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What Causes Clogged Sewer Lines and How to Prevent Them

Nov 10

Sewer lines carry waste away from your home or business. When they become clogged, it can be a serious inconvenience that is not only gross but damaging. In this article we will look at some of the most common causes of sewer line backups, how to prevent them, and the early warning signs to watch for.

Causes and How to Prevent Them.

Sewer line clogs are caused by several factors. Some of those factors are tied to your actions directly and are preventable. Others are environmental or caused by factors outside of our control. Regardless of the cause, you will need to contact New West Plumbing to resolve the issue.

  • Cause - Tree Roots


Trees are a wonderful addition to any yard, but the aboveground beauty belies the underground menace lurking slowly towards your sewer lines. Tree roots can spread dozens of feet below ground as they seek water. That search will bring them closer and closer to your sewer lines. If you have older sewer pipes made of clay or other porous material, the roots can penetrate the pipe. As the roots grow, they will cause cracks in the pipe leading to a break and the resulting clog will prevent waste water from flowing through the pipes.

Prevention - Unfortunately, there is no steadfast way to prevent tree root damage to sewer pipes. Newer PVC pipes are more durable and have tighter joint seals than older pipes made of clay or other porous materials, so newer homes may encounter fewer issues.


  • Cause - Toilets


Ask any of the plumbers in Coquitlam about their most common house call and they will tell you tales of the toilet clogs they have cleared over the years. It is remarkable what people will flush down a toilet either knowingly or unknowingly. Flushing things like wipes, diapers, toys, and other non flush-able items can cause clogs in your sewer lines. You can clear some clogs with an everyday plunger. Blockages that are allowed to build over time will probably require a Coquitlam plumber to resolve.

Prevention - Waste and toilet paper are okay to flush but anything other that that should be avoided.


  • Cause - Pouring Grease, Oil, and Fats Down Your Garbage Disposal


When it comes to plumbing in Port Coquitlam, pouring grease and oil down the garbage disposal is another common cause of clogs in sewer pipes. A common misconception is that you can pour grease, oil, and fats down the drain as long as you run lots of hot water down it as you do it. That thinking is incorrect. As the grease and oil travels through the pipes it cools and hardens building up over time to form a blockage.

Prevention - Always pour hot grease, oil, and fats into a coffee can or jar. Once it hardens, you can throw it in the trash. Using a screen or strainer in your garbage disposal will help prevent larger chunks of debris from getting into your pipes. Businesses should contact a plumber in Coquitlam to schedule annual drain cleaning service as a preventative measure.


  • Cause - Sewer Pipe Damage


Sewer pipes run underground and are affected by several different forces. Shifting and settling soil, increased traffic or weight on the ground above the pipes, corrosion, and leaking joint seals are all common factors which can cause damage to sewer lines.

Prevention - Regular sewer line inspections can help to identify potential issues before a clog is formed. Damaged sewer pipes will always require the expertise of a Coquitlam plumber.

What to Watch For

Most sewer line clogs worsen over time. Knowing what early warning signs to watch for can help catch problems early. Things to watch out for include.

  1. Frequent backups in a drain or multiple drains, especially if the backups occur in the lowest level of your home or business could be a sign of a break or blockage in your sewer line.
  2. Multiple fixtures are blocked at the same time. If you have multiple plumbing fixtures all clogged at the same time, you definitely have a sewer line issue.
  3. Changes to your lawn. Because sewer lines run from your home to the street finding a wet spot in your lawn when you have had no rain or an indentation in the lawn that was not there before are signs you have damage to the sewer line.
  4. Strange odors, bubbling, or noises coming from your drains or toilets.


There are several issues that can cause your sewer lines to clog. Knowing what not to do and what to look for to identify a potential clog is an important part of owning a home or business. Calling your Coquitlam plumber from New West Plumbing at the first signs of an issue can help save time and money down the road.

New West Plumbing of Coquitlam

2106 Carmen Place

Port Coquitlam, V3C 1C6

604-256-1019