As a kid, I used to peer down into the sewers by my house to see if I could find Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo. I never found the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Master Splinter, much to my disappointment. These days, it’s not likely there will be crime-fighting reptiles in the sewers, but something much more sinister may be lurking under the sidewalks (like…clogs.)
Main line sewers
All of the drains in a house lead into what’s called the “main line”. Showers, sinks, and toilets all have pipes that run down into the main line, which flows out to the street. Contrary to what the fish in “Finding Nemo” think, all drains do *not* lead to the ocean. Usually, main lines feed into the city sewer system or a septic tank, depending on the location of the house. Problems usually come from the debris that collects in the main line after being swished down from drains, or if tree roots infiltrate the main line pipe. Tree roots can grow in even the tiniest cracks in the pipe, and older clay pipes are a lot more susceptible to root damage. When there is a problem in the main line, all of the toilets and drain inside the house will begin to back up. Maybe then the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will end up in bathtub, but more than likely, dirty sewage water floods the inside of the house. That makes a bad day for pretty much anyone.
What happens now?
When the main line starts backing up, it’s time to call in the cavalry to make sure that the sewer cleaning is done properly. Nowadays, this is a much easier process than in past years. The main line can be the star of its own feature film when the plumbers put a camera down the main line so they can further inspect the damage. Using this technology allows the plumbers to find the source of the problem quickly and make sure it is completely taken care of (and if the kids are lucky, there might be a cameo from some certain four-legged, shelled friends). After the source of the problem is located, the pipe can be cleaned – with water.
It might seem counter-intuitive to use water to fix a clogged drain, but this water is under extreme pressure and essentially “blasts” the clog out of the way. It also reaches all 360 degrees of the pipe, leaving it sparkling clean all the way around. This procedure can also be done on pipes before they become clogged as part of routine maintenance. In general, it is a healthy practice to make sure that pipes are taken care of; many homeowners aren’t aware that they are responsible for any repair that needs to occur between the residence and street (where the city takes over). Also, hydro-jetting could let the turtles have their own personal water ride from time to time.