Your home's main sewer line is the large pipe that collects all of the waste and waste water from your sink, tub, and toilet drains and sends that water out to the public sewer system. These lines are built to last, but they are not impervious to damage. Since they are located below ground, however, they are hard to actually see up-close. Plumbers therefore inspect sewer pipes by sending a video camera down into them. Here are some key signs you should have this done.
Your drains have been slow
If one drain is slow, there is probably a blockage in that drain. But if all of your drains are slow, then it's reasonable to assume there is something wrong with the pipe they all feed into — your main sewer line. The pipe may have roots growing into it, or it could just have lots of grease buildup from years of use. A video camera inspection will reveal what is going on so you can stop plunging and buying bottle after bottle of drain cleaner. Do have this done before your drains stop flowing completely, which they often will if you don't act quickly.
You have trees growing over or near your main sewer line
Trees and sewer lines do not mix. Tree roots will grow towards moisture and nutrients, so if a tiny root can work its way into your main sewer line, it will. Soon, that tiny root will grow, cracking the pipe further. Eventually, there are so many roots in the line that it starts to get clogged and slow down. Homeowners are often advised not to plant trees near their main sewer line for this reason. So, if there are mature trees near your sewer line, it's a good idea to get a video camera inspection. This way, the tree roots won't go undetected for long.
You know the line is made from clay
A few decades ago, it was common for sewer lines to be made from clay. This worked well at the time, but clay is not as durable as other sewer pipe materials, and many clay pipes are now cracked. The cracks leave them prone to leaks and root invasions. If you know or have reason to suspect that you have a clay sewer line, it is a good idea to have it inspected via camera so you can know what state it is in.
Video camera inspections are the only real way to know what's going on inside your sewer main. Talk to your plumber to learn more about camera sewer line inspections.