What’s the Difference Between Main Line vs Drain Line?

Main line vs drain line infographic explained by D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.


Unless you’re a plumber, it’s easy to confuse main lines and drain lines. Plumbers get these questions all of the time so we thought we’d finally settle this. Keep reading to finally learn the difference of a main line and drain line, including the roles they play in your home.

Main line vs drain line infographic explained by D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

What is a Main Line?

To put it simply, your main line is your sewer line. It’s a line located underground that carries all wastewater from your home to a municipal connection or septic tank, not just toilet water.

Here is some additional information about your main line.

  • In addition to drain line clogs, another big threat to your main line is tree roots. If you know where your main line is located, you can strategically plant trees in areas that won’t damage your main line.
  • You’ll want to know where your cleanout is located in case it suffers a clog.
  • If you’re experiencing drain clogs at the lowest point in your home, you likely have a main line clog.
  • If there’s sewage coming out, there’s most likely a main line clog.
  • If you hear gurgling noises in another part of the home when using water, you could have a main line issue.

What is a Drain Line?

Drain lines are lines located inside of your home that are connected to your plumbing fixtures such as your toilets, sinks, and showers. They don’t lead directly to your sewer system or septic tank, but they dump into the main line. When you’re having an issue with one drain line, you can generally still use the plumbing everywhere else in the home because they aren’t connected.

Understanding your Main Line and Your Drain Line

Knowing the difference between your main line and your drain line is important because they’re two entirely different things with different fixes and costs.Generally, a main line clog is going to require a professional plumber and involves more steps.

Sewer Line Cleaning Experts

Great, now you’re just a bit more educated on your plumbing terminology than you were before reading this article! Ever consider a plumbing career? 😉

Anyway, if you’re experiencing any issues with your drains or main line, let D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling help. We have the experience and knowledge to fix your plumbing quickly and are available for plumbing emergencies!


Winter Plumbing Tips

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen pipes and burst pipes are expensive and stressful to deal with. During cold temperatures, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage, estimating about $5,000 in repairs. Yikes! Save yourself the cost, stress, and damage related to frozen pipes and follow these helpful winter plumbing tips from us instead, before Old Man Winter strikes! You’ll be glad you did.

Insulate Pipes

The pipes most at risk are the ones located in attics, garages, and crawl spaces. However, pipes in cupboards and exterior walls can also freeze. One way to protect the pipes in these vulnerable areas is with pipe insulation. Pipe insulation is affordable, easy to install, and can be found at most hardware stores.

You can also use a heat cable for vulnerable pipes as long as you have an electrical outlet nearby.

Apply Faucet Covers

Whether you call them faucets or sillcocks these outdoor plumbing fixtures can burst from cold air if left unprotected. Drain all of your outside faucets and cover them. You can purchase foam faucet covers from most retailers. After you’ve insulated your outdoor faucets, deactivate them at the shutoff valve.

Winterize Outdoor Drains

Remove foliage and other debris from your gutters, downspouts, and storm drains to ensure all of your exterior drains work properly. This will help prevent flooding during heavy rainfall and snow.

Shut off the Water When Leaving Town

If you’re heading out of town for a few days, you may want to shut off your main water supply. This will help prevent excessive damage if your pipes do freeze and burst while you’re gone.

Keep Your Thermostat Consistent

Although many homeowners tend to lower their thermostats to save money, this plan may actually backfire. Burst pipes cost much more than the money you’d be saving on your energy bill. Instead, we recommend you keep your thermostat settings consistent throughout the day and night. This will keep your home comfortable and keep your pipes free of ice.

Inspect Your Water Heater

You rely on your water heater for showers, laundry, and dishes. The last thing you want is for your water heater to break during a cold snap, so make sure it is running properly and efficiently. Signs you may need water heater maintenance or repairs include rusty water, water leaks, and unusual sounds from your water heater.

Keep Kitchen Drains Clear

This time of year is a common time for holiday gatherings and feasts. Just be sure to properly dispose of food. Don’t pour grease, oils, or fats down your kitchen drain or garbage disposal or you may suffer a drain clog.

Let the grease harden then scrape it in a trash can. If you do experience a kitchen drain clog, don’t use any store-bought products. These are not long-term solutions and can damage your pipes as they carve away at the lining. Instead, contact your local plumber. They have professional-grade equipment like snakes and video inspection tools.

What to do if you have a frozen pipe

If you have a frozen pipe, it’s important to react as quickly as possible before it bursts. Apply warm rags to the pipe. If the pipe is inaccessible, contact your local plumber to thaw it and inspect it for damage.

We hope these tips help you as you work to winterize your plumbing this year. If you have a frozen pipe or burst pipe on your hands, give us a call. We provide emergency plumbing services and affordable financing.

Signs You Need Your Drains Cleaned

Garbage disposal unit under sink. D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling talks about signs you need your drains cleaned in Portland OR & Vancouver WA

Garbage disposal unit under sink. D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling talks about signs you need your drains cleaned in Portland OR & Vancouver WAYou rely on your drains every day to keep your plumbing working properly. But have you thought about the last time you gave them any attention? Don’t wait until you have a full-on drain clog. They can be messy and not to mention–smelly! Here are some ways to help determine if its time you have your drains cleaned by a D & F Plumber.

Slow Draining

Are you tired of waiting for your toilet to drain after flushing, or for your sink to drain after washing dishes? Slow-draining plumbing fixtures are more than just annoying, slow draining is also a sign of a clog deeper in your plumbing system.


While slow drains are a signal of a potential blockage, backups and standing water are too. If you’re noticing standing water or sewage in your shower, tub, or even washing machine, you should contact a plumber immediately. Sewage should only go down your pipes not the other way around.

Unpleasant Odors

No matter how much essential oils or candles you use, you cannot get rid of the smell of sewage. If sewage odors are coming from your drains, they shouldn’t be masked. They should be investigated. These gasses are not only hazardous to your health but they’re also a sign of a line break.

High Water Bills

Paying more than usual on your water bill? You might have a leak in your plumbing. While some leaks are obvious, others may be hidden. The only way to know for sure is to hire a professional. They may use video inspection tools to inspect your plumbing, identify issues, and make repairs.

Pests in Your Plumbing

Pests are very clever when it comes to finding ways to enter your home. If for example, tree roots have infiltrated your sewer line, rodents and insects can use that gap to enter your home. So if you keep seeing these unwanted visitors in your home, this could signal a plumbing line break.

Experts in Drain Cleaning

Hiring a professional plumber is one of the best and safest ways to maintain your plumbing. If you’re noticing any of these problems, contact D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling. We provide drain cleaning services!

Over-the-counter drain cleaning products are only short-term solutions and can actually ruin the lining of your pipes. When you have us serving your drains, we’ll locate any blockages and safely clear them using our state-of-the-art hydrojetting method.

Keeping your drains cleaned will help prevent serious and costly problems in the future, saving you both time and money. So give us a call today for expert drain cleaning!

Plumbing Concerns for Your Older Home

D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling reveals plumbing concerns older homes in Portland OR and Vancouver WA could have.

D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling reveals plumbing concerns older homes in Portland OR and Vancouver WA could have.

Older homes are definitely sought after for their character and charm, however maintaining them can come with challenges, especially when it comes to the home’s plumbing. In this article, we will further discuss the common plumbing concerns found in older homes.

Outdated Pipe Materials

Many old homes were equipped with pipes made from materials that are no longer approved by US building codes including:

  • Lead: Lead is one of the oldest metals used in piping. Although the US restricted the use of lead in the 1920s, it wasn’t banned by congress until 1986. It poses health hazards.
  • Galvanized: This type of piping was used before the 1960s. It’s made from iron and covered with a layer of zinc which can erode over time, becoming susceptible to rust.
  • Polybutylene: Many homes constructed between the late ‘70s and early ‘90s had polybutylene pipes installed because of their affordability and ease of installation, however they were found to fail after some time. The material poses a health risk and must be replaced.

Problems with Copper Piping

If your home was built before the banning of lead, any remaining copper piping may have been fitted with lead-based solders. You’ll need to have your water tested if that’s the case. Also, copper pipes are notorious for being stolen because of their resale value. So you must make sure the piping system is complete.

Water Pressure Issues

Pipe erosion, particularly from zinc, can cause your pipes to close up and become less effective over time. This could make showering and washing dishes a hassle, and cause the tank on your toilet to take longer to refill.

Pipe Belly Formation

Pipe bellies are a bend in the pipes that occur from house settling. This can cause water not to flow properly through the pipes and create blockages.

Failing Sewer Lines

Older homes are more likely to have sewer line problems due to the Earth’s shifting or from being damaged by tree roots.

Mold and Mildew Issues

Over time, leaky pipes can create serious water damage, particularly in basements and bathrooms. Mold and mildew are concerning because they can cause severe structural damage to a home and create health problems for those living in the home.

Weird Plumbing System

Many old homes have been re-purposed and changed throughout the years, leaving them with strangely configured plumbing systems. Oftentimes older homes have been found to have botched repair jobs and installations as well. These issues can make it difficult for your plumber to find the exact cause of a current problem.

If you’re thinking of buying a fixer upper, contact D&F Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, we’d be happy to complete a comprehensive plumbing inspection for you. We also use we use video inspection to diagnose any sewer line issues.