Here’s what you should do to care for your home’s sewer line

Chances are that you don’t spend much time at home thinking about your sewer line. Most of the time, the sewer line is out-of-sight and out-of-mind. However, sewer line problems can result in expensive headaches for homeowners. In this article, we’ll review what you can do to care for and protect your home’s sewer line, including preventing clogs and guarding the line against tree roots.

Watch what you put down the sink

Unfortunately, many homeowners have gotten into the habit of treating their kitchen sink like a trash can. After all, the garbage disposal makes this a convenient way to get rid of waste. However, not everything should go down the sink. In fact, certain food waste has a propensity for getting trapped deep in the sewer line, where it can start to form a clog.

Sewer line clogs are bad news. As the clog begins to impede the flow of wastewater to the municipal sewer, all your home’s drains begin draining more slowly. When the clog reaches the point where it constricts the entire line, there’s the potential for a sewer backup event. When this happens, wastewater can no longer exit the home ecosystem. What goes down, unfortunately, must come back up. The result can be a disgusting and devastating flooded home, costing thousands in potential repairs and mold remediation work.

You can do your part to avoid a sewer line clog by disposing of these particular items in the trash, not down the sink:

  • Oils
  • Grease
  • Eggshells
  • Rice
  • Produce Stickers
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Flour
  • Potato Peels

Clear out the shade trees

Your front yard trees and bushes might look nice, but they could pose an imminent threat to your home’s sewer line. First, figure out where the line runs from your home to the municipal sewer underneath the street. You can typically do this by tracing a line from the sewer line drainout to the street. Next, determine if there are any trees within the immediate vicinity. As a general rule of thumb, you want to have ten feet clear on each side of the line to prevent tree roots from getting close to it. However, every tree and bush is different: some with faster-growing, more aggressive roots may need to be relocated even if they’re more than ten feet away.

The consequences of having trees close to the line could be severe. Here in Albuquerque, tree roots are ever-thirsty for valuable water and nutrients. Even the smallest leak in the line will begin to attract nearby roots to grow toward this life-sustaining source. Eventually, the roots—looking to absorb the most-possible liquid—grow either around or into the line. This can either exacerbate an existing leak or lead to a clogged sewer line.

When it comes to nearby trees, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By preemptively relocating nearby trees to other parts of your yard, you may save yourself and your home from a sewer line nightmare down the road.

Schedule a sewer line inspection

The plumbers here at Wagner have professional-grade tools we use to inspect and assess the state of local sewer lines. Arguably, the most useful of these tools is the endoscopic camera. Essentially, this is a tiny camera attached to a snake tool. During a sewer line inspection, we feed this snake down one of your drains and into the sewer line. As the snake is pushed further into the line, we can watch through video to visually inspect for any cracks, clogs, or other problems.

A sewer line inspection doesn’t always have to be something that gets scheduled once you know you have a problem. In fact, it’s a great preventative maintenance step. Since many clogs—whether caused by grease or tree roots—form slowly over time, a camera inspection can determine if there is a growing problem that needs to be preemptively dealt with. Our plumbers can then use specialized tools to clear the forming clog before it completely blocks the line and causes a sewer line backup.

Here’s how to make your home more energy-efficient this year

As we get into the coldest days of winter, most Albuquerque homeowners are running their heating systems full-time to keep their homes comfortable. As a result, utility bills are on the rise. One long-term strategy for curbing consistently high heating costs is making your home more energy-efficient. In this article, we’ll review the best ways to improve your home’s energy-efficiency this year, from installing a new thermostat to sealing your ducts and adding insulation.

Install a new smart thermostat

Programmable thermostats are incredibly popular at the moment, and for good reason: not only can they help your home become more comfortable, but they can also save you money on your monthly utility bills. Smart thermostats accomplish this by automating temperature changes throughout the course of the day. If you’re out of the house and at work from 9-5 every day, the smart thermostat will automatically recalibrate the temperature to adjust for your absence. By doing this, these thermostats can greatly reduce heating waste during the winter, saving you money.

Depending on where you live, some utility companies offer rebates or special programs for homeowners who upgrade to a smart thermostat. Be sure to talk to your utility provider about such programs—they can extend your savings even further!

Repair and seal your home’s ducts

A good portion of the heating and cooling produced in your home never even reaches you. That’s because it’s lost in transit in the air ducts between the heating and cooling system and the living spaces of your home. Leaky or loose ducts can lead to 20-30% of all your heating and cooling being lost. The solution? By having a professional seal your home’s air ducts and repair any disconnected ducts, you can restore your home’s energy efficiency and keep more of that heating inside where it belongs.

To learn more about air duct sealing and repair here in Albuquerque, call our team today.

Add more attic insulation

As we all know, hot air rises. Without sufficient attic insulation, the hot air generated by your furnace or heat pump for your home will rise right through the roof. By adding more attic insulation, you can create an insulated blanket that traps more heating (and, in the summer, cooling) inside of your home. Here’s a guide from Energy Star on how to start thinking about and planning for additional attic insulation. While some homes may already have sufficient insulation, most do not, and homeowners can put themselves in a great position to save money for years to come by adding more of it.

Seal around your doors and windows

If you have significant air leaks around your doors and windows, you’re losing on two fronts: first, that cold, winter air is getting in and creating drafty conditions in your home. Second, the hot air generated by your heat pump or furnace is escaping through these gaps. Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix. Using caulking and weatherstripping, seal these gaps around your doors and windows to block the transfer of air. You should notice your energy bills decrease after doing this.

When in doubt, talk with an expert

At Wagner, we’re your energy-efficiency experts here in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you’re looking to make your home more energy-smart, a great place to start is by scheduling a heating checkup with us this winter. We’ll assess the efficiency of your current furnace or heat pump and ensure that it’s running at its best. During this maintenance visit, we can also answer any questions you have about your thermostat, insulation, or general home energy-efficiency.