Problems: Foul odors, slow or clogged drains, water in basement, system failure.
Trouble signs: Inside: backups, clogs, slow-running or gurgling drains or toilets. Outside: wetness or bubbling water in yard; odors.
What you can do: Rent a sewer snake at the first sign of drainage problems and clean the outlet pipe from inside your house or outside, especially if trees are near them (roots may be responsible). Call a professional for odors and water problems.
What it costs: A snake, with root-cutting head, costs around $40 for a four-hour rental. Root-kill products to prevent regrowth/future problems cost about $15. Cleaning a septic tank costs $75 to $300 and should be done every three years.
What you can save: Tree roots can break clay sewer pipes (in older neighborhoods) and homeowners may be responsible for their repair at $5,000 to $10,000. Regular cleaning and maintenance of septic systems can help avoid expensive emergency calls or premature replacement, which can cost $5,000 or more.
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