Epoxy Trenchless Cured In Place Old Sewer Line

Old Sewer Lines? Common Problems and Solutions

Old sewer lines, often hidden and forgotten beneath the ground, play an essential role in the infrastructure of any home or building. Over time, the aging sewer main can experience a host of issues that disrupt the flow of wastewater and, in some cases, pose a health hazard. Common problems with old sewer lines include clogs caused by tree roots, corrosion, and buildlt up debris.

Other factors may include ground shifting and poor initial installation, which can exacerbate these issues, leading to frequent backups and costly repairs. Understanding these common problems and exploring effective solutions is important for maintaining a functional and safe sewer system, providing the longevity and reliability of this important component of urban living.

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Tree Roots Often Go Undetected Until They Cause Serious Damage

Tree roots pose a considerable threat to the integrity and function of old sewer lines. As trees seek nutrients and water, their roots can infiltrate sewer pipes through tiny cracks or joints, often going undetected until they cause serious damage. Once inside, the roots expand and create blockages, reducing water flow and eventual backups. This often results in sewage overflowing into homes or yards, posing a health hazard.

Sometimes, the pressure exerted by growing roots can crack or break the pipes, resulting in expensive repairs or replacements. Preventative measures, such as regular inspections, can help, especially in older homes. Strategically placing trees away from sewer lines is important to mitigate these dangers and maintain a healthy plumbing system.

The Solution to Tree Root Intrusion

Dealing with tree roots in a sewer line requires a combination of immediate remediation and long-term prevention strategies. Here are some effective solutions:

1. Mechanical Removal

A plumber can use a specialized plumber snake to cut through and remove the roots from the sewer line. However, this is a temporary fix, as the roots will grow back. A plumber’s snake will not leave you with a smooth sewer line necessary for good water flow.

2. Chemical Treatment

Applying a root-killing chemical, such as copper sulfate or a foaming root killer, can help to kill the roots inside the pipe and slow their regrowth. This method needs to be repeated periodically to maintain its effectiveness.

3. Hydro Jetting

Hydro Jetting can clear roots and other debris from the sewer line, leaving your lines clean and smooth. While this method is effective for immediate removal, it is not a permanent solution.

4. Pipe Relining

A plumber may recommend relining the sewer pipe in cases of significant root intrusion. This process involves inserting a flexible liner coated with resin into the existing pipe, which then hardens to create a new, seamless pipe within the old one, effectively blocking root intrusion. This sewer line repair method is a permanent solution and could last 50 years or more.

5. Pipe Bursting

If the sewer line is extensively damaged, replacing the affected section of the pipe might be necessary. Pipe bursting is an innovative solution for repairing damaged old sewer lines without extensive excavation. This trenchless method involves pulling a new pipe through the old, damaged one while simultaneously fracturing the old pipe and pushing its fragments into the surrounding soil. A bursting head, attached to the new pipe, breaks apart the old pipe as it is pulled through. s is a more permanent solution but also more costly and disruptive. This process is a permanent solution for severely damaged old sewer lines. The line could last 50 years or longer.

6. Preventative Measures

To prevent future root intrusion, consider planting trees and shrubs away from sewer lines and using barriers to inhibit root growth. Regular inspections and maintenance can also help catch and address root problems early.

Implementing a combination of these solutions can help manage and prevent tree root intrusion in sewer lines, ensuring a more reliable and long-lasting sewer system.

Drain Cleaning

Accumulated Grease and Fat  

Pouring grease and fat down the drain is a common but hazardous practice that severely impairs water flow in old sewer lines. When hot, these substances may appear to flow smoothly, but as they cool, they solidify and adhere to the inner walls of pipes. Over time, this buildup narrows the passageway, reducing the flow of water and leading to blockages. These clogs can cause wastewater to back up into homes, creating unsanitary conditions and potentially exposing residents to harmful bacteria and contaminants.

Furthermore, accumulated grease and fat can combine with other debris, exacerbating the clog and making it more difficult to remove. Proper disposal of grease and fat is essential. Collecting it in a container and discarding it with household waste will prevent these problems in maintaining a functional and efficient sewer system.

Solution for a Grease-Filled Sewer Line

The best solution for a grease-clogged sewer line involves a combination of immediate clearing and preventive measures:

1. Hydro Jetting

High-pressure water jetting is one of the most effective methods for clearing grease clogs. This process involves using a powerful stream of water to break up and flush out the grease buildup, restoring the flow within the sewer line.

2. Preventive Practices

To avoid future clogs, it’s crucial to adopt preventive measures such as disposing of grease and fat in the trash instead of down the drain. Installing grease traps in kitchen sinks can also help capture grease before it enters the sewer system.

Sagging Sewer Line Known as a “Bellied Pipe”

A sagging sewer line, also known as a “bellied pipe,” is a common issue often caused by improper soil compaction, shifting soil, and even tree roots can be the culprit. Professional installers understand that proper bedding compaction, high-quality pipe materials, and correct slope angle are the most important factors in preventing the emergence of sewer line bellies.

This problem occurs when a section of the sewer pipe sinks due to shifting soil, ground movement, or the gradual weakening of the pipe material over time. As the pipe sags, it creates a low point where waste and debris can accumulate, leading to blockages and restricted flow. This pooling effect in the belly will cause slow-moving drains and wastewater to back up into homes, resulting in unpleasant odors, potential health hazards, and costly repairs.

Addressing a bellied pipe involves:

  • Identifying the sagging section.
  • Excavating the area.
  • Repairing or replacing the affected pipe to restore proper flow and functionality to the sewer system.

Plumbing camera inspection can detect and address this issue before it leads to more severe problems.

Bellied Old sewer line

Solution for a Bellied Sewer Line

Repairing a bellied sewer line or a sagging pipe requires a systematic approach to guarantee long-term effectiveness and stability. Here’s the best solution for addressing this issue:

1. Identify the Problem Area

The first step is a thorough sewer camera inspection to determine the exact position and extent of the sag in the pipe.

2. Excavation

Once the bellied section is identified, excavation is typically necessary. The ground above the affected pipe section is excavated to expose the sagging pipe.

3. Pipe Replacement or Realignment

The bellied section of the pipe is then removed and replaced with a new pipe. If the sag is minor and the pipe is still in good condition, it might be possible to realign the existing pipe, but replacement is often the most reliable solution.

4. Stabilizing the Trench

The trench bed where the new pipe is laid must be properly stabilized to prevent future sagging. This can involve adding a layer of gravel or another supportive material to create a stable base for the pipe.

5. Backfilling and Compaction

After the new pipe is installed and properly aligned, the trench is carefully backfilled and compacted in layers to provide solid support and prevent future ground movement that could lead to another sag.


Finally, the surface area, whether a lawn, driveway, or other surface, is restored to its original condition.

This comprehensive approach will guarantee that the sewer line is correctly realigned and stabilized, minimizing the risk of future bellied lines while maintaining the sewer system’s functionality. Regular inspections and maintenance can also help catch potential issues early and prevent important problems.

Pipe Corrosion Caused by Hard Water and Aging

Pipe corrosion in old sewer lines, often driven by hard water and the natural aging process, substantially threatens its function. Hard water, laden with high concentrations of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, accelerates the corrosion process by forming scale deposits on the interior surfaces of pipes. Over many years, these mineral deposits have created an abrasive condition on the sewer line, causing waste to get caught, eventually leading to a clogged sewer line.

Depending on the type of sewer line, its progressive deterioration can lead to cracks, leaks, and blockages, ultimately compromising the entire sewer system. Rust and other corrosive byproducts can further impede water flow and contribute to system failures.

Proactive pipe replacement is a critical strategy to mitigate the impact of pipe corrosion caused by hard water and aging, ensuring the continued reliability of sewer infrastructure.

Solution for an Aged Coroded Sewer Line

For an aged, corroded sewer line, the best solution often involves either pipe relining or pipe bursting, which are trenchless repair methods that minimize disruption and provide long-lasting results, as mentioned above.

Brandon and Family, Licensed plumbing contractor

Family Owned & Operated

My name is Brandon Mageno. I'm the founder, President, and CEO of Big B's Plumbing Company. As the founder, I never thought about being average or good. My passion for being the best plumbing company in Southern California has always been the same. Providing plumbing services to this great county is simply in my DNA. Nothing makes me happier than to see a satisfied customer. Learn More About Us

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