Your City at Work Meet Public Works employee Kirt Bowers. His job includes using robotic TVI (Television Video Inspection) to detect failing stormwater and sewer lines. Watch the video.
Homeowners Guide to Taking Care of Sewer Laterals
Avoid pouring your money down the drain. Follow these tips for keeping pipes clog-free and functional:
Cooking Oils: Do not pour cooking oils down drains. Grease travels down the pipe, cools and hardens in the pipe. Excessive grease over time can build in pipes to the point where the pipe will fail (plug). Contact Clean Water Services for "Freeze the Grease" kits at 503-681-3678.
Food Waste & Garbage Disposals: Do not dispose of coffee grounds, egg shells, or stringy material (i.e. celery) in garbage disposals. They can settle to the bottom of the pipe and build up, reducing flow and causing solids to get caught. To eliminate this from occurring, place those items in your compost bin or garbage can.
Dehydrated Foods: Avoid putting things down drains that swell up when they get wet, like rice and instant mashed potatoes. They have the same effect on the pipe as other food waste mentioned.
Wipes: Baby wipes, bleach wipes, sweeper pads, etc. clog service laterals. These products are great for what they are designed to do, but do not break down in the sewer system. Because wipes do not break down, they tend to get tangled in the lateral pipe. If they travel to the public line, they present the same problem in the line but also can affect pump stations and treatment plants.
Toys: Toys and other large objects quickly become lodged in service laterals and in some cases may require the pipe to be excavated to remove the obstruction. Sometimes a rented sewer snake may break the obstruction free allowing it to reach the public line.If you have a large blockage that you cleared yourself please let the city know so we can clean the mainline in your area.
Tree roots: Tree roots plug and break service laterals. If trees in your yard are near your service lateral, they may cause interference with your lateral by wrapping themselves around the lateral and possibly crushing the pipe and entering the line. If you have roots in your lateral, there are products you can buy at your local home improvement store that can eliminate most, if not all, of the roots. If you have many roots, you will need to have a plumber clear the line before you are able to treat the roots.
Utility bores: With all of the utilities in the ground today, some companies choose to use underground boring to install utilities rather than open trenches. One of the casualties to this practice is penetrated sewer laterals. Laterals tend to get “hit” frequently. If you have a blockage that cannot be cleared and you, or your plumber, suspect it to be a utility hit, call the city at 503-718-2591 for assistance.
Need a Plumber?
Shop Smart and Ask Questions When selecting a plumber, contact at least three and ask these basic questions:
What guarantees are given for the work performed? Ask for references.
How long have they been in this business? The longer they have been in the business the greater knowledge base they will have to trouble shoot the problem.
What type of camera is used to video the lateral? You don't need to know the specs of the equipment but here is what is important:
A color camera will show a much better picture than a black and white camera.
A camera that is self leveling ensures you are always seeing the pipe from the bottom and not from wherever the camera happens to be in the pipe at the moment. Cameras that are not self leveling make it difficult to interpret what you are seeing, even to the trained eye.
Request the camera be placed on brushes or on a skid (both are devices that lift the camera off the bottom of the pipe and get it closer to the center of the pipe while being used). The cameras most plumbers use are pretty small and the center of the lens is no more than an inch off the bottom of the lateral. Sitting this low will cause the camera to be underwater in a very small amount of water giving the false impression of a problem where one may not exist.
If the plumber intends to video the line, request they clean it first. This will remove any solids that may be holding water back in the line and give a much more accurate look at the lateral. This may cost a little more money up front, but may eliminate a recommendation from the plumber that your lateral needs to be repaired or replaced which can cost thousands of dollars.