Whenever you have a plumbing problem in your home it probably feels like an emergency. You think how am I going to cook in the kitchen without my disposal working? Or how can we brush our teeth or wash our hands or face when the bathroom sink is stopped up.

Now imagine that they are all connected, because well they are! Water goes into the house and water goes out of the house. If there is a main line stoppage you will notice issues with multiple areas rather than just one. This is what plumbers would classify as a plumbing emergency.

How to Detect a Main Line Stoppage

Knowing you have a main line stoppage takes a little investgistation work to find out if it is infact a main line problem or just several issues in different areas that are unrelated. You can in fact have a clogged toilet and a backed up kitchen sink at the same time without it being a main line stoppage issue. You need to first see if you can clear these issues individually. Understanding what to look for is key. If when you flush your toilet water backs up in your shower, there is a good chance this is a main line stoppage problem.

Depending on if your home has one or not you can also check the sewer clean our line, not all homes have one especially if you have an older home. If you have a sewer clean out line and you open it and can see water, you have a main line stoppage problem.

Causes of Main Line Stoppage

The top reason to have a main line stoppage issue: tree roots growing into the plumbing system. The root system of the trees will always gravitate towards moisture in the soil and want to access it, much like if it were a creek. This will cause havoc on your sewer lines.

Using your toilet as a disposal of all sorts, the only things to go into a toilet and feces, urine and toilet paper, anything else can cause plumbing issues. In the kitchen sink if you pour grease down your sink you are creating a future clog in your line that could easily have been avoided. One other cause has to do with the pipes, if they sag creating a space for sewer waste to settle.

What Next

If you have concluded that you in fact have a main line stoppage problem and are fairly handy and not afraid to get dirty you can try and clear the main line stoppage yourself. This sounds like an extremely daunting task, one of which I would never attempt on my own.

My father or brother on the other hand have and would do it and know they are saving money and would be able to do it. That is not a gene that was passed down to me! Although if you are successful you can save between $300-$500 depending on the stoppage.

How Far is Too Far

If you care to tackle this on your own: be sure to have a snake line with good length, this will help you determine how far down the stoppage is. If the snake won’t go any further, you may have located your stoppage. If you can try and get through, you might be able to force the snake through and create some holes for the water to drain. You might think you have fixed it, but if the stoppage is still there, you will have the same problem again down the line. If when you snake you never hit the stoppage, it is time to call in the professionals.


Trying to save money a lot of people will try to do most any repair or task on their own, sometimes it works, other times they could have saved themselves a lot of time energy and money if they had just called a professional service person first. NOTE: Know when you need to call a plumber versus calling a roto-rooter service person. They do two different tasks. So be clear when you call either service to determine if they are the right one to call, so you don’t waste your time or money.

Saving Money on Professionals

As long as you are in the USA, there is a home warranty that would cover you. A home warranty coverage is a service agreement that dictates that the customer pays a monthly subscription fee and in return, the home warranty company will make sure to cover all expenses in case of a malfunction in the home systems or appliances (as long as covered by contract). There are automated tools that can help you match between location and the companies providing service in this area.


Once you have determined that you have a main line stoppage, you want to get that taken care of quickly. The back up in your pipes isn’t sanitary and can cause more problems if it is ignored. If you can’t try and fix it yourself get a professional out right away to see if they can figure out how to clear the line for you.