What Can Cause a Main Line Sewer Collapse?

A good homeowner is diligent in repairing and maintaining the indoor plumbing, but for the most part, the part of the plumbing system that is outside gets ignored until the big problems start. Obviously since your main sewer line is underground, you don’t really think about it, but when it starts having problems, it will be all you think about.

A clog in the main sewer line is a usually an inexpensive fix for a plumber, but if your main line collapses altogether, the expense will add up. For this reason, the main line should be replaced before that happens, and while you should have it inspected every few years, there are a few things that may point to a collapse sooner rather than later.

Age of Your Pipes

If you own an older home, even ones built in the 1980’s that doesn’t really seem like so long ago, those pipes are working quickly towards their expiration date. It is around the 30-year mark where main line pipes start to get into their less-than-golden years and damage and collapse become a reality and an eventuality. If you have a home built before 1980, it is likely the pipes use less preferable materials that are more prone to aging and wear compared to contemporary materials. It makes damage and collapse more likely.

Soil and Trees

The soil that a main line is buried in and the trees around it have a big effect on main sewer lines and their longevity.  High chloride content soil will erode the pipes faster while mature trees have roots that actually seek out the pipe due to all the essential nutrients that is inside. Typically, the major issue with tree roots is that they cause clogs, but if they are growing into the pipe, it is also causing pipe damage as well. As for the soil, you can’t do much about it other than anticipate damage. Sandy soils will have less corrosion, but clay-heavy soils will corrode the pipe faster.

Temperature Shifts

Combined with all the above factors, if you have a damaged or aging main line sewer pipe, you should anticipate a collapse during a season change. During periods of a sudden hot or cold shift, it puts stress on the pipe and if already damaged, it is likely to collapse. While inspection and swift replacement are crucial anywhere, if you live in a colder climate, your pipe will have a shorter lifespan and you will have a shorter amount of time to have it replaced before the worst happens. Warmer climates have a little bit more leeway in this regard, but they should still be replaced sooner rather than the eventual and more expensive later.

What to Do Now?

If you have lived in your home for a long time, you shouldn’t expect your main line to have been replaced by the previous owner. If you have never had it inspected before, you should have it inspected now, especially if you are having signs of main line sewer problems such as frequently clogged toilets, gurgling drains, or even water backing up out of drains. In the best case, this usually means a clog somewhere in the main line, but the worst case is that your pipe has already began to collapse. However, by catching it before it fully breaks down will be much less expensive than waiting until it finally does.

If you have an aging main line or one that is already manifesting problems, contact us today. SOS Drain & Sewer may be ready to help you when you have a true SOS plumbing crisis, but we also love to prevent those emergencies with preventative maintenance and inspection.