Home Remedies For Your Plumbing

A quick guide to your sewer system and how to keep it operational using home remedies.

If you are having problems with keeping your sewer drains clean at your home, here are a few home remedies that can help keep them clear and prevent you from having to pay an expensive plumber to come out and fix them.

The Run Down of Your Sewer System

The most common problem with sewer drains is that they clog up. This can be very expensive to get fixed since plumbers generally charge about $50 just to show up. Some plumbers will try to sell you chemicals that they claim will keep them clean. The real truth is chemical such as Draino are made with acids, that can be potentially harmful to your drainage system. Not only that, Draino is a thick liquid and has been known to clog the drain worse then it was before.

In a typical home, the drainage system will generally run something like this. Your kitchen sink drain and washer drain will tie together and run either across the house or straight outside. This is because generally your kitchen sink and washing machine are on the other side of the house as the bathrooms. Now on the other side of the house, the shower drain and the bathroom sink will tie into your toilet line. This is because your toilet line is generally a 3” drain, whereas the sink line is only an 1 ½” and the shower is only 2”. So they tie into the 3” line going outside.

Now the 3” will generally turn into a 4” once outside the house and the kitchen sink/ washer line will join together somewhere in the yard. The main reason the lines will join outside is because you don’t want a drain line going all the way under your house to meet up with the 3”. If they did, and the line was to collapse, you would be forced to jack hammer up the floor to repair it.

Now the 4” goes out until it either reaches a city trunk line, which is usually a much bigger line, or it goes out to a septic tank. It is always good to know where your city sewer line or your septic tank is, just in case there is a back up in either one of them.

Rock Salt

The number one problem that service plumbers come across when it comes to drain lines is tree roots. A lot of customers will ask, “How can tree roots break into my line?” The truth is, tree roots are a property nightmare. They crack foundations and driveways, and sewer lines are their favorite target. Think about it, roots grow out to find nutrients for the tree to survive. A sewer line is always moist and it practically carries fertilizer. Once the roots break in, they will begin to grow threw the line, thus filling it up. Once the roots are thick enough, anything that you put down the toilet will begin to catch on the roots, thus clogging it up. Not only that, but the line will begin to crack and eventually cave in.

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  1. Good article, but what if this stuff doesn’t work… is there any other alternatives? I did learn a lot about my home that I didn’t know.

    Awesome

    Jeff

  2. Wish my husband would care enough to learn this stuff.

  3. First, thank you for keeping our country safe. Second, I found your articles all informative.
    Third, please keep on finding time to write.
    Finally, God bless you, and your family.

  4. I have tried everything this morning on my kitchen sink. Draino (waste of money). Vinegar and hot water and baking soda. I emptied the standing water out with a bowl and put the water in bucket. I am trying hot water again. I have a disposal and double sink.

    Any suggestions.

  5. Rose, the problem with your kitchen sink is a clog in the drain. You are right, draino is pretty useless. These remedies above are only for preventive maintenance.

    What you will want to try is a plunger. If your kitchen sink has two sides, get someone to hold a rag or something tightly over the drain of one side and then plunge the other. Make sure there is a little bit of standing water inside the sink, becuase when you plunge the sink and it works, the water will go down the drain and wash away the clog before it blocks the drain. Always run water, hot water, for about five minutes after the drain gets unclogged.

    If the plunger doesn’t work, then call a plumber. Chances are they will need to run a snake down your drain. Also, just to be thorough, if your washing machine is near your kitchen sink, run that as well, just one full load of hot water. Sometimes that water coming off that drain can help siphen out a clog, but you are probably going to still have to call in an expert.

    Good luck

  6. Thanks..I never knew that rock salt trick..Good advice.

  7. I have heard that yeast or pouring buttermilk down a toilet will help like Rid-X does. Is this true?

  8. Janice,

    Well first you need to know what kind of problem you are combating. If it is calcium deposit look for Santeen at your local plumbing store or Lowes. If you think tree roots are in your line just use Rock Salt. If the roots are bad you can try the yeast. I wouldn’t mess with buttermilk but then again I’ve never tried it so maybe it would work. The real goal is to put something into your sewer line that will choke the roots and cause them to not want to be in your sewer line, without damaging the sewer line. If you do have roots in your line you will need to use whatever remedy you do decide on fairly regularly. This is not a one shot one kill type of deal. Also there is only one permanent solution to getting rid of roots permanently and that is replacing the sewer line with PVC.

    Good Luck and feel free to ask any other questions. Also look at this article for help in choosing a plumber if you do need one.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1247256/5_ways_to_tell_if_your_plumber_is_a.html

  9. my toilet is full & will not drain i thnink it’s roots. i had the same problem a month ago & paid a plumber he used his sewer machine i hate to have to do that again will rock salt even help me? or is it to late?

  10. Andy,

    If you had a plumber come out and send a snake down your sewer line only a month ago then there are a few things you should think about.

    What size snake did the plumber put down your drain and from what access to the sewer line did he use? You see if he used a small one it likely came from the vent on your roof. If there are roots in your line this is bad. He should have used a cleanout outside your house or dug the sewer line up himself and tapped it and accessed it from there. Then he should have sent 1″ steel snake cable down your drain line to the main sewer. Now, if there were roots in your drain he should have sent it down there several times until he was sure all were cleaned out. If the head of the snake was covered in mud then that means your sewer line is caving in and you likely have little time before your drain line is shot. This means you will have to dig it up and replace the line itself. This means a lot of money so make sure if a plumber tells you that there is mud in your line you have him re-shoot the cable back down (with the head being clean when he does this) and if the clean head comes back muddy that means you are in trouble and there is likely nothing you can do but have it dug up.

    There is really no remedy once your line is infested with roots. That’s why I say to send rock salt down your line regularly to prevent having a root problem. Nonetheless, if you have roots in your line you will someday have to replace the line. That is a fact.

    Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

    Armywriter

  11. I had the same problem with doing the root cleanout a month ago, so I just figured to go ahead and take the plunge and replace what clay is still there. The gentleman at the Depot told me that the best way to deal with the roots is to measure with the line how far it went out and to dig about a foot down there. Fill that with some rock salt and that should keep the roots away. Of course this is just prolonging the inevitalble. The line will need to come out. I figure it took a month last time, so this time I will dig a foot or so every day and hopefully I can replace what line is there with PVC and be done with the roots problems. I will still use the rock salt and foaming root killer until I finish and after I put in new line.

  12. Is Pool Salt Crystals is same as Rock Salt, In South Florida at Lowes, I could not find Rock Salt but Pool Salt Crystals, Can i use it ?

  13. We have got an older home with a storm drain in the garage. It drains extremely slowly during heavy rain so we took a sewer snake to it and found a whole lot of mud down there. According to previous posts, this almost certainly means the pipe has collapsed. Should we be worried that it might connect to anything else in the house or would it be reasonable to just fill it in? We alooking into renovation options that may include changing the structure or location of the garage so that the drain is no longer needed.

    We have also taken a camera into our cleanout and seen some evidence of roots there. PVC was mentioned as the only permanent solution for this but the cleanout looked to be made of brand new plastic piping material…are there plastic pipes not make of PVC?

  14. Well Gef it sounds like your line has collapsed. About the cleanout really quick though you need to know what kind of piping your sewer line is. Sometimes plumbers will install a PVC cleanout onto a castiron, claytile or orangeberg pipe so that it is accessable. So your cleanout may be new but that doesn’t mean that your piping is. Dig up the ground around the cleanout and inspect the piping so that you know what kind you have. Ulimately you will probably have to replace it though.

  15. Ok, I have a question that will probably stump you. I have a central air conditioning system in my house, and when I run it and someone showers, I get sewer smells coming out of my washer drain! Why is it doing this all of a sudden and what can I do? It only does it when the a/c is running too. HELP!!!

  16. Sara,

    It could be a number of things. Your AC condensation line will usually be tied into where your washing machine drain is because they are usually close together. Since you are saying shower causes it that does stump me some. Your shower should be overflowing or having the sewer smell because the drain is lower. The only thing I can think of is this; 1) Its summer time so your AC is probably on a lot. 2) There is a possibility that your washing machine drain line is in need of repairs. The trap for the drain is supposed to keep out sewer odors and gasses. 3) Your sewer line is partially or heavily clogged and your sewer line runs wrong underneath your house over to where your washing machine is.

    Call a plumber.

  17. I had a plumber out this morning and he snaked my line but eventually ran into a tree root he could not unclog. He showed me outside in the driveway where in the clog was and told me he needed to replace the pipe (clay pipe in old house). I don;t want to spend the $1800 right now to replace this… is it too late for the rock salt treatment? What other option do I have to combat this “root ball” (as he called it)?
    Sewage has not started coming back up my lines and into the house, and I would like to avoid that from happening. The house has been up for sale and hopefully I will only be in it for another 4-6 months. Any ideas?

  18. Noah,

    No offense to your plumber but I have a feeling that he didn’t do the best he could. He should have ran a one inch steel cable with a cutter head down the line. He should have sent the cable in several, several times. He should have not stopped until he broke through that “ball of roots” and reached the riser that drops into the city sewer main.

    It is too late for rock salt. Rock salt is a treatment for preventative measures only.

    I would call the company and request they send out a more experienced or different plumber. Tell the guy to try and inform him that he will get a tip if he breaks through.

    Clay tile is generally good piping but is notorious for allowing roots to grow in through the hubs.

    If you are selling the house you should probably consider fixing the problem or at least inform the buyer before he/she pays. That is the right thing to do.

    Armywriter

  19. Army,

    Thanks for the thoughts. The plumber used the largest claw head that he had in his arsenal… and said that if that doesnt break through, then nothing will. However, I beleive you and will try and have someone else come out.

    As for selling the house, I will certainly pass this information along as it will probably get uncovered during the inspection process.

  20. What do you look like Alexis, I care!

  21. I have a problem when my washing machine is draining water it comes back up in my kitchen sink. But it quickley goes down after the washer has stopped spinning. I have put drain cleaner in the lines in kichen and washer line.

  22. When I was clothes back up to the stool and hear noise from the stool and washing soap gets in the stool.

  23. the main sewer line for the toilet works, I snaked the main line and got out all the roots I could. the problem is that all the kitchen sink, washer and bathroom sink comes up in the bath, and won’t drain. it there a way to get to that line so that I can snake it as well, or should I try some of these other ideas such as rock salt?

  24. Your Triond feed was subscribed by The Triond Experiment blog and when your articles happen to be related to the blog posts, your article links are automatically pulled up and attached with the blog posts as “Read Related Articles”.

    This article is currently showed as a Related Article under Home Remedies for Burns .

    Thanks and best of luck!

  25. I dont know if you even still lok at this but I have a question about my sewer. We’ve noticed for about a month now that the tub and bathroom sink take a long time to drain. Also, we’ve been smelling the sewer smell for a few weeks now. At first it was just her and there and now its even worse, like constant. When you flush the toilet you can hear bubbling in the sinks. We were looking at the sewer pipe in the basement and when you flush, the pipe fills up and then eventually goes back down. It hasnt over flowed from the pipe though. (yet)

  26. I dont know if you even still look at this but I have a question about my sewer. We’ve noticed for about a month now that the tub and bathroom sink take a long time to drain. Also, we\ve been smelling the sewer smell for a few weeks now. At first it was just her and there and now its even worse, like constant. When you flush the toilet you can hear bubbling in the sinks. We were looking at the sewer pipe in the basement and when you flush, the pipe fills up and then eventually goes back down. It hasnt over flowed from the pipe though. (yet)

  27. I have a disposable razor stuck in lower half of toilet. Any suggestions. Snake did not work. Can the razor be broken up to come out? CO2 cartridge didn’t work either.

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