If you think you have sewer line issues, we’ve compiled a list of several reasons why this happens. Once you get your sewer line repaired or replaced, you can use this list to do inspections. You can also watch for signs that there can become issues before you need to have a whole line replaced or need costly repairs again. It might be the trees on your property, or you have a lot of grease buildup in your sewer line. Regardless, our team is always ready to help get the pipes in your home working well again so you can resume your lifestyle.
1. Tree Root Intrusion
Tree roots have an innate ability to seek out moisture and nutrients, which are abundant in sewer lines. As trees grow and their root systems expand, these roots may be attracted to the moisture seeping from small cracks or joints in sewer pipes. Once a root finds its way inside, it thrives in the nutrient-rich environment and continues to grow. This growth can lead to significant obstructions within the pipe, causing slow drainage or even complete blockages. Additionally, as roots expand, they exert pressure on the pipe walls, potentially leading to fractures or full breaks. Such intrusions necessitate costly repairs and maintenance.
2. Pipe Corrosion
Metal pipes, especially those made from iron or steel, are susceptible to corrosion. Over years of exposure to moisture and various chemicals found in wastewater, these pipes can degrade. Corrosion starts as a minor discoloration or rusting on the internal walls, which may go unnoticed. As it progresses, the pipe’s structural integrity weakens, leading to small leaks or pinhole-sized perforations. If not addressed promptly, these minor leaks can evolve into significant blockages or even major collapses. Corroded pipes also accumulate debris and sediment more rapidly, exacerbating drainage problems.
3. Grease and Fat Buildup
One of the most common culprits behind sewer line issues is the accumulation of grease, fats, and oils. These substances, primarily originating from kitchen waste, possess a deceptive nature. While they might flow down the drain as liquids, upon cooling, they solidify, clinging to the walls of the pipes. Over time, this layered buildup reduces the effective diameter of the sewer line, leading to slow drainage and, eventually, significant blockages. The danger here isn’t only a clogged pipe but the potential damage and stress it puts on the plumbing system.
4. Flushing Non-Degradable Items
Sewer systems handle organic waste and toilet paper, but modern lifestyles introduce various non-degradable items into sewer lines. Products like baby wipes, sanitary napkins, cotton balls, and diapers might seem harmless. However, their inability to break down easily poses a significant challenge. When such items go down toilets, they journey through the sewer lines, often getting snagged and creating formidable clogs. Over time, these blockages can cause backups, leading to unsanitary conditions and potential home damage. Awareness and education about what’s flushable, coupled with using trash bins for disposables, can mitigate this issue.
5. Structural Defects
The foundation of a reliable sewer system lies in its structural integrity. However, even the best installations can encounter challenges over their life span. Structural defects in sewer lines can arise from various sources: perhaps a hasty installation, the use of subpar materials, or even just the natural settling of the ground. Issues like faulty joints, misaligned pipes, and even minor cracks can evolve into more significant problems. As water seeps through these imperfections, it can erode the surrounding soil, compromising the pipe’s support. Over time, this can lead to collapses or severe blockages.
6. Ground Movement
Ground movement, whether natural or not, poses significant threats to the integrity of sewer lines. Earthquakes, with their abrupt seismic shifts, can snap pipes or disconnect joints. Similarly, construction activities, such as excavations or heavy machinery operations in proximity to sewer systems, can exert pressure, leading to dislocation or damage. Even minor ground settling over time can impact the alignment of the pipes, creating potential weak points. Properly installed and fortified sewer systems can resist some of these threats, but regular inspection becomes paramount to detect and rectify any vulnerabilities induced by ground movement.
7. Aging Sewer Systems
As with any infrastructure, sewer systems have a finite life span. Over decades, the materials used in older pipelines, especially those not made of modern, durable materials, have degraded. This aging process can manifest in the form of cracks, leaks, or even outright collapses. Further, outdated design practices might not account for current usage levels, leading to frequent blockages. Regular monitoring and timely interventions, such as pipe relining or replacement, can prolong the life of these systems.
8. Heavy Rainfall and Floods
Water is both a friend and foe to sewer systems. While designed to transport wastewater, these systems can be overwhelmed by sudden surges brought on by heavy rainfalls or floods. When stormwater infiltrates sewer lines at volumes beyond their capacity, it can lead to backups, overflows, and even infrastructure damage. Flooding can also introduce debris and sediment, exacerbating blockages. Modern sewer designs often incorporate overflow mechanisms and separate stormwater drains. In regions prone to sudden deluges or in older infrastructure, the risk remains. Preemptive measures, like installing backflow preventers, can help reduce the impact of such events.
9. Poor Maintenance
Neglecting the regular upkeep of sewer lines means that you could have major issues later. Over time, debris, grease, and sediment naturally accumulate, narrowing the passage and reducing the flow efficiency. Without periodic cleaning and inspection, these minor obstructions can turn into severe blockages, leading to backups or overflows. Furthermore, hidden issues like minor cracks or tree root intrusions can escalate into major complications. Implementing a routine maintenance schedule that includes inspections and cleaning the pipes ensures the longevity of the system.
10. Incorrect Pipe Installation
The correct installation of sewer pipes is foundational to their functionality and longevity. Errors during the installation process, be it using incompatible materials, improper sealing of joints, or lack of appropriate grading, can lead to a host of issues. Misaligned pipes can create pockets where debris collects, leading to blockages. Faulty seals might result in leaks, contaminating the surrounding soil. Ensuring the installation follows best practices, adheres to local regulations, and perhaps most importantly, is undertaken by qualified professional plumbers is critical.
11. Ground Freezing and Thawing
When there are frigid temperatures, the freeze-thaw cycle presents a unique challenge to sewer infrastructure. As the ground freezes, it expands, exerting pressure on buried pipes. Subsequent thawing can shift the soil, misaligning the pipes. Over multiple seasons, this repeated stress can cause cracks, breaks, or joint failures. Insulating sewer lines, burying them below the frost line, or using flexible materials can offer some resilience against these challenges.
At TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing in Plainfield, IL, we provide toilet repairs, drain cleaning, and repairs for leaking pipes for your home in the area. Our friendly team also provides AC repair, ductless mini-splits, and heating services for homes in the region. Contact TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for more information today!