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  • Writer's pictureHathorn

What are the Common Causes of Sewer Line Damage?

From cooking waste grease to the seemingly innocent “flushable” wipes, there are many reasons for sewer line damage and blockage. Even changing soil conditions brought on by erosion or invasive tree roots can apply pressure and result in misalignment or cracks in your sewer line.

These are the types of situations where sewer line cameras come in handy. Plumbers can accurately identify where a blockage or damage is by inserting a sewer camera down a sewer line, eliminating guesswork and letting the specialists dig only at the right place to remedy the situation.

Therefore, let’s look at why and how sewer line damage happens and how to remedy it should you find yourself in a pickle with your sewer line.

A Tree Root Invasion

Tree roots are one of the most common reasons sewer lines are damaged. Sewer lines are a rich source of moisture, which trees search for. Tree roots can encroach on pipelines over time, leading to cracks, obstructions, or complete collapse. Older sewer systems, especially those composed of clay or other porous materials, are more likely to experience this infiltration.

Deterioration And Ageing

Sewer line damage refers to any issues, disruptions, or structural problems within the sewer system. Like other forms of infrastructure, sewer pipes have an expiration date. Cast iron, clay, and concrete can degrade over time due to weather variables, ground movements, and wear and tear from regular use. Aged pipes are more susceptible to cracks, corrosion, and structural problems, which raises the possibility of leaks or collapses. When estimating the risk of damage, the sewer system's age is a crucial consideration.

Blocked Or Clogged Drains

The causes of sewer line blockages are numerous and frequent problems for countless houses. Grease, debris, hair, soap scum, and even alien objects like wipes or sanitary goods can assemble over time. These obstructions prevent the sewage from flowing as it should, causing backups and increased pressure inside the pipes. Damage from the pressure buildup may include pipe misalignment or pipe bursting. Blockages can be avoided by performing routine maintenance and forming reasonable usage habits.

Ground Movement And Settlement

Causes of sewer lines may be affected by natural occurrences like earth movement, settlement, or seismic activity. The pipes may become out of alignment or develop cracks or fractures due to changes in the soil's properties.

For instance, expansive soils that swell when wet and contract when dry can strain sewer systems and cause structural problems. Similarly, earthquakes can result in ground movements that compromise the integrity of the pipes. During construction or restoration, the risk can be reduced by monitoring the soil conditions and taking the required precautions.


Metal sewer pipes, including those made of cast iron or galvanised steel, are prone to corrosion. Corrosion of the lines can occur over time due to chemical exposure, soil conditions, and water quality issues. The structural integrity of the pipes is weakened by corrosion, increasing the likelihood of cracks, leaks, or collapses. This harm can be avoided by being aware of the environment's propensity for corruption and using corrosion-resistant materials.

Shoddy Installation Or Construction

During the installation of sewer lines, poor installation techniques or the use of subpar materials might result in long-term issues. An improper slope, crooked pipes, flimsy couplings, or insufficient support can cause early damage. Poor building methods may make sewer pipes susceptible to collapses, leaks, or cracks. The best way to prevent problems later is to use qualified personnel, follow industry standards, and conduct extensive quality checks throughout the installation.

Unusual Temperatures

Extreme temperature swings can have an impact on sewer pipes. Due to freezing and thawing cycles in colder climes, pipes may expand and compress. This strain, over time, may result in cracks or even pipe bursts. Similarly, excessive heat can make pipes expand, which may lead to structural damage or misalignment. Temperature changes can be lessened to some extent by insulating sensitive sewer system areas and using the proper thermal expansion joints.

Excavation Or Building Projects

During excavation, building, or restoration projects, sewer pipes may inadvertently sustain damage. Before excavating, it is crucial to precisely locate and mark any existing sewer lines to prevent any physical harm. Pipe cracks, fractures, or ruptures can be brought on by heavy machinery, careless handling of the equipment, or unintended accidents. Such incidents can be avoided with careful planning, the use of qualified specialists, and adherence to safe digging procedures.

Extreme Weather

Storms, floods, and other severe weather can have an exciting effect on sewer lines. These events can overload the sewer system with more water, debris, and force, causing backups, damage, or even the temporary disconnecting of sewer lines.

Grease Buildup

Grease, fat, and cooking oil should never be dumped down drains because doing so might cause these pollutants to accumulate in sewer pipes. Grease solidifies with time, resulting in obstructions and a reduction in the pipes' ability to move fluid. Grease traps can be implemented to aid this problem and educate the community on correct grease disposal techniques.

Flushing Inappropriate Items

Blockages and damage to sewer lines frequently result from flushing objects that are not intended for disposal in the sewer system. Wipes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, cotton balls, and diapers do not quickly decompose and can build up in the pipes, producing blockages and backups.

Chemical Damage

Drain cleaners that include harsh chemicals or chemical compounds used in excess can corrode sewer systems. Continuous contact with these chemicals can weaken the material of the pipes, causing cracks or leaks. The risk of chemical harm can be reduced by promoting the adoption of ecologically friendly drain cleaning alternatives and implementing responsible chemical usage procedures.

High Groundwater Levels

Excessive groundwater can enter sewer lines through leaks or defective couplings. The water entering the sewer system may be more than it can handle during heavy rainfall or high water tables, leading to backups, pressure spikes, and possible damage. Monitoring groundwater levels, setting up suitable drainage systems, and carrying out routine inspections can all assist in lessening the effects of high water levels.

Reasons for Sewer Line Camera Damage

Sewer line camera damage can happen due to physical injury, exposure to water, chemicals, cable damage, poor storage or transportation, electrical problems, or manufacturing flaws. Damage to sewer line cameras can result from careless handling, drops, submersion in water, exposure to corrosive substances, cable fraying, rough handling, electrical shorts, and quality problems. If damage occurs, get help from a professional or speak with the manufacturer about alternatives for replacement or repair.

Key Takeaways

Sewer line damage is typically caused by tree root infiltration, ageing and deterioration, blockages and clogs, blockages and settling of the ground, corrosion, poor installation or construction, extreme temperatures, excavation or construction activities, grease buildup, flushing inappropriate items, chemical damage, high groundwater levels, and soil erosion.

Understanding these factors is essential for putting preventative measures into place and acting quickly. Regular maintenance, careful waste disposal, and sound installation techniques can reduce sewer line damage. Addressing these issues is empirical to maintain a practical and functional sewer system while preventing expensive repairs and service interruptions.

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