I just had to have my main sewer line snaked, and the technician said it should be done once every 2 years. Is this really the case, or was he just trying to insure he has job security?

  • 2
    Sounds like job security to me. If he did his job right, and if you aren't pouring a bottle of salad dressing down the drain every day, then I see no reason for it to clog. If it isn't broke, don't fix it, unless you want to go broke.
    – BMitch
    Jan 8 '12 at 0:48

It depends, if the sewer is well designed, well built and does not have any issues, and you don't put a lot of fat down it will be ok for a very long time with no maintenance.

However if it "has issues" then you may wish to have it snaked before it gets blocks and becomes an expensive after hours service call.

The problem is you wont know until it gets blocked next time if you should have done the maintenance….


I don't think it's common for this to be a regular occurance unless something is wrong with the sewer like a collapse, a belly, roots intruding or incorrectly sized. If there is something wrong with it, then this is not regular scheduled maintenance but a workaround for a larger problem.

If you have any doubts the only real way to know is to have a camera put down the sewer. If it is in good shape then you might never need to snake it again. If there is a problem with it then you need to decide whether you want to spend the money to correct it, or keep paying a plumber to snake it out; if you are lucky you won't have a backup before this happens.

Either way, you can of course help keep your sewer in good shape by avoiding putting fat down as well as other objects that frequently cause problems like feminine hygene products.


In my old house, I had issues with tree roots. I did not do it every two years, but it ended up getting clogged up around every three years, so it had to be done anyway. If I would have done it every two, I could have avoided the clogged issue.


I asked around about this before and the answer I got was that it should be done every 50 years... That said, my parents had to have it done yearly at their old house as one of the trees found it and really like putting roots into it...

  • Could you post a link to your question?
    – Steven
    Jan 10 '12 at 16:23
  • No, I can't, since it was a question verbally asked of drain professionals. :-) Jan 12 '12 at 21:21

We are currently have major issues with our sewer line and have come to find out a few items of interest:

  • *Most home owner's insurance policies do not cover plumbing; if a pipe breaks, then it is the homeowner's responsibility to have it repaired since it wasn't maintained properly. (freezing pipes are a different story)
  • *Most home owner's insurance policies do not cover anything sewer related.
  • *Most cities are only responsible for the main sewer line. The homeowner is responsible for the line between the home and the main sewer line.

*most = probably all.

Our conclusion is that indeed cleaning out the sewer line should be a regularly scheduled maintenance item. Especially in older homes where the pipes tend to have quite a few roots damaging the lines.

Better to spend a couple of hundred dollars every couple of years than end up with a several thousand dollar expense and sewage backing up into your home.

This may sound like job security, but in the long run it is the correct thing to do. Probably similar to being told we need to change our oil every 3,000 miles... may not be entirely necessary, but in the long run will spare us more problems.

  • You can usually get "backup water" coverage added to your insurance at a very cheap rate. We used this coverage when we had an issue with our sump pump in the basement. It would not have been covered if we did not have this rider on our policy.
    – SchwartzE
    Jan 17 '12 at 18:10
  • @SchwartzE - Thanks for the tip. We're going to be re-evaluating our home owner's insurance and will definitely check out the rider. Jan 17 '12 at 18:31
  • Insurance policies and city policy vary greatly by location. My insurance, for example, does cover backups without the need for anything extra. My city covers the sewer line up to the water-shutoff in my driveway (ie: first 10' or so of my property), everything after that is my problem.
    – Steven
    Jan 17 '12 at 19:16
  • @Steven - Verify if your policy covers the sewer line between the house and the city connection; insurance will cover a backup inside the house, but not the root cause of the problem in the sewer line if it's outside the home. I'd suspect that the insurance as well as the city will not cover the sewer line in your yard. The point is, there is most likely a section of sewer line that is not covered by any of the entities. Jan 17 '12 at 19:36
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    Intersting, I will double check. But we all know the insurance company will try and screw you regardless :)
    – Steven
    Jan 17 '12 at 19:48

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