Your Pipes

While your wastewater or sewer utility is responsible for maintenance on your street’s main sewer lines, you as a homeowner are responsible for all the pipes in your home and all the service lines that run to the mainline. There are plenty of things that can go wrong with these pipes to cause backups.

Your home’s pipes will undoubtedly vary from the diagram below, but this is a fair approximation of most set ups. This excludes homes with septic tanks, which have their own unique perils.


Lateral Service Line: This is the pipe that connects your home to the main sewer line. Maintenance of this pipe is entirely your responsibility, and it’s important to keep it free of damage and debris. Depending on the placement of your home relative to the main sewer, it could run through your front, side or backyards. Every home is different.

Cleanout Line: The cleanout is a pipe that comes up somewhere in your yard between the home and the main sewer on the lateral service line. This pipe gives plumbers access to clean clogs out of your service line without having to dig deeply to access the pipe on their own. It’s important to always keep this line covered and never allow debris to get into the pipe.

Main Sewer Line: The main sewer line is the responsibility of your sewer utility. Your utility runs regular maintenance on these lines to ensure they are free of clogs. However, even with that regular maintenance, some problems are inevitable.

Common Causes of a Sewer Drain Backup


Separated Joints: Underground pipes aren’t solid, and can disconnect at the joint. This causes wastewater or sewage to back up into your home through drains.

Root Damage: Trees and their roots may not be an issue when pipes are installed and trees are young, but years of growth can lead to issues later.


Cracked Pipes: Temperature, ground movement, roots, clogs and poor installation can cause cracks which lead to backups into your yard or home.

Clogged Pipes: Clogs can be made of hair, kitchen grease, yard debris, diapers, or even paper products. They are the most common cause of sewer backups and are entirely preventable.

Mainline Backups: Weather, natural disasters, vandalism, and infrastructure breakdown can all lead to unavoidable sewer line issues.