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5 Causes of a Broken Sewer Line

All the pipes, drains, and plumbing fixtures in your home connect to the biggest and most essential piece of your plumbing system – the main sewer line. It’s therefore worth your while to keep this fundamental component of your system intact and working well.


Read on to find out what causes a sewer line to break, and how to identify some of the signs and symptoms of a broken sewer line to save yourself from doing extensive repairs. 


Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Sewer Line 


Over time the main sewer line can become clogged, burst, or even collapse. Knowing some of the common signs of a broken sewer line can help you identify the problem early and get it repaired before more too much damage is done. 


Some of the tell-tale signs of a broken sewer line are:


·      An odour of sewer gas – This is the clearest sign of a cracked drainpipe. Any odour coming from your drains is an indication to inspect further.


·      Slow drains – If you have more than one plumbing fixture that drains slowly, it could be a sign of a broken sewer line.


·      Lush, green, vibrant areas in your yard – If one area of your yard is thriving and looks distinctly different from the vegetation around it, this could be a sign of a collapsed sewer line. 


·      Insects and Rodents – Insects and rodents can squeeze through the cracks in a broken sewer line and make it their home. 


·      Mold and Mildew – Wet spots on your ceilings, walls, and floors can all be signs of a collapsed sewer line or a broken water pipe.


Understanding what causes a sewer line to break gives you the power to prevent it. Get informed on what causes a broken sewer line and take steps to keep your whole plumbing system healthy.  


The Top 5 Causes of a Broken Sewer Line 


1. Pipe Settlement 


A sewer line or drainage pipe can become damaged due to changes in the surrounding soil or sediment. When the ground around the pipe shifts or settles, the pipe may create a downhill slope in the wrong direction or sink into the ground. Over time, this lower area of the pipe will start to accumulate paper and waste, creating frequent blockages in flow. 


2. Improper Sewer Line Installation 


Most plumbing and piping systems will be installed with a downward slope, ensuring that water and waste flow with gravity. If the main sewer line isn’t installed with an accurate amount of downward slope and support, the pipes will eventually settle and break.  


3. Tree Root Infiltration 


As they naturally grow towards sources of water, tree roots can become attracted to sewer lines. Once the roots connect with the sewer line, they will wrap around and break into the pipes as they continue to grow. As tree roots expand, it can cause the pipes to break, allowing sewage to leak out into your yard and surrounding area. Tree roots may also continue to grow into the pipes as they absorb water, causing a complete or partial blockage of the entire line. 


4. Pipe Damage and Deterioration 


Frequent treatment of clogged or blocked drains with chemical solutions can cause corrosion and irreversible pipe damage. If your water is discoloured, the water pressure has changed, or you’re finding signs of leaks, you may have corrosion in the pipes of your sewer line. 


5. Flushing Debris or Pouring Grease Down the Drain 


To optimize the health of your pipes and your main sewer line, only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Anything else can cause drainage issues. Grease, fats, and oils are some of the biggest dangers when it comes to clogged pipes. When grease cools, it hardens and sticks to the inner linings of the pipes, which clogs the line. 


How to Protect your Sewer Line  


Although some of the causes of a broken sewer line are out of your control, there are a few steps you can take to protect your pipes and extend the life of your main sewer line. 


If you notice trees along the path of your sewer line, remove the trees before the roots continue to damage the line. Be diligent about what you flush down the toilet or pour into your drains, and if you’d like to be proactive in preventing future damage, call the experts at Ashton to provide a camera inspection of your drains. We’re here to help!

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