Finishing Your Basement

2 Reasons Your Sewer Line Isn't Draining Properly

After experiencing slow drainage throughout your home, you decided to snake your drains and use a fast-acting drain cleaning agent. However, your drainage problem still hasn't been fixed. Additionally, you've noticed water backing up into your basement, damp areas of your yard, and strange odors around your property. The combination of these symptoms indicates your sewer line has sustained damage or developed a serious clog. Here are the two most common problems residential sewer lines develop and how to prevent them from happening in the future:

Collapsed Line  

The terrain surrounding your sewer line isn't stationary. Rather, it slowly shifts around as it's subjected to heavy traffic and tectonic plate movements. When the terrain shifts, it can destabilize your sewer line and cause sections of it to fall out of line.

A destabilized line is prone to collapsing. If your line has collapsed, then its carefully-designed linear slope towards your neighborhood's sewer system will become misaligned. As a result, your plumbing system will be unable to drain properly and become prone to developing serious clogs.

However, a collapse in your sewer line won't only cause poor drainage—it will also damage the various joints that connect the pipes along your line. As the joints connecting your line become warped or cracked, the collapsed section of your line will begin to leak.

A collapsed line must be excavated and all damaged pipes and joints must be replaced. To prevent your line from collapsing after you've arranged for the necessary repairs, your plumber must add extra sewer line supports to maintain the steady slope of your line. Additionally, to minimize terrain movement around your line, your plumber will thoroughly compact the soil around your line before backfilling the area and calling it a day.

Burst Pipe

A burst pipe will cause immediate and obvious drainage issues. These three issues will cause one of your sewer pipes to burst:

  • Frozen Sewage

    • The sewage flowing through your line is susceptible to freezing if your line was constructed above the frost line. Pipes and water above the frost line will freeze and eventually burst from internal pressure.

    • If your line is currently above the frost line, then it must be disassembled and reconstructed at a further depth.

  • Corrosion

    • Water that flows through your plumbing contains minerals. Minerals like calcium and limestone will corrode metal pipes and eventually cause them to fail. The lifespan of a metal sewer line is severely affected by the mineral content and acidity of your local water supply.

    • Installing a water softener will prevent corrosive minerals from destroying your sewer line.

  • Incorrect Pipe Material

    • Clay, galvanized steel, and PVC are the three most common pipe materials used for sewer lines. However, each of these pipes should only be used in certain situations. For example, galvanized steel should be used if the terrain surrounding your line is likely to experience a great amount of movement. If PVC or clay pipes were used in lieu of galvanized steel, then they are far more likely to burst from external terrain pressure.

    • Repiping your line with the most appropriate material for your property and water composition is the best solution to this problem.

A burst pipe can be repaired multiple ways depending on the extent of the damage. If the burst section of pipe is fairly small, then it can be repaired with a pipe clamp. If the damage is too significant to be repaired by a clamp, then the damaged section of piping must either be replaced or relined with a cured-in-place pipe (or CIPP).

Armed with this knowledge, you can now easily determine the cause of your sewer line drainage problems and the plan of action that must be performed to get your plumbing system back to normal. If you're unable to perform the repairs that are necessary for fixing your line's existing damage, then hire your local plumber to take care of the job.

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