Lateral Sewer Line

Sewer Line Failures: Understanding the Common Reasons and How to Respond 

In the world of homeownership, the main sewer line plays a crucial role, linking our homes to the city’s sewer main. However, other homeowners will rely on a septic tank and leach lines for their sewage disposal, often found in more rural regions of the county. Whether referred to as a sewer line, sewer pipe, or sewer main, the integrity of this underground network is paramount. While it takes relatively little to disrupt its function, the consequences of sewer line failures can be devastating. From minor obstructions and invasive tree roots to the direst scenario of a fractured or collapsed sewer pipe, can lead to these issues. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind the failure of our sewer lines, exploring the potential sources of havoc they can unleash.

Big B's Plumbing - Your Plumber for Life!

Eventually, The Roots Can Block The Pipe Altogether

If there are trees in close proximity to your sewer line, it can put the line at risk of root intrusion. The slightest crack in the pipe can cause a tree root to penetrate the pipe and grow swiftly, living off the nutrients in the wastewater. Eventually, the roots can block the pipe altogether and cause the line to leak. In some cases, they become a catch-all for what’s flushed down the drain and will eventually cause our drain to clog.

The best solution for a tree root invasion is to have your pipe hydro jetted. This powerful machine can eliminate tree roots, leaving your drain sparkling clean. While it will remove them for some time, they will eventually return. You may need to consider a trenchless sewer line to seal the drain, leaving you with an epoxy sewer line lasting 50 years or longer.

Consult With a Professional Licensed Plumbing Contractor About a Bellied Sewer Line

A bellied sewer line refers to a section of the underground sewer pipe that has developed a sag or depression, usually due to soil erosion or settling beneath the pipe. This dip in the sewer line creates a low point where waste and water can accumulate, leading to blockages and potential backups in the system. Bellied sewer lines are concerning because they disrupt the smooth flow of sewage, increasing the risk of clogs, backups, and sewage leaks into the surrounding soil.

The Repairs Will Depend on The Severity of The Bellied Line

There are a few options available to repair a bellied sewer line. One common approach is trenchless pipe lining, where a new lining is inserted into the existing pipe, effectively sealing off the bellied section and restoring the pipe’s integrity. Another method involves excavation, where the affected portion of the pipe is dug up and replaced with a new section. The choice between these methods often depends on the severity of the bellied section, accessibility, and budget constraints. It’s essential to consult with a professional licensed plumbing contractor who staffs a sewer technician to assess the extent of the issue and determine the most suitable repair solution.

Chemical Reactions Typically Cause Corroded Sewer Lines

A corroded sewer line can wreak havoc on a property’s plumbing system and the environment. Over time, corrosion, typically caused by chemical reactions, can deteriorate the integrity of the sewer line, leading to leaks, cracks, or even full pipe failure. When this happens, raw sewage can escape into the surrounding soil, posing health hazards and potentially contaminating groundwater. Additionally, the reduced flow capacity due to corrosion can lead to frequent clogs and backups in the sewer system, causing inconvenience and costly repairs for homeowners.

There are several repair options available to address a corroded sewer line. One common method is pipe relining, where a new lining is inserted into the existing pipe, sealing off the corroded areas and preventing further deterioration. Another approach is replacing the sewer line’s corroded section with new piping. The choice of repair method depends on the extent of corrosion, the pipe’s material, and budget considerations. It’s crucial to engage the expertise of a professional plumbing company to assess the severity of the corrosion and recommend the most appropriate solution to mitigate the havoc caused by a corroded sewer line.

Sewer Lines Fail Because Of an Obstruction

Sewer line failures often occur due to obstructions in the system. Over time, our sewer mains can accumulate residue, including food grease and sludge, which can lead to drain backups. The condition of our drains is often determined by what we dispose of through them. Additionally, plumbers frequently receive calls when objects like stuffed animals get flushed down the toilet, typically resulting from unsupervised children’s curiosity. To prevent such incidents, many parents use toilet safety seat locks to secure toilet lids and avoid potential blockages.

Sewage Backup from tree roots. Tree roots in your sewer line.

Sewer Lines Fail When They Become Old

Old age can also be the reason for a failing sewer line. Decades of soil shifting and harsh conditions can cause a sewer pipe to crack or break. If you’re seeing lush green spots on your grass or smelling raw sewage, then it’s time to have a camera inspection of your pipes. Your plumbing professional can complete a camera inspection of your pipes and determine the problem. 

Never flush or pour the following down your drain:

  • Feminine Products
  • Cooking Grease/Food
  • Baby Wipes/Wet Wipes/Cleaning Pads
  • Dental Floss
  • Q-tips/Cotton Balls
  • Diapers
  • Pills
  • Paper Towels/Tissues
  • Cigarette Butts

Little actions can extend the life of your sewer line, such as the few extra minutes it takes to scrape your dishes before rinsing. For peels and vegetable scraps, consider a composter. You can use the compost as fertilizer for the garden, trees, and shrubs.

The Steps to Recovering Your Sewer Line

The first step in clearing and diagnosing a sewer line is to clear it. A powerful auger, also known as a plumber’s snake, can handle most clogs, including those in your sewer mains. Your plumber’s snake is more advanced and more powerful than in past years. Without question, since 1933 when, Sam Blanc invented the first electric snake. Drain snakes became one of a plumber’s toolbox’s most reliable tools. If the drain snake does not clear the drain or leaves the homeowner uneasy about their sewer line, then we move on to step two.

First Hand Sewer Camera Inspection Footage

If you frequently encounter drainage issues in your home or business, opting for a sewer camera inspection is advisable. This inspection involves using a specialized camera to delve into your sewer line, allowing experts to identify the root cause of the problem. In most instances, you’ll receive a copy of the sewer camera inspection footage on a DVD, which can be instrumental in understanding the issue and making informed decisions about necessary repairs or maintenance. 

Sewer Line Camera Inspection

Sewer Drain Cleaning Cameras

One of the most important advances in sewer drain cleaning technology is using camera inspections to find the exact location of a clog quickly. Camera inspections include a small camera attached to the end of a flexible cable that moves through the drain. The technician watches from a monitor that shows where the clog is located. The picture provides a great deal of other important information as well, such as what the drain is made of and what tools will be needed to clear the clog or repair the drain pipe.

The Cleaning May Reveals a Cracked or Broken Sewer line

Step three includes hydro jetting your drains. No drain repair is complete without hydro jetting. This powerful method of drain cleaning will clear everything in its path, including tree roots. It not only clears the drain but cleans it as well. It’s an open canvas for making the right sewer line repairs. Sometimes, the line is just clogged and needs cleaning. But there are other times when the cleaning reveals a cracked or broken line.

Big B’s Plumbing Regular Maintenance, Professional Inspections

The issues surrounding failing sewer lines can be a source of significant disruption and inconvenience for homeowners and businesses alike. Understanding the common reasons behind these failures, such as obstructions, corrosion, and bellied pipes, is crucial in effectively preventing and addressing these problems. Regular maintenance, professional inspections, and timely repairs are essential for the continued functionality of sewer systems, safeguarding both public health and the environment. By staying informed and proactive, property owners can minimize the havoc caused by failing sewer lines and maintain the smooth operation of their plumbing systems.

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What People Are Saying...

I called Big B's Plumbing because I the hot water would not turn off in our master bathroom. I tried to turn the valve off under the sink and it broke off, so I had to shut off the main water to the house. It was noticeable the valves were original to the home. When I called, the rep stated that I would be informed about the service tech and their experience along with services offered "On The Spot". I was on a bit of a time crunch...
Read More on Google My Business


Vill M

Found them on Google and they had good quality reviews. Made the call and set up the appointment for same day. Dispatch called me a few hours later to confirm our appointment and let me know that the technician Mathew was on the way. This was supposed to be an easy job once Mathew arrived. But it turned out to be so much more than that. Without hesitation or a sour look on his face, he dove deep into his van...
Read More on Google My Business


Jeremy T

Randy was very knowledgeable and professional. He helped us figure out what we could do with the space given for our bathroom with our remodel. He picked out perfect fixtures and the work he did was beautiful. The cleaned up properly when they were done and everything was handled in one day! I will be calling for Randy anytime we have any plumbing needs. Thank you for doing such a great job!
Read More on Google My Business


Crystal M

Call Today!
Your Plumber For Life!

Contractors License #986152

Scroll to Top