Common Causes of Sewer Line Damage


Your home’s sewer line is an integral component of its plumbing system, and when damaged, it could result in a backup of sewage into your home and damage to property.

Today’s post will cover common sources of sewer line damage with some tips for how to prevent them.

Safeguarding your home against sewer line damage is a smart move — for insights into dealing with tree roots, check out Plumb-Tech’s post here.

Tree root infiltration

Tree roots are one of the most common culprits of sewer line damage. Roots thrive on moisture; a leaky or cracked sewer line is an ideal lure. Tree roots will wiggle through cracks or weak points and begin growing their way along their entirety.

Professional plumbers can assist in pinpointing the source of your sewer line problems and taking appropriate measures to address them. In minor instances, a drill might suffice for clearing away roots while checking that the line remains undamaged, but for more serious damage, a replacement might be required altogether.

Homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover damages caused by tree root infiltration, though you may be able to add this coverage if necessary. If you suspect roots have pervaded your sewer line, contact a plumber as soon as possible for help; professional plumbers will inspect the system and recommend an effective plan for clearing or replacing affected pipes.

Pipe corrosion

At the core of sewer line damage lies aging pipes made up of different materials like PVC, clay, cast iron and Orangeburg (compressed tar paper used during World War II).

Unfortunately, these were never meant to last forever and — over time — may corrode due to hydrogen sulfide gas produced when bacteria break down waste, infiltrating into their walls and eventually collapsing your sewer line entirely.

Older pipes may also be susceptible to cracking and breaking due to soil shifts, ground movements and changes in temperature. Therefore, it’s essential that sewer lines be inspected at least annually to ensure they’re in great shape.

Grease and debris buildup

Another common cause of sewer line damage is the buildup of grease and debris. When we wash dishes or dispose of food waste in the kitchen sink, grease, fat, and other residual matter can gradually accumulate in the sewer pipes. Over time, these substances harden and create blockages, impeding the normal flow of wastewater.

This obstruction generates undue pressure on the sewer lines. Persistent pressure can lead to cracks or even cause the pipes to burst, thereby causing significant sewer line damage. Regular cleaning and proper disposal of grease and debris can help prevent this issue.

Ground movement

The ground can shift in response to environmental changes such as earthquakes, landslides and weather events such as hurricanes or blizzards; when this happens, sewer lines can crack or be severely damaged, allowing debris entry through small holes and gaps, resulting in clogs or waste backups inside your home.

Traffic above your sewer lines can also damage them, including construction or landscaping work, heavy foot traffic and vehicles driving over them. So, if you experience a sewage backup or smell an unpleasant odor within your home, it may be wise to call for an inspection from a plumber.

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