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Root & Debris Removal

Hydro Cleaning / Rodding / Removal

Sewer Rodding
Sewer Rodding

**The above right is an example of tree toots taken out of a sewer line that was NOT properly maintained. This could have been avoided with annual maintenance! 


Greg Hannah Plumbing will get your drains cleared and running again in no time. Our experience, skill and knowledge range from bathroom sink clogs to main sewer line blockages.


Our state-of-the art equipment allow us to pinpoint the problem and solve it completely. For severe back-ups we offer high pressure hydrojetting. Because we respect the environment we never use harsh toxic chemicals.



Different Types of Sewer and Drain Lines

There are many different types of storm and wastewater pipes for a home, which are listed below. Each type of piping system can have its own unique drainage problems requiring different methods to maintain the lines and clear stoppages.








•Floor drains

•Vent lines

•Storm sewer

•Sanitary sewer


Reasons for Line Stoppages

There is many ways in which either a sewer or drain line may become stopped up. Additionally, some of these reasons explain why we cannot guarantee a completely free flowing drain and or waste line after rodding work has been performed.


  • We cannot control how fast tree roots grow into a sewer line.

  • We cannot control how much grease from a kitchen sink goes down a line.

  • We cannot control the improper use of a garbage disposer.

  • We cannot prevent mud or yard waste from entering sewer lines.

  • We cannot prevent feminine hygiene products and other improper items from being flushed down a line.

  • We cannot prevent a sewer line from collapsing.

  • We cannot prevent improperly piped sewer and drain lines from stopping up.

  • We cannot prevent an already broken sewer line from stopping up by catching waste flowing down the line.

  • We cannot prevent the freeze-thaw cycles from heaving the ground, causing a sewer line to sag.

  • We cannot prevent a sewer line from sagging, thereby holding waste material, which builds up and stops the line.

  • We cannot prevent a line from being stopped up from a back-up in a city sewer line.

  • We cannot prevent the swing check in a backwater valve from becoming fouled with regular sewerage waste.

  • We cannot predict when or prevent a sewer with a large stoppage or line break from ensnaring or breaking our rodding cables.

  • Nor can we prevent any combination of the above items.


Remember that rodding a sewer line is only a cure for a sewer line that stopped up due to improper debris or a build-up of debris in the line. Rodding cannot cure sewer lines that are broken, sheared, sagging, infested with roots or are piped improperly.


How a Sewer Line is Cleared

The clearing of a sewer or drain line is not as simple as inserting rodding equipment and turning on the machine. There is quite a bit of diagnostic work that coincides with the knowledge of how building sewer and drain lines are SUPPOSED to be installed in home.


The procedure is as follows:


1.  Find the floor drain or fixture that is showing the symptoms of a sewer stoppage.

2.  Determine which fixtures are served by the blocked line.

3.  Determine if the stoppage is in a branch line or a trunk line.

4.  Determine the best location to rod from.

  • Where is the largest cleanout?

  • Which cleanout will allow access to the largest portion of the drain line

  • Which cleanout will get the cutter head closest to the blockage to transmit the largest amount of power to break through the stoppage.

5.   Determine if a second person is required to help rod to prevent damage to customer property or prevent injury of the rodding technician.

6.   Determine the type of rodding machine and cable to use.

7.   Determine the best type of cutting head to use.

8.   Determine if the sewer line has to be drained before removing a clean-out plug that could otherwise cause water damage.

9.   Begin rodding.

10. Note the distance that the sewer line opens.

11. Note the distance of any spots in the sewer that cause resistance to the rodding.

12. Continue rodding until the city main or trunk line is reached.

13. Extract the cables noting the distance of any hard spots.

14.  If any hard spots still exist in the sewer line, continue to work the cutter head back and forth over the hard spot.

15.  Extract the remaining cables, noting the type of debris, if any, extracted form the sewer line.

16.  Seal the clean-out plug and pressure test if possible.

17.  Test the sewer line to determine if the drain line is open.

18.  If the sewer line is open, we have to assume the rodding has been completed successfully.


Re-Occurring Line Stoppages is a Sign

When a drain line stops up shortly after rodding work has taken place, it is for one of two reasons. Usually, the amount of roots or debris in the line was not completely cleared during the first rodding session. Unfortunately it is impossible to determine if all of the debris is removed from a sewer line without the use of a video system. While the use of a video system will determine if the job is complete or if the sewer may have additional problems that should be addressed, most customers would not benefit from paying for a sewer line to be video inspected unless warranted by a reoccurring stoppage. To suggest that every sewer line should be video inspected would be considered unethical and gouging.


Sometimes a reoccurring line stoppage is a sign that the problem with the sewer is larger than can be remedied via conventional rodding. This occurrence generally requires further diagnostic work to determine what other problems may be causing repeated stoppages.


What is in a Guarantee?

There are many companies that offer a one-year guarantee on a sewer or drain line. Unfortunately what customers fail to realize is that a one-year guarantee on a drain line is nothing more than a marketing gimmick that is sometimes designed to take advantage of the consumer. If you have read and understand the above points you can quickly realize why it is impossible to guarantee that a sewer or drain line can stay open for any length of time. Some companies offer a one-year guarantee because they are hoping that your line stops up again within the warranty period. This allows the company to sell further diagnostic measures which may be necessary but often lead to the conclusion that some or all of the drain line needs to be excavated and replaced at great cost. While some lines do need to be excavated for a repair, be wary of the costs involved, the use of undersized rodding equipment, and the lack effort put forth to open a line via conventional rodding.


Maintaining Sewer and Drain Lines

There are several methods available for opening and maintaining sewer and drain lines including:




•Video Inspection & Location


•Sewer Cleanout

•Preventative Rodding Maintenance



Why Sometimes Does it Take a Second Person to Perform Sewer and Drain Work?

Sometimes it is impossible to rod a sewer with one person. Certain situations call for a second technician to provide a hand and / or to provide a safe working environment. Examples of a two man rodding call are:


  • If the customer has a sewer cleanout that requires that the rodding machine be more than 4′ away from the jaws of the rodding machine. This situation requires two men because the greater the distance between the rodding machine and the cleanout, the greater the risk of injury to the technician. At a distance of 4′ or more, two men are needed to hold the spinning rod.

  • Rodding from a roof requires two men to move the equipment onto and off of the roof and the second man helps to keep the equipment from sliding off of the roof due to the vibrations of the running equipment.

  • Rodding in confined areas such as a crawl space requires two men to move the equipment into and out of the space. The second man also helps with the feeding and removing the cables while the other technician works the rodding machine.

  • Protection of property. If we have to pull a toilet to rod your sewer line, it is usually necessary to have a second man to prevent the cables from destroying the interior finishes of the home.

  • Locating a line underground. If one technician is having difficulty locating a sewer line, a second man will help move the camera inside the home while the second technician will use the locating wand outside to find the sewer.

  • The element of time. Many times, having two men cuts the time of the service call in half.


Preventative Maintenance Versus Excavation and Repair

There are many customers who are on preventative maintenance schedules with our company. The idea is to rod a sewer line with enough frequency to prevent the sewer line from backing up into the house. The frequency of rodding maintenance is historically based and differs with every sewer line. We have customers who know, from past experience, that they need to rod their sewer anywhere from once every other year to up to 4 times a year.


Over time, a sewer will require move frequent rodding maintenance because problems with a sewer line do not get better over time, they get worse.


When a customer reaches the point where they require preventative rodding maintenance two or more times a year, we will usually suggest inspecting the line with our sewer camera to determine the type of problem and a cost for a long lasting solution.


At this point the customer has to decide how much longer they intend on living in the house and calculate the maintenance cost versus the repair. Other considerations should include the risk of damage when a sewer does backup (if not repaired) and the value of the home when selling due to a problematic sewer, (Disclosure laws prevent homeowners from not informing prospective buyers of the sewer history.)


When is it Determined that Excavation is Necessary

If preventative rodding maintenance is rarely performed, roots will have the opportunity to overgrow the sewer line and debris will be allowed to accumulate to the point where rodding takes an inordinate amount of time to perform. If rodding for more than 3 hours with several different types of cutting heads is removing debris but not opening the line, at some point a decision has to be made. Because no one can see underground, it is impossible to determine the extent of the debris or how much of a stoppage has been ground through and removed and how much of the stoppage remains. For example, assume that a root growth is 10′ long inside a sewer and we spend 3 hours rodding. We may have successfully removed 9′ of the stoppage or we may have removed 1′ of the stoppage. What are we to do? Do we continue in hopes of removing the last foot successfully, or continue wastefully when we should be excavating instead. Sometimes a customer will become frustrated and call in another company in an attempt to open the line. If the first company removed 90% of the stoppage but did not clear the line and a second company arrives, removing the last 10% and opens the line, the first company, which did the majority of the work is considered a failure while the second company, who performed little work in comparison is considered the hero.


When we rod a sewer line and we hit an obstruction, we will typically extract our rodding cables and re-try the rodding process two or three times before having to look at excavation for a solution.


Sometimes when the cables are pulled out of the sewer for inspection, mud or clay is found on the cutting head. When a sewer line breaks, sometimes rain and groundwater will slowly wash mud and clay into the sewer line, eventually causing an obstruction. When the rods are inserted into the mud filled sewer line, the clay will impact itself onto the cutter head. This is a clear indication that the sewer is broken and must be excavated for repair.


Not all sewer lines can be opened with rodding equipment. When a sewer line collapses, shears, or a root infestation is too large; the only remedy is excavation and replacement of a portion of or the entire sewer line.


Miscellaneous Customer Concerns

I never had a problem with the sewer before, why do I have a problem now?


  • Sewer and drain lines, like everything, have a useful life. When a sewer breaks, it breaks. There is a specific point in time when the condition of the sewer becomes a problem.


Why is it taking so long to rod the line?


  • If the sewer and drain line piping was not installed properly, it may take a long time to rod the drain line. Because most drain lines are buried inside walls or underground, it is impossible to know if a drain line was properly installed without first attempting to rod the line. If during the course of our work it is determined that our rodding cables will not follow the sewer line downstream, this is an indication that the drain line was not installed properly.

  • If the sewer has a large root mass or contains a lot of debris, it may take a longer than normal amount of time to remove as much of the roots and / or debris as possible to prevent the sewer from backingup again.


While Hannah's Plumbing cannot 100% guarantee a clear line we can assure you that our expertise and the open mind of an informed customer willing to take the necessary steps to affect a proper repair will keep sewer and drain lines open for much greater periods of time. If you have any questions regarding the above information, please do not hesitate to contact us at (708) 267-1461!

Calll Greg Hannah Plumbing & Sewer To Get Your Free Quote!

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