Do I Have to Replace my Sewer?

At some point, all sewer lines need to be repaired or replaced, particularly in homes built during the 1970’s or earlier.  The fact is that the older your pipes are, the more likely it is that you will have problems with them.  Sewer pipes/lines in older homes are usually made of clay tiles that can crack or break apart, allowing tree roots to infiltrate the pipe and create clogs.  There are two basic types of materials that were used to create sewer lines.  Prior to 1980 clay pipes were used.  After 1980 PVC pipe was/is used.

Clay sewer pipes can typically last for 50 to 60 years.  PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe was designed to last for longer periods of time, typically over 100 years.

 How do I Know if my Sewer Line is in Bad Shape and Needs to be Replaced?

Sewer lines are not something that most people think about until something goes wrong.  If that happens, you can have a real mess on your hands.  Most likely though, you’ll know if your sewer line needs to be replaced in advance of a catastrophe if you pay attention to the warning signs.  Some of the early signs of sewer line problems include gurgling noises coming from the toilet, water that drains slower than normal, water backing up in the bathtub or in your basement, or if you notice weird sewage smells coming from a drain in your home (especially if the drain is making a “gurgling” sound).

As pipes age, both clay and PVC, they may become cracked or damaged.  As a result, the substances that flow through them will begin seeping to the top of the ground.  This is a classic indication that it is time to replace or re-line the sewer lines for your home.

Is there is a foul or strange odor in your yard? Or has a smelly, wet sinkhole suddenly appeared? Have you begun to notice that patches of your yard are always wet regardless of the weather? These are all signs that you might need to have your sewer line replaced.

Sewer pipes can also become clogged from an accumulation of muck, grease, and other material that gets washed down your drains day after day.  Sometimes sewer lines will collapse, break, or simply rot away.  Tree roots can do a lot to exacerbate this process.  Problems can also result from pipe sections that have settled or collapsed.

Here are Some Tips to Help Keep your Sewer Line in Good Shape:

  • Find out where your sewer line is located. This can help you make decisions about landscaping and parking.
  • Don’t plant trees or shrubs near your sewer line because the roots will eventually seek out the moisture in the line.
  • Do not park a vehicle directly over your sewer line because the weight and pressure of the vehicle could weaken the pipe below and eventually crush it.
  • Don’t flush anything down the toilet that is not toilet paper or human waste.  Use the trash can instead of the toilet for disposing of any other items in your bathroom.
  • Never pour grease down a drain because it can clog pipes. Pour it into a can to let it cool and then dispose of it in the trash.

What About Patching?

Oftentimes homeowners wonder if they can simply patch their existing pipes instead of opting for replacing them.  If the sewer line is old then there will most likely be other bad spots that will give you problems in the near future.  The cost of a series of patch jobs can add up quickly and in the long run, it usually makes more sense to replace the entire line.  That way you can save money over time and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your sewer line will remain in good repair for years to come.

A sure-fire way to determine if you need to have sewer line repair or replacement is to pay to have a plumber run a camera down into the sewer line.  A video of the inside of your sewer will give you a good account of the condition of your sewer line before you have a crisis on your hands.  That way you will know if you have any impending problems.

In some cases, you can repair the sewer line using a trench-less sewer repair process. However, if the damage is too extensive, it may be more economical to replace the entire sewer line.  While this can be a costly expense, it will not be anything compared to the cost you will incur if the sewer line backs up into your home.

If a Sewer Line Replacement is not in my Budget, can Root Killer do Anything to Help?

Yes.  Tree roots often invade and clog broken sewer lines.  Tree roots cause some of the most common problems that lead people to have to replace their sewer lines.  Since they love the constant source of moisture, tree roots will often invade broken sewer pipes. They will continue to grow until they completely clog the broken sewer lines.  Copper sulfate is often the main ingredient used to treat weed growth in ponds. Copper sulfate also prevents algae growth in lakes.  Experts say copper sulfate, available from plumbers and garden centers, repels roots.  While this may only be a temporary fix, it can buy time before more extensive work may be required.  Keep in mind, however, that even though copper sulfate can repel roots as a temporary fix, it can also damage, or even kill the tree.

Using root killer is also an effective way to prevent roots from growing in your sewer line.  It typically won’t kill large roots that have already been growing in the line. But it’s a great way to provide preventative maintenance for your sewer line.  If the copper sulfate does not work, and you have a sewer line “clean-out”,  it can provide an access point to your line so you can snake it out and break up any smaller roots and/or debris in the line.

However, you should also be aware that running a snake through your sewer line to clear out the tree roots, sometimes, may do additional damage to the line itself.

Remember, We’re Here to Help

In conclusion, most often the responsibility to pay for sewer line repair or replacement falls on homeowners. And it can be costly.  However, replacing or repairing sewer lines is definitely not a do-it-yourself home repair.  It is extremely labor intensive. And if you don’t know what you are doing, you can do some serious damage.  Don’t trust your home’s sewer line to just anyone.  Hire a plumbing company you can depend on to get the job done right.  At Proudfoot Plumbing, Heating & Air, we have made it our mission to provide excellent service that leads to the highest levels of customer satisfaction.  Please give us a call at 1-412-461-2198. In a hurray – contact us – electronically. We will be glad repair or install your sewer line!

Image Credit – Adobe Stock

Schedule Service

At Proudfoot Plumbing, Heating, and Air, we are here to help you and are happy to process your scheduling request by email if that is your preference. Please indicate what service area you require in your request, and we will get back to you within one business day of receiving it.

Contact Us from Proudfoot Plumbing