drain cleaning specialist. 

Oh, and it’s not just toddlers. Kitchen sinks are the most common clogged area.  After browning ground beef for tacos or frying up some bacon, the number one place that most people put the leftover grease is down the kitchen sink. If you’re thinking it’s not a big deal, let’s look at what happens to that grease.  When grease goes down the drain, even if chased with soap and hot water, the fat eventually hardens and will stick to the drain pipes, causing a pretty major clog.  

Another problem comes from placing too much confidence in the garbage disposal. Yes, the garbage disposal might be rated to crush bones and take care of last weeks’ dinner, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to send down onion skins, pumpkin guts, or coffee grounds. Putting the wrong foods and garbage down the disposal can be damaging your plumbing system, leading to drain cleaning and perhaps sewer cleaning services.  

Hair can wash down the drain during showers or washing your hair in the sink, causing clogged drain lines.  Soap is another cause of clogged drain lines.  Well, perhaps not soap by itself, but when soap meets up with other particles in the drain line, such as hair, it can form solid clumps, clogging your drain.  And that could mean it’s time for drain cleaning and calling a plumber. 

What is a sewer line? 

Now we get into the exciting subject of sewer lines and sewer cleaning! The sewer line is part of any plumbing system that takes all the water from the interior drains (sinks, tubs, toilets, showers) and sends it through the house drains into the common sewer line that goes to a septic tank or city sewer.  And just for reference, sewer lines are larger than your interior drains, which makes it a little easier for sewer cleaning.  Every home has a main sewer line that brings the wastewater from all the drains in your home (sink, toilet, tubs) and sends it to the sewer or a septic tank.  For most homes in the city, sewer lines take wastewater to the main city sewer connection leading to a water treatment plant.  Many rural homes are more likely to have a septic tank system on their property. 

How do sewer lines become clogged?

Some of the same causes of drain clogs can cause a sewer line to become clogged, too.  Since sewer lines are in the ground, there are many reasons for a sewer drain line failure.  Shifting soil or the use of heavy construction equipment above ground can cause the collapse of a sewer line.  If you have an older home with the original plumbing system, these older pipes can corrode over time, causing seals to break between sections of connected pipe.  Older sewer lines could also have damage caused by tree and shrub roots that grow into them.  

Non-disposable items such as baby wipes, toilet wipes, and sanitary products can cause sewer line blockages and clogs.   Even flushing debris down the toilet can create a blockage in your sewer pipe.  No matter what has caused the blockage or sewer line clog, a homeowner will need a sewer cleaning professional to get your home’s plumbing system back up and flowing. 

How do I know if I have a clogged sewer line? 

The most obvious way is when water begins to stand in your sinks.  Or when your toilet begins bubbling or overflowing.  Here are some signs to look out for before you get to an emergency plumbing situation requiring drain cleaning or sewer cleaning:

  • Gurgling sounds coming from the toilet
  • Multiple slow-moving drains 
  • Lower than normal water pressure
  • Foul odors coming from your drains (like rotten eggs)
  • Sewage back up through your drains
  • Standing water outside near sewer line or septic system that isn’t normally there

Things to try before calling a drain cleaning or sewer cleaning professional: 

If your drains start to run slowly, try pouring boiling water down your plughole as this helps to clear blockages. You may also be able to remove hair and other buildups from your drains.  But don’t use a drain cleaning solution as this can corrode the inside of your pipes, leading to major plumbing issues in the future.  If these simple steps aren’t effective, call a plumber for a drain cleaning service.  And if you are confident the problem is more than just a drain clog and deeper in the plumbing system, call a sewer cleaning expert.  

Remember, not all plumbers are sewer cleaning experts, so be sure to check all of the signs listed above and then call a plumbing specialist to schedule a drain cleaning or sewer cleaning service.   

When to call a plumber or drain specialist:

Drain issues aren’t the sort of thing that you want to have to deal with for several days…if you know what we mean. Plus, when you use a company that specializes in sewer cleaning and drain cleaning, you know that you’re not only getting the right person for the job but a professional who is skilled enough to diagnose the problem and get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Drain Specialists, such as Tony’s Drain, also specialize in hydro jetting and plumbing camera inspection services.  If you’re having drain or sewer issues, don’t hesitate to give Tony’s a call today.  We can have one of our trained technicians come out for an onsite assessment to help solve your plumbing issues and repair them in a timely manner. Contact us today!