Sewer lines play a vital role in a home’s overall comfort and cleanliness, ensuring waste is carried away from the home instead of accumulating in your drains, appliances, and fixtures. Although these pipes are built to perform for many years, the precise lifetime of a sewer line depends on the material it is made from, the amount of demand it sees, and the conditions surrounding it, among other factors.
Here is a look at how often different types of sewer lines may need to be replaced and how you can tell when it is time to call a plumber.
How Long Do Sewer Pipes Last?
One of the most common sewer pipe materials in the US is PVC piping. It has been used widely since the 1970s and can last as many as a hundred years before needing to be replaced because of its ability to tolerate deterioration, even after several decades of usage.
Many older homes have clay sewer pipes. Although this material is unlikely to degrade due to chemical exposure, it is prone to breakage when it is exposed to pressure from underground roots. Clay pipes can last 50-60 years.
Another type of sewer pipe found in some American homes is Orangeburg, which was popular in the past because it is a light material that is easy to cut. It is made using wood fibers and a special type of water-resistant adhesive. However, it lacks durability and tends to last less than 50 years, which means it is not widely used in new installations.
Why Do Sewer Lines Need To Be Replaced?
Although sewer pipes are built out of long-lasting materials, they face many challenges during their lifetime that determine how long they will last. One key factor that is difficult to control is the weight of the soil above the pipes. This weight can vary as the soil changes due to compaction and use. For example, the regular presence of parked vehicles over a sewer line can potentially cause the ground to move and put the sewer line in jeopardy.
The roots of trees can also compromise a sewer line, piercing through it in some cases. Droughts can lead to sewer line corrosion, while shifting soil due to erosion or drought can cause pipes to dislocate and leak wastewater into the yard.
Another factor that can reduce a sewer pipe’s performance is improper installation, which can result in leakage or breakage well ahead of the sewer’s expected life span.
Signs Your Sewer Line Pipe Needs To Be Replaced
Here is a look at some of the warning signs that your sewer line pipe needs to be replaced.
A Strange Odor
A strange odor is often a sign that a drainpipe has a crack. Properly functioning plumbing systems should never emit odors from the drains in your home. Although this may be caused by another type of plumbing problem, it is important to have it checked by a plumber immediately to find out why the sewer odor is entering the home and take corrective action.
Clogs and Backups
It is not unusual for a single drain in a home to be clogged. For example, kitchen sinks sometimes experience clogs when food is lodged in them, while shower drains are vulnerable to clogs from hair. However, if you have more than one clogged drain in your home at a time, it could indicate that your sewer lines are damaged, particularly if these clogs are accompanied by a sewage backup. A plumber can advise on whether it is time to replace the sewer lines in these cases.
Mold and Mildew
If you notice wet spots in your home, particularly on the ceiling, floors, or walls, it could be a sign that your sewage line is damaged and needs to be replaced. These wet spots are the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow, which can put your health at risk and compromise your home’s air quality.
Patches Of Greenery on the Lawn
Although most homeowners welcome the sight of greenery in their lawn, this can be an indication that the sewer line is broken as sewage can have a fertilizing effect on plants and grass. Over time, this wastewater can build up in your soil and pose a risk to the health of your family.
Reach Out to the Sewer Maintenance Team at O’Connor Plumbing
If you notice any signs of sewer line problems, reach out to the experienced plumbers at O’Connor Plumbing. Our sewer maintenance technicians can inspect, repair, and replace sewer lines in a timely and professional manner. With more than 70 years of experience in the D.C. metro area, you can depend on our team to ensure your sewer lines are functioning properly and safely.