Common Sewer Problems
As a company who, for over 35 years, has seen and worked on nearly every type of sewer line problem imaginable, we want to give some tips about the most common sewer problems you will run into as a homeowner. There are six main issues that are common to home sewer lines. For questions or more information, please email us at [email protected] or feel free to contact us.
A belly or low spot occurs when a part of the pipe sinks causing water and sediment to pool in a certain area. This makes it difficult for waste to pass through and causes stoppages and leaks. When this occurs, traditional open excavation must be used to correct the belly. Trenchless sewer repair cannot be used due to the fact that the pipe will simply follow the path of the previous sewer line and will belly as well.
If you live in a house that was built before 1980, chances are good that you have a clay sewer line. Clay sewer line, more formally known as vcp – vitreous clay pipe, comes in three or four foot sections which means numerous joints where roots can penetrate. These penetrations can completely stop the line and can also damage the sewer line. We at Apex replace the clay with an approved and much more durable plastic pipe, giving you confidence that you will never have to deal with tree roots again.
When sewer lines have joints, sometimes shifting may occur causing the two sections to not align correctly. This is called an offset. It causes stoppages and leaks. As with root penetration, our durable industry-standard plastic pipe has joints similar to water main piping in that they are built to not leak. A leaking sewer line attracts roots and can cause settling and offsets. A properly installed full line replacement will eliminate the potential for offsets.
Improperly installed pipe can settle causing bellies, can pull apart causing root and soil infiltration, and can leak causing structural and environmental problems. Use of proper materials and methods including proper pipe bedding and support along with approved materials and a professional installation will ensure a properly functioning sewer line for years to come.
Orangeburg pipe is bituminized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together. It was used from the 1860’s through the 1970’s. The name comes from Orangeburg, New York, the town where most Orangeburg pipe was manufactured. Orangeburg was a low cost alternate to vitreous clay for sewer lines in particular. Lack of strength causes these pipes to fail more frequently than pipes made with other materials. The usual life for Orangeburg pipe is about 50 years under ideal conditions, but has been known to fail in as little as 10 years.
Corrosion occurs in pipes made from cast iron after years of water, chemicals, and/or waste sitting inside the pipe. This can cause holes in the pipe or for an entire section to be corroded away. This can lead to severe leaking and stoppages and can make the line difficult, if not impossible, to clean as the drain cleaning cable can exit the pipe through these openings. Also, a condition known as “hot soil” can occur when certain soil types react to cast iron pipe and can eat through the pipe from the outside. This is why modern cast iron water main pipe installations require the pipe to be wrapped in plastic.