As we use water in our homes, it flows into a drain in and passes through a trap, a U-shaped pipe that holds water and prevents sewer gases from entering the home. After passing through the trap, the wastewater continues to flow downward through large drain pipes that eventually exit the home underground at one location—through a pipe called a house lateral. The house lateral usually runs out to the street from either the front or rear of your property where it connects to the public sewer system.
One of the most common causes of sewer line damage is tree roots. A tree’s roots follow sources of water as they grow. Since sewer lines carry liquid waste, roots are naturally attracted to the source.
Once in contact with a sewer pipe, tree roots begin to wrap around and break into pipes, clogging, weakening, and even breaking the structure. Clay sewer pipes, typically found in older homes, are the most susceptible to damage from tree roots.
Although pipes made of steel and cast iron are galvanized to prevent rusting, these pipes are at a high risk of corroding due to calcium and magnesium build-up from regular wear and tear. If corrosion is left untreated, it can leave the pipe susceptible to leaks and cracks.
Clogged Pipes Due to Debris and Foreign Objects
Your home’s sewage lines are only equipped to handle human waste and toilet paper. Avoid flushing trash like wrappers and paper towels, as they’re unable to properly disintegrate and can cause blockages that drain cleaning agents can’t fix. In the kitchen, cooking oil and grease can also clog pipes if they’re poured into the sink. Pour these liquids into a container, let them cool, and then dispose of them in a trash can.
During extreme temperature and cold weather, frozen pipes can bust as a result of the expanding ice. However, it’s not just cold weather that can cause pipes to rupture—though unlikely, extreme heat can burst pipes, too.