A Homeowner’s Guide to Avoiding Expensive Drain Repairs

Trenchless sewer repair

Of all of the home repairs that homeowners have to deal with, none are quite as dreaded as drain repairs. Drain repairs are messy, expensive, and destroy your home’s lawn and foundation In the process. Don’t even get us started on the implications of damage that involves a sewer repair. Gross.

While our magic wand that allows us to avoid all drain repairs altogether is currently in the shop, we put together a quick and easy guide every homeowner should know for avoiding huge plumbing issues that are a real drain to your bank account.

Tips for Avoiding Major Drain Repairs

  1. Know before you buy.
    Before you buy a home, it is worth your weight in gold to bring in a drain expert to conduct a sewer camera inspection. A video inspection involves clearing the lines out with a high-powered water jet and then running a camera through them to identify any issues such as pipe breakages, corrosion, and invasive roots. This is an inexpensive insurance policy to make sure you aren’t buying a home that will cost you thousands of dollars in drain repairs down the road.

  2. Know your pipe’s health.
    After you’re in your home, it’s a good idea to have drain inspection conducted every two to three years to catch little problems before they become big problems. Catching an issue before your home and lawn are flooded with backed-up waste gives you the greatest odds of the necessary drain repairs being the least expensive, and involving the least amount of damage in the process. You’ve probably heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.” or as we like to say it, “An ounce of drain inspections every two years is worth thousands of dollars in avoided drain repairs.”
  3. Know good plumbing practices.
    Being smart about what goes in and around your plumbing infrastructure is a great way to avoid expensive drain repairs. A few simple rules for maintaining a healthy plumbing system that every homeowner should know include:
    1. Get to the root of the problem. Invasive tree roots are one of the most common reasons for pipe replacements. Before you plant any shrubs or trees in your yard, make sure their minimum of 10 feet away from any sewer lines going to your house. If you are planting a tree that is notorious for its expansive root system, keep it at least 20 feet away from any underground pipes. Trees like Cottonwoods and Willows absorb a lot of water and grow roots quickly– if they are not 20 or 30 feet from your sewer lines, they’ll become a big issue very quickly. Really large trees, such as Oak and Maple trees, like to grow slow and steady. These types of trees get so large that eventually they’ll be an issue to your sewer lines as well, although it takes several years for you to realize it. These trees are best for sprawling properties and in public parks.
    2. Be mindful of what you put down your drains. Do not put fats, oils, or grease down your drains. These substances are not water-soluble, and so water doesn’t push them through your plumbing system once they harden. As they buildup, they lead to blockages that can cause yucky issues. Of course, never put solid, non-organic objects down your drains, your plumbing system isn’t equipped to handle them.
    3. Stay away from corrosive materials. If you do get a blockage, avoid those drain cleaners that you find in the hardware aisle of the grocery store. A chemical that is capable of eating through a blockage is also capable of eating through your pipes. It might be a temporary solution, but if it corrodes your pipes, you will have a much bigger bill down the road.

      Instead, try a non-corrosive solution like pouring boiling water down the drain, using baking soda and vinegar to oxidize blockages, or snaking it with a simple auger from a hardware store. If none of those options work, call in a plumber to clear it the right way, rather than using a “quick fix” that will cost you dearly later.

Do you know of any other great tips for avoiding costly drain repairs? Please share your drain wisdom in the comment section below!

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