Understanding Sewer Line Issues and Repair Options
While sewer issues are rare, they certainly do occur. And when that happens you want them fixed ASAP, as sewer line issues can significantly damage your home and property as well as threaten the very health of you and your family.
With that in mind, let’s look at what you need to know about sewer line issues, sewer line repair, sewer line replacement – and who you can depend on to handle these issues in the Atlanta area.
Understand that sewer lines are a combination of all household drains that meet beneath your home in the main drain, which carries that wastewater away from your home. If you live in the Atlanta area, that wastewater likely goes to a wastewater treatment facility. (However, there are still several homes in the outlying Atlanta area that utilize septic tanks, which are housed on the property, underground. Conditioned Air Systems also repairs and drains septic tanks.)
The other key factor to know is that, unless you have experience with wastewater, it’s better to leave sewer line repair to a professional – due to the delicate nature and health concerns that could stem from sewage leaks.
Sewer Systems Wear Out Over Time
Like all facets of plumbing, sewer lines will wear out over time.
The good news is that sewer lines are designed to last a very long time. In fact, a normal sewer line – which could be made of various materials – should last 50-100 years without problem. However, there are other factors that can lead to sewer line replacement or repair before time has its say. Factors such as how the pipe was originally installed, what’s happened to the ground in which its buried, pipes inside your home, what you put in those pipes, and what surrounds the sewer all play a critical role in the life of your sewer line.
Vigilance is the key to ensuring that you don’t require catastrophic sewer line repair and replacement – and that, if you do, you avoid possible health problems because of sewer line damage.
Signs of Sewer Line Damage
Should your sewer line fail, it will display several tattletale signs. However, because sewer lines are buried underground, it can sometimes be difficult for a homeowner to spot these problems. But, if you know what to look for, you may be able to catch any sewage concern before it becomes a disaster.
The following are symptoms of sewer lines that require replacement or repair.
Sewage lines collect all the wastewater from your home – think about all that water and what goes into it: food, grease, hair, and human waste, amongst several other things. It’s a lot to push through a pipe, but they can handle an amazing amount of work.
But if you notice that your drains are starting to slow – and stay that way – contact a professional right away. They will have detection tools, such as camera-equipped snakes, to find the source of the problem and determine the right type of sewer pipe repair.
Blockages and Backups
Clogged pipes happen. It’s a fact of plumbing. If you notice a one-time clog, it is not necessarily a sign of a sewage line concern. It may just be a single clog that requires unblocking. But if removing the clog does not solve the problem – or you begin to have continuous clogs throughout your home, it is certainly possible that you have a larger sewer line concern.
In severe cases, raw sewage will even back up inside drains. Commonly, this is what happens when you flush a toilet and sewage suddenly backs up into the bathtub or shower drain. If this EVER happens, contact a plumber immediately. Raw sewage is a health hazard and can quickly cause extensive property damage.
And if you are facing multiple clogs at the same time, that likely indicates a main sewer line problem.
Flooded or Foul-Smelling Yard
Sewer lines lead from underneath your home into your yard (underground). So, if one of those lines becomes compromised in the ground and you have broken pipes, it may begin to leak out into your yard.
When this happens, you will likely see puddles or ponds in your yard – and it will usually be accompanied by an awful smell. Remember, this is sewage we’re talking about. So, if you notice this, call a professional immediately – and do not touch or allow your family or pets to get into this water. Sewer line repair requires caution and experience so that you do not make a bad experience worse.
Foundation Cracks, Sinkholes and Settlements
A visible cracking in a home’s foundation is one of the most common signs of a broken sewer or drain line.
That is because, when a main sewer line is cracked, the leaking water saturates the soil around it, eventually causing that soil to sag and dip. If this happens near your home and is left unaddressed, it leads to sagging and shifting concrete – which is an even bigger hassle than repairs required to fix a broken sewer line.
Water Damage in the Home
If a sewage line breaks inside your home, you will likely notice a smell or witness standing water. However, because of how sewage lines are hidden within your home, it could take some time for those factors to make themselves known.
In the meantime, you should always be on the lookout for signs of water damage, including evidence of mold or mildew.
Problems Can Be Hard to Locate
Because of the way sewage and drain lines are structured in your home – underneath floors, inside walls, in basements and crawlspaces, and underneath your lawn – it is not always easy to see the state of your sewage lines.
The good news is that – if you do notice any of the above signs of damage – a professional plumber has many tools, including cutting-edge cameras that can inspect every detail (even sewage pipe lining), that can help determine the site and source of even the smallest sewer line failure.
What Causes Sewer Lines to Break?
Sewage lines are constructed to last, but that does not mean that outside factors cannot intervene and make for a real problem. There are several things to be aware of when it comes to the health and state of your sewer lines – some of which are out of your control but many that are.
Because of being underground, tree roots are often enemy No. 1 to the state of your sewer lines. Tree and plant roots can slowly push and grind against sewer lines, causing breaches and holes, simply by pushing the pipe out of position and damaging joints. So if you have an abundance of trees in your yard, beware of where they are located and know that their root structure can create severe problems for your plumbing. One of the great things about living in the Atlanta area is the trees and plants we have in our yards, but beware that they can also lead to problems with your sewer pipes. In fact, that’s one of the reasons Atlanta sewer repair is common.
Old Pipe Corrosion
As we’ve said, sewer lines are built to last. In fact, sewer lines are made of materials that can function for decades:
- Cast iron pipes last between 75–100 years
- Clay and cement pipes can last up to 100 years
- PVC pipes can last over 100 years
However, not all pipes are equal, and even the best materials corrode through use. So, if you live in an older home or move into an older home, it is best to have a plumber come out and inspect your pipes every few years. These inspections may save you serious heartache in repair bills down the road.
Severe Clogs and Blockages
Just like any pipe a severe clog or blockage in your sewer line can create a massive pressure build up that, over time, can cause that pipe to fail – either at a joint or seal.
That is why it is imperative that you have any severe clogs or blockages in your sewer line addressed by a professional as soon as possible.
If you are undertaking any sort of change in your lawn or garden – or have to have heavy equipment drive across your property – beware if it occurs anywhere near your sewer lines.
That is because increased traffic, changes, or sudden heavy weights can cause the ground to settle around buried sewer lines. When that occurs, there is a chance any sewer lines underneath could be compromised and leak or break.
Sometimes, soil shifts on its own (due to weather, such as increased or decreased rainfall, or plant life), but make sure you do all you can to limit any changes you can control around where sewer lines are buried in your yard. (If your lines are not marked, ask your municipality to come out and survey for them.)
How to Protect Your Sewer Lines
There are plenty of things you can do to help prolong the life and full functionality of your sewer lines. These include:
- Only flush what you’re supposed to
Never flush anything down a toilet besides human waste and toilet paper. Feminine hygiene products, diapers, wipes, and other paper items can easily clog pipes and lead to serious plumbing problems.
- Avoid putting food, oils, and other things in your drains
Plumbers will tell you that most of the problems they face come from people putting things down their drains that don’t belong. Try your best to avoid putting food waste down your drains, as this is a major factor in sewage line blockages. Also, harsh chemicals can weaken pipes and drains and should be avoided.
- Have inspections done every few years
Having a professional plumber come to your home and do a full inspection of your pipes and sewer lines can save you plenty of money and heartache, as it can allow you to avoid breakdowns of the system.
Certain Problems Cannot Be Fixed
The harsh truth is that there are some plumbing problems that cannot be foreseen or avoided. Luckily, these types of problems don’t happen very often. But when they do, understand that it’s best to just replace your plumbing, rather than trying to fix it.
This is especially true when it comes to sewer line breakdowns. If and when your sewer line fails, plan on having the broken parts replaced, rather than repaired. There are septic line repair options, but only a professional plumber can safely assess the situation and determine the right types of replacement and sewer pipe needed in each instance.
Call A Professional Plumber for Sewer Line Issues
If and when sewer lines fail in your home, you want to know that the plumber you call will be there ASAP, be professional, and get you completely fixed. At Conditioned Air Systems, our dedicated and experienced plumbers are dedicated to providing top-quality work at prices that won’t break your budget – and won’t have you calling us back out to fix it again.
Just like our HVAC services, we offer 24/7 and emergency plumbing services to attend to your every need – which offers a huge piece of mine should you encounter sewage line failures. Atlanta sewer line repair can be tricky, but we excel at it. We even offer trenchless sewer line replacement and trenchless sewer line repairs for those clients who meet the right criteria.
If you find yourself battling sewage line problems in the Atlanta area, please contact us right away at 770-536-7509 and let us determine whether repair or replacement is the right choice for your sewer pipe. Our sewer line services are the answer to your sewer problem.