What are the signs of a broken sewer pipe?

uncovered sewer pipe

What is the main sewer line?

If there is anything more frustrating than a drain that isn’t draining, it has to be a broken sewer line. Repair for this is just as important and urgent because what goes down the drain, especially the toilet, we don’t want it back, most of the time anyway. Sewer line repair isn’t something you think about until you have a need.

Then, one day you’re having a birthday party for one of your kids or have friends over for a cookout and fun. Then somebody steps in a marshy area in your backyard, a smelly marshy area. The next day you call a plumber that does both sewer line repair and plumbing and wow!  You were not expecting that expense. He gives you the option for either sewer line repair or replaces the entire line from the house to the main sewer line.

Every house has a large-diameter pipe that carries waste from every shower, sink, and toilet into branches of other pipes that are typically running underground through your yard. From there, it flows into another large sewer pipe connecting from your pipe to the city’s sewer line. From that point, it carries the waste into a treatment center that the city operates.

 If the main sewer line coming from your home gets a clog, it can back up into the drains inside your home. If the pipe running under your house or under your yard gets old and worn, it can burst. When that happens, you don’t want to wait before you call a professional for sewer line repair service.

damaged sewer pipe

What type of pipe is used for sewer lines?

Most it may surprise homeowners to find out that when it comes to sewer line repair, not all sewer lines are the same, therefore, not all sewer line repair is the same. Depending on the age of your house and city you live in, there could be various types of sewer pipe and water lines put together.

One that is the same, what can impact a sewer line repair job the most is the type of material the sewer lines are. The following is a list of four commonly used sewer pipes:

  • Clay Tile Pipe:Clay tile pipe is referred to in the industry as a vitrified clay pipe or VCP. They make this pipe from blended clay and shale that is baked at a high temperature, creating an immobile ceramic. Clay tile pipe has a long lifespan and is commonly used gravity sewer collection because of it resistant to most sewage. Unfortunately, they do not offer a trustworthy seal to hold water in because they are connected with hubbed fittings. It is because of this clay tile pipes are very susceptible to tree roots infiltrating as tree roots follow where the water is leaking, and they eventually break through the sewer lines, causing damage that creates a need for professional sewer line repair.
  • Cast Iron Pipe: Old homes, homes 60-70 years old and older, will most likely have cast iron sewer pipes and water pipes. This was a popular material back in those days because they sealed tight to hold water and waste, tree roots couldn’t impede, and they moved with the ground. However, cast-iron pipe corrodes and rust, which can cause a big problem when it comes to the sewer lines. The more corroded they become, the weaker they become, and eventually, they will break and collapse, causing sewer line repair work to be done.
  • Bituminized Fiber Pipe: The bituminized fiber pipe is made with wood pulp & pitch that is pressed together and was a common pipe used during the 1800s, and some in the 1970s. This was a popular pipe because it was lightweight, making it easier to use. However, it would become brittle and break with frequency. There are a few homes with this type of piping, scarce, but they do exist. When sewer line repair is needed for this type of piping, the only recommendation a plumber can make is a complete sewer line replacement. 
  • Plastic PVC Pipe: The most common sewer line pipe used today is Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC. This plastic pipe is lightweight, easy to work with, and has proven to be impervious and resilient against tree roots. Any problems with PVC used as sewer lines is usually because they were not installed properly or because the plans of laying them were not planned thoroughly. This is the easiest pipe to work with for sewer line repairs, making it a popular choice among plumbers.

Can toilet paper clog a sewer line?

Yes, in fact, toilet paper or any other debris that is flushed down the toilet or poured down a drain can get snagged on tree roots, and stop the water flowing to the main sewer drain line. Plumbers are constantly reminding customers to avoid flushing diapers, female sanitary products, paper towels, facial tissue, and extra-thick toilet paper. These are the types of products, and tree roots are the two biggest reasons for sewer line repair.

Can I replace my sewer line myself?

If you can hand-dig the trench that is required to get to the old sewer line before installing the new replacement line, yes.  It would be much cheaper than having a professional plumber do the work. However, you won’t have the guarantee, almost like sewer line repair insurance, if it isn’t done correctly.  Having a professional plumber install or provide sewer line repair services will give you a guarantee that the job is done correctly.

Do I need a permit to replace the sewer line?

If you live within city limits or an area that is governed by the county where your sewer is connected to city or county sewage, then yes, a permit is required. This is another reason that hiring a professional plumber is the best solution, they are familiar with the paperwork process as much as they with the sewer line repair process.

Your sewer line isn’t something that you think about daily. It’s always there and we take it for granted until it isn’t working anymore. By taking precautions with what you flush down the toilet or pour down the drains, most homes won’t experience problems requiring sewer line repair services. For your sewer pipe repair needs in Fort Worth, TX, dial (817) 560-4144 today!