Understanding Sewer Line Problems and Life Cycle

No homeowner in Hampton Roads, VA, wants to deal with dysfunctional plumbing, let alone an impending sewer line problem that leads to a plumbing emergency. Major plumbing problems along the main line can result in burst pipes, sewage backup, and costly repairs. They can also be a major inconvenience and disrupt normal living. Here, we look at the obvious signs of sewer problems and the overall sewer line life cycle.

Signs of Sewer Line Problems

Maybe you’re worried that your sewer line has a problem but don’t know the signs. If you notice one or more of the following signs, there’s a chance your sewer line has a problem.

Sewage Blockages 

Blockages and backups happen once in a while, but if the sewage backs up every time you flush your toilet, the problem could be the sewer line. Your home’s drains depend on the sewer line to drain. If the blockages affect multiple drains, the issue is definitely with the sewer line.

Pest Infestation 

A damaged sewer line can attract a number of unwanted pests into your home. Rats and crawling insects might squeeze through gaps and cracks on the sewer line and make their way into your plumbing system. Such pests might be harmful to your health. If you suspect there’s a pest invasion, contact your local plumber to perform a visual inspection of your line and to complete sewer line repair.

Foul Odors 

A functional sewer line is usually airtight, meaning no smell escapes the pipe. If a foul smell like rotten eggs or raw sewage starts emanating from your drain, it’s likely the main sewer line has a leak. A damaged rooftop vent stack might also contribute to the problem. The odor comes from the gases that are trapped in the drainpipes and leaching back into your house. Sewer gases can be dangerous as they contain hydrogen sulfide gas. Ask your plumber in Hampton Roads, VA, to inspect your vents and seals to determine the entry point of the gas.

Slow Drains 

Your home’s sewer line rarely gets clogged suddenly. Usually, the debris and scum that clog the line build up over time. The drains start emptying at a slower rate until they fail to drain wastewater at all. In severe cases, the drains back up so that the sewage comes right back up the drains into your home. To resolve the problem, a plumber will use a pipe camera to find the cause and the location of blockage that needs to be cleared. If the drains are all clear, the problem might be along the municipal sewer line.

Gurgling Drains 

While gurgling can occur in any drain around the house, you’ll first notice it in your toilet. You might hear the gurgling right after flushing the toilet or when the toilet hasn’t been in use for a while. Some gurgling might be accompanied by bubbles and the smell of raw sewage.

Gurgles are a sign of clogging along the drains, so you only have to clear them. However, it can also form on the main sewer line. No matter where the clog lies, you need to call your plumber to locate and clear it before your drains start backing up.

Green Lawn 

Another sign your home’s sewer line has a wet leak is a healthier, lush lawn. A section of grass may appear greener than others due to the puddles in your yard. In most cases, the lush grass stretches from your home to the street in a line, a sign that the line is failing. If the leak is severe, chances are the entire lawn may also get wet. A  timely sewer line repair or replacement  can help fix your ruptured sewer line or an active leak joint and stop water from collecting in your yard.

Pool of Septic Waste 

One obvious sign of a sewer line problem is raw sewage in your yard. You may clear the puddle of foul-smelling waste, but it keeps piling up. The problem could be a cracked main sewer line. Ask your plumber to camera check the line and perform the necessary sewer line repair.

Sewer Line Life Cycle

Your home’s sewer line is an integral part of your plumbing system, moving wastewater from every drain, appliance, and fixture inside the home. It usually lies buried under the soil and can last for between 50 to 100 years, depending on the material it’s made of and how it’s being used. It’s crucial for you as a homeowner to understand some of the factors that could affect your sewer line’s life expectancy and what to expect when the line reaches the end of its life cycle.

Most sewer lines in Hampton Roads, VA, are made of PVC that can last up to 100 years with good care. Cast iron pipes can serve you for 75 to 100 years. Prior to the 1980s, clay and cement pipes were common in new constructions. Orangeburg pipes were also used widely between 1860 and the 1970s but had a short life expectancy of 30 to 50 years.

Sewer Line Challenges

Your home’s sewer line will likely face a myriad of challenges during its lifetime. The first is the weight of the soil above your line. Excess weight can cause the pipe to collapse. Soil shifts due to erosion or drought might also dislocate the pipe, causing the wastewater to leak into the yard. Tree roots can also penetrate your pipe and cause a serious blockage, hurting your sewer line’s integrity. Over time, your line can also experience wear and tear due to overuse or misuse of your home’s plumbing system. Grease, fat, food particles, debris, and soap scum can build up inside your line and reduce its functional volume. This can lead to sewer backup or clog.

Best Material for Sewer Lines

We strongly recommend PVC for your new construction. PVC has a lower transportation carbon footprint per installed foot than clay, ductile iron, and concrete pipes. PVC is also 25 percent lighter than ductile iron weight per foot, meaning you can transport the pipe with a lower carbon footprint than ductile iron pipe of the same length.

Unlike iron and concrete pipes, PVC isn’t prone to corrosion or chemical oxidation. Both factors usually contribute to the risk of sewer line failure. The light weight and longevity of PVC pipes often lead to lower installation costs. A typical PVC line installation usually requires a smaller crew size and light equipment. With PVC, you also avoid traffic costs, related construction, and pipe replacements over its 100-year design life. Installing a PVC takes 30 percent less time than concrete pipes.

Professional Sewer Line Repairs

If you are experiencing any of the above sewer line problems, contact the plumbing experts at A1 Sewer & Drain for a sewer line inspection and repair quote. We can help you locate and clear blockages, perform timely repairs, and replace old or damaged sewer lines that are beyond repair.

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