Sewers keep our homes and neighborhoods clean and sanitary. Good quality sewer pipes can last decades but are not immune to cracking and breaking. Like other household systems, sewers are vulnerable to damage which, in the long run, can cause costly repairs. Several factors can contribute to sewer line damage over time, and it’s vital to educate yourself on the causes so that you can take action before it’s too late. Below are 11 factors that might contribute to sewer pipe damage.
1. Improper Installation
Most piping systems require a downward slope for water to drain out properly. If a sewer pipe is not installed correctly, this can cause wastewater to back up in other areas of the sewer line, leading to pressure buildup and potential cracking.
In addition, improper installation can lead to debris buildup in the line. This buildup can cause clogs that later contribute to the cracking of pipes.
Poor installation techniques, such as insufficient couplings or improper welding, significantly damage sewer lines. Couplings enhance the strength of the pipe and prevent breakage, while welding reduces the risk of leaks.
2. Tree Root Intrusion
Trees thrive on moisture, so their roots naturally grow toward a water source like sewer pipes. They wrap around the sewer pipes and grow into them, resulting in cracks. This can be especially destructive during droughts. When the environment is excessively dry, the tree roots search for water and create intrusive pathways within the pipes. As the roots grow, they crack the pipes and block the water from flowing freely, which can cause a backup and further breakage.
3. Age of the Pipes
Age is another major factor that can result in cracks in your sewer lines. As piping material ages, it becomes brittle, weak, and more prone to breaking under pressure or weight. If you live in an older home, its sewage system may be outdated and more susceptible to damage than you realize.
4. External Pressure or Weight
Heavyweights on the ground, such as vehicles and large structures, can put pressure on a sewer line and cause it to crack The additional weight of things like swimming pools, decks, and patios can strain the sewer system. These constructions should be built at least five feet away from the sewer pipe to reduce the chances of breakage.
The material used to make sewer lines has evolved from clay pipes to cast iron and now PVC (polyvinyl chloride). All of these materials are susceptible to corrosion due to external factors such as high acidity levels in the soil or water.
Using harsh chemicals to unclog drains or flush sewage may eventually lead to pipe corrosion and crack development. These chemicals are strong enough to dissolve any material within the pipeline and corrode metal, plastic, or clay pipes over time, leading to crack development and breakage of sewer lines.
6. Extreme Temperatures
When the temperatures are high, the pipes expand; when they are cold, they contract. This expansion and contraction can cause stress on the pipeline, leading to cracks over time. The risk of pipe damage from temperature fluctuations is especially high in areas that experience extreme temperature changes throughout the year.
7. Poor Maintenance Practices
Regular inspection and maintenance are essential for a healthy sewer line system, but these tasks are often overlooked until it is too late. Minor problems can quickly become significant without proper care if they remain unresolved. Maintenance practices for sewers entail checking for clogs, leaks, blockages, corrosion, and other issues that can compromise the integrity of the piping system. Regularly scheduled sewage inspections by a licensed plumber can detect potential problems and allow for repairs before further damage occurs.
8. Pouring Grease and Debris Down the Drain
When they cool, grease, oils, and fats stick to the inner lining of sewage pipes, forming clogs that make it difficult for water to pass through. The same situation happens with food particles and other debris, such as cotton swabs. These clogs cause backups, putting pressure on the sewer line and leading to cracks and breakage. It is important to never put anything down your drain besides water and toilet paper to reduce the risk of a break in your sewer lines.
9. Pipe Settlement
Have you heard about ground shifting? It can occur due to earthquakes, landslides, and soil erosion. This shifting or settling of the ground can strain sewer lines and cause them to bend, crack, and break. Such changes can also cause pipes to sink into the ground or create a downhill slope in the wrong direction. This leads to waste accumulation at the lower part of the sewer line, eventually causing breakage. Damage caused by such occurrences is challenging to repair because it requires excavation to fix or replace the broken pipe.
10. Rodent Infestation
Rodents or other pests, like snakes and frogs, can infest sewer lines in search of food and water. They burrow into the pipe system and create holes that allow water to leak out, leading to pipeline cracks. Additionally, they can cause blockages with their wastes and the remains of their food, putting extra pressure on the piping system and leading to breakage. It is essential to take preventive measures such as rodent-proofing your home and checking the sewer line regularly for signs of infestation.
11. Material of Pipes
Some materials used to make sewer lines are more prone to cracking and breakage than others. Ceramic pipes, for example, become brittle over time due to age and tend to crack easily if left unmaintained. Plastic pipes are susceptible to UV radiation damage under sun exposure and can break easily due to the extreme temperatures they may experience. On the other hand, cast iron pipes corrode faster than other materials, leading to cracks and breakages in the pipeline. Selecting the most appropriate material for your sewer line and inspecting it regularly to ensure its longevity is important to the health of your sewer system.
A sewer line is essential for every home to dispose of wastewater. Unfortunately, they are the least visible part of the plumbing system, so they are often neglected until a problem occurs. Sewer lines are prone to damage due to the various factors outlined above, so proper maintenance requires professional plumbers and regular inspections. Ignoring these issues can cause costly repairs or even complete replacement of the sewer line system. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the things that can go wrong so that you can take necessary prevention measures and avoid costly damages in the future.
At On Time Experts, we offer professional plumbing services for residents of Dallas, TX and the surrounding areas. You can contact us to install or repair your sewer lines, unclog drains, and incorporate water filtration systems into your home. We also offer complete HVAC services and air purification systems. Contact On Time Experts today for more information or to schedule an appointment.