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"The sewage is backed up in my bathtub, what should I do?"
If raw sewage is backing up into your bathtub, you should call a plumber or other licensed plumbing professional right away. Sewage often contains bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make people sick, and the cleanup from water damage — if the backup is severe enough — can be expensive.
A sewage backup can be sign of a problem with your main sewer line: i.e., the primary drain that all the pipes in your home flow into; this drain is responsible for shuttling waste and water out into the sewer, which is operated by your town or city municipality. Sewer backups can be caused by clogged drains, a broken pipe (for example, in an older home) and pipes that have been damaged by tree roots.
If there’s a problem with the main sewer line, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fix it on your own, and you won’t be able to use the plumbing until it’s fixed.
"Who do I call to repair my sewer line?"
If the damaged part of the sewer line is on your property — and it usually is — then you should call a plumber or other licensed plumbing professional. Depending on the extent of the backup, you may want to opt for an emergency plumbing service, such as Mr. Rooter Plumbing or Roto-Rooter, which are available 24/7.
Plumbers have special equipment, such as cameras and dyes, which can help them locate the source of the problem, and should have the necessary permits (if they’re needed) to repair sewer line.
In the rarer instance that the sewer line problem is originating from your town or city’s property — for example, a sewer line that’s located in the street — you should report the problem to your local municipality, which would be responsible for repairing the damage.
"Should I repair or replace my sewer line?"
If the damage isn’t very extensive — for example, there’s a hole in the sewer drain — you may be able to simply repair or replace the damaged part of the drain for significantly less money than it would cost to replace the entire sewer line. The average cost of repairing a sewer main is about $2,550, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
Old, deteriorated sewer main pipes, may need to be entirely replaced, however, and can cost thousands of dollars.
"How often should I clean my sewer line?"
Cleaning a sewer line isn’t a DIY job; the task will need to be done by a plumber or other licensed professional with techniques such as snaking/rodding (which uses a snake line) or hydro-jetting (which uses a high-pressure water jet). HomeAdvisor.com estimates that snaking/rodding costs about $100 to $250, whereas hydro-jetting costs about $350 to $600.
In general, you may want to have your sewer line cleaned if your pipes have a clog in them or if your home’s pipes are old, but you can also call a professional for a consultation. He or she can perform a camera inspection or recommend a regular cleaning schedule depending on the state of your sewer main.
Keep in mind that if your pipes are old, hydro-jetting isn’t recommended, since the pipes can be damaged by the highly-pressurized water.
"How much does it cost to replace a main sewer line?"
Most people can expect to pay about $3,000 to $6,000 for a main sewer line replacement according to HomeAdvisor.com, though in some cases, the price can be nearly four times that amount.
If you do need to replace your sewer pipe, you may also need a new trench, which can cost between $4 and $12 per foot to dig, according to HomeAdvisor.com.
To avoid tearing up your yard, some companies offer trenchless sewer pipe installation services, in which new pipes can be fitted inside the current pipe system; this can be more expensive, however, at $80 to $250 per foot.