To understand the various problems that can occur inside a sewer line, you have to understand science. Knowing how things happen can help you prevent them from happening. Here are three ways that science affects sewer lines and sewer systems.
Neutral air pressure & gravity keep things flowing
In order for water and sewage to flow freely in drain lines, the air pressure needs to be neutral so that gravity can pull the water and sewage further into the system. To achieve neutral air pressure, there needs to be a passageway for air behind the water to push the water further. This is achieved through the use of vent pipes that are connected to the drain pipes. These vents are located high and typically found on rooftops so the vents can also be used to dispel sewer odors and gases.
One problem that can cause drains to seem clogged is the vent pipe actually being clogged, creating a lack of neutral air pressure. If you have a drain problem, be sure to check your vent pipe to make sure it is not clogged with debris, such as twigs and leaves.
Tree roots seek out water & nutrients
Tree roots grow toward sewer lines due to the pipes being a bountiful source for water and nutrients. They can wrap around lines while searching for a leak. If a leak is found, the roots will grow into the pipe. This could cause the crack to become larger and the roots to fill the line and cause it to clog. At some point, the damage from tree roots could become so severe that the line will need to be replaced.
This type of repair will require the line to be excavated, which may mean an extensive repair to your landscaping and/or driveway. Should this happen, it's a good idea to install a barrier during the replacement to prevent tree roots from being able to grow near sewer lines. A sewer line barrier consists of metal or wood running vertically to and buried deeper than the sewer line.
Of course, inspection and maintenance of your sewer line can go a long way in stopping the progression of a tree root system from infiltrating into your sewer line. If you are concerned about tree roots affecting your sewer line, hire a plumber to inspect the inside of the sewer line with a video camera. He or she will be able to determine whether or not roots have already begun growing inside the line or pinpoint any cracks that could attract tree roots.
Water flows to where there is the least resistance
If there are any cracks in a sewer line, water will flow through the cracks because the cracks have the least resistance. This can cause the soil underneath the sewer line to become unstable and collapse due to gravity. In extreme cases, this instability can lead to the formation of a sink hole, especially if the area collapses. This can affect the sewer line and cause it to rupture, particularly since the line would no longer have any structural support from the soil.
Since sewer lines are out of sight, out of mind, you wouldn't know if there was a leak in your sewer line causing the soil to become unstable. Therefore, it's a good idea to perform a sewer line inspection, which are done by using a special camera device inserted into the sewer line to look for cracks and other damage. The frequency of this inspection can be determined by your plumber, someone like Gold Seal Plumbing, based on the age of the sewer line and the conditions of the soil.