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Who is Responsible for My Sewer Line Repair or Replacement?

When someone thinks about who’s responsible for the repair and replacement of their sewer lines, it is often assumed that it falls on your city or municipality. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the greater Houston area (or in most areas, for that matter), and the city’s responsibility for your sewer line ends where your sewer line connects to the city sewer system. The rest of your sewer line from the city connection to the home is the homeowner’s responsibility.

What Are the Signs of Sewer Line Problems?

Slow Drains:

Showers, tubs, and other drains that take longer than usual to empty could be a sign of a broken sewer line. If other drains in the home are also emptying slowly, it increases the likelihood of a broken sewer pipe. When the slow drainage is limited to one sink or shower drain, you can probably resolve the problem by clearing debris from the drain by removing the drain cover and pulling out any visible hair and any other residue.

Foundation Cracks:

Most homes constructed today are built on top of concrete slabs, through which various plumbing and sewer lines must pass. Supply pipe leaks that are under high pressure will be much easier to detect, whereas leaks from a broken sewer line can be more of a challenge to find. Because sewer pipes are not pressurized to increase their flow, any sewage leaks occur and spread more slowly. Often, it isn’t until the leaks cause the soil to shift, leading to cracks in your foundation.

Bad Smells:

Clogged and broken sewer lines are often the cause of some of the most horrible smells to enter your home. The reason is simple, raw sewage stinks, and when it is unable to flow away from your home because of clogs, or a broken sewer pipe that deposits the waste in your yard, it becomes a problem fast.

Soggy Yards:

Any damp or waterlogged areas of your lawn located above your sewer line. Sections of your lawn adjacent to sewer lines that are greener and lusher than the rest of the yard should be investigated as well. Don’t be fooled by the perceived beauty of that strong grass, as it only looks that good thanks to the fertilization from your raw sewage. Yuck.

How Do I Know if I Need Sewer Pipe Repair or Replacement?

Our plumbing has some rather creative ways of communicating their problems. Slow drains in sinks or showers, rattling pipes, gurgling noises, and complete backups are some of the ways our sewer and drainpipes speak to us. No one needs to be a house whisperer to understand that these are messages from beyond your kitchen and bathroom plumbing, and your pipes need help!

Sewer lines fail for several reasons, but the most common causes are corrosion related to age and tree root growth. As the lead or galvanized steel sewer pipe begins to age, it becomes weaker because of its use over the decades. Fittings and threads begin to rust, corrode, and start to flake away and buildup from years of pouring grease down the garbage disposal will cause chronic blockages in the line. Tree roots that have grown around the pipe and squeezed the pipe until it breaks allowing the roots to penetrate your sewer pipes, creating leaks and complete sewer line stoppages.

Once a sewer line has been broken, it begins to contaminate your yard, and requires immediate attention. Sewer line replacement usually results in what we refer to as “open yard surgery,” where the plumbing company must dig a trench along the entire length of your sewer line, remove the offending pipe, and then backfill the hole.

Are There Any Alternatives to Sewer Line Replacement?

In some cases, it is possible, as well as less expensive, to repair only the affected portion of your sewer line. The repair will result in a much smaller area that needs to be dug up and will take less time than a complete sewer line replacement. The main problem with a sewer line repair is that if you’re already experiencing leaks in one portion of your sewer line, the rest of that pipe is going to be compromised and will eventually fail.

Another alternative to a complete sewer line replacement is a relatively new process called “sewer pipe-re-lining,” where a cracked or broken sewer line can be repaired from the inside of the pipe. The re-lining is done by feeding a felt tube through the length of the sewer pipe. Before the felt tube is inserted, it is treated with a two-epoxy resin and pressurized with air to create a new “pipe within a pipe.”

Sewer pipe re-lining is a great option when the majority of your home’s sewer service line is in relatively good condition. If your sewer line is more than thirty years old or is presently leaking from more than one location, it’s probably time to consider a sewer line replacement in Houston.

Sewer line repair or replacement is not a project that can not be done by a do-it-yourselfer or your local handyman. You need experienced, licensed professionals like the technicians at Nick’s Plumbing and Sewer Services. For the last four decades, Nick’s has been repairing, maintaining, and installing sewer lines all over Houston. Call Nick’s Plumbing and Sewer Services for a free estimate or free second opinion on your sewer line repair, re-lining, or replacement today. We’re on the way!

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