Sewer line repair: What you need to know

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Disruptions in your home's sewer system can cause major plumbing problems. Left untreated, a slow drainage...

Disruptions in your home's sewer system can cause major plumbing problems. Left untreated, a slow drainage issue may develop into a complete clog that affects every plumbing fixture in your home, resulting in situations that range from inconvenient to unsanitary. To determine the best course of action for sewer line repair, you must first identify and understand the cause of your sewer problem.

Causes of sewer line damage

Depending on your home's age, you may have clay sewer pipes. In houses built before the middle of the 1970s, clay was the material of choice for sewer lines. However, over time, this material is susceptible to tree roots, cracks and pressure. Any one of these elements can cause sewer line damage.

If your home has a large tree--or even if there is a neighboring tree close by, your clay pipes may have been invaded by tree roots. Trees seek out areas of moisture and nutrition, and the area where the ground was dug up to lay the clay pipes is the most susceptible place in your yard. While the clay pipes themselves are not the problem, their joints were probably sealed with cement, tar or rubber gaskets--materials that are weak enough to leak water. The leaking water beckons the roots to enter the pipes, and once inside, they form a network of roots. Over time, the roots will expand to the point where water cannot flow sufficiently through the pipes.

However, tree roots are not the only factor in sewer line damage. Using the sewer camera, the plumber may determine that a build-up of grease, other cooking debris or an unrelated foreign object is causing the blockage. In addition, water pressure problems or a deterioration of the pipes themselves may have caused cracking or breaking and warrant sewer line repair.

Sewer line damage solutions

A licensed Atlanta plumber can use a sewer camera to locate the obstruction or source of damage. If the problem is tree roots, the plumber can clear the drain by drilling a hole through the network of tree roots. However, with this option, it is possible that the root may close again over time, and you will have to face this problem again. That's why it is important to use a licensed plumber with a sewer camera that can pinpoint the network of roots--or other kind of obstruction--and ensure that it has been entirely removed, as opposed to relying on guesswork.

Another solution is to replace the clay pipes with PVC pipes, which are durable and resistant to tree roots. You may choose to only replace the damaged section of clay pipes or replace the entire sewer line.

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