Your Sewer System’s Five Worst Enemies

Without your sewer line, the water and waste that you push down the drain would have nowhere to go. You’d have no connection to your main sewer line or to your septic tank system, and before long that would really become quite a mess. That’s why you should take great care to ensure that your sewer line is maintained and in good condition.

However, your sewer line also has a number of natural enemies that it has to deal with on a daily basis. These enemies both inhibit it from working properly and even wear it out to the point where you’ll need significant repairs or even a total replacement, including the possibility that you’ll have to dig up your property in order to extract your old line and install a new one. To help you avoid these enemies, this blog will take a closer look at five of them and discuss what they do to your line and how you can make sure your sewer line can continue to stay healthy in spite of them.

Corrosion & Rust

The majority of sewer lines are built out of galvanized steel or even cast iron because these metals are readily available, inexpensive, and generally resistant to impact and a lot of the other issues that could plague your sewer line. However, these metallic materials are also prone to corrosion and rusting. Because they react with oxygen, they can corrode and fall apart, causing scale, thin spots, cracks, leaks, and even complete wearing away as the years go by.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent these materials from rusting and corroding. It’s a natural process that occurs over time, and nearly anything and everything that goes down your drain likely has some form of oxygen in it. However, you can prevent your sewer line from corroding any faster than necessary by avoiding using particularly corrosive materials. Avoid using any liquid drain cleaners to remove clogs in addition to avoiding putting any strong acids or bases down the drain. These substances often amplify this reaction, causing even more damage at a far faster rate.

Ground Settling & Shifting

The ground around your sewer line isn’t always steady and unmoving, especially here in California. Earthquakes, aftershocks, and even just general soil movement and settling are all common, and all of them could cause the ground beneath your home to shift. When you have a large, solid sewer line, any shifting could cause a problem. In some instances, this could lead to an improper slope and water and waste not having the momentum need to clear out of your line. In other cases, this could cause the line to bend, sag, crack, or even break completely and spill sewage out into the soil beneath your property.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can really do to prevent this either, nor predict it for that matter. However, you can be proactive about getting your sewer line checked and fixed. Have your line inspected at least every two years and call a sewer specialist right away if you notice any potential signs that you may have an issue, such as excessive water in your yard above where the sewer line runs.

Sticky & Clogging Waste

While your sewer line is designed to handle the waste and wastewater your home produces, it can’t handle all types of waste. Sticky waste, including fats, oils, or even solid waste like shells and strings can all quickly build up into a nasty clog that’s difficult to remove. To make matters worse, this waste can cause a backup in your drains that backs up your drains and even could send raw sewage back up your sewer line into your home. It’s not a fun problem to deal with when all you want is a toilet that flushes and sinks that drain smoothly.

Be careful what you put down the drain. Don’t go overboard with toilet paper and install a hair catcher over your bathtub or shower drain. Be particularly careful with your garbage disposal: avoid putting starchy foods, fatty foods, stringy foods, shells, breads, and other potentially sticky clog-causers down the drain and your sewer line will thank you.

Tree Roots

Tree roots and sewer lines have a love-hate relationship. Tree roots love sewer lines because they’re both full of water and waste that acts as a fertilizer. Sewer lines hate tree roots because they can get into lines through even the smallest, tiniest of cracks, and then grow and swell up to a massive size that completely closes off the sewer line after a while. Tree root problems can be immensely frustrating for homeowners and difficult to resolve. While a rooter service can tear apart the root and remove it from your line, the root can always come back unless it’s removed completely. This may involve replacing all or part of your sewer line and some substantial grooming of what may be a large and complex root structure around your sewer line.

Small Animals

Believe it or not, burrowing animals have been known to cause tremendous damage to sewer lines. Groundhogs, snakes, and other critters (including iguanas in Florida) can find their way into your line where they take up residence or become lost and can’t get out again. It’s not uncommon for them to die in there and cause a jam that’s difficult and extremely unpleasant to remove. Keeping animals out of your sewer line isn’t entirely easy either—you need an open sewer line in order to allow waste to pass, but this also means animals may find their way in. However, making sure you keep your plumbing system clean will hopefully keep any incentive for animals to take up residence in your sewer line away.

If you’ve got a problem with your sewer line, John Owens Services is here to help! Get it inspected and repaired by calling us at (415) 942-6565 today.