What Can Cause Sewer Line Damage?

Good sewer pipes should last for decades, some even longer than a century. However, this isn’t always the case and sometimes sewer line damage can emerge much earlier. Here are a few causes – some of them due to nature, and others as a result of human negligence.

Old Pipes

If your pipes were installed a long time ago, especially before 1980, then the chances are they were constructed with clay. Put simply, clay just isn’t as durable as its modern alternatives and over a period of time, it either degrades or rots away.

This is not just the case for clay. Many other materials used for sewer lines at the time are also susceptible to breaking down. Technological advancements now ensure that lines are much tougher and last much longer.

Cast iron is another material which is prone to sewer line damage. Despite being used widely until the 1970’s, cast iron was never very durable and often became brittle over time, leading to widespread damage once cracks began to emerge and rust forms.

Tree Roots

While nature is wonderful, it can also be a real pain. We don’t always consider the strength that it has to cause significant damage, as it tends to do so over time, rather than quickly. Tree roots are a great example. They bed down into the ground and look for water sources, hence they end up growing towards sewer lines, wrapping themselves around the pipes and even growing inside.

These roots grow onto the sewer pipes and can take advantage of the tiny cracks in the pipes, forcing their way in and preventing water flow. Not only do the roots enlarge cracks, but they begin growing inside the pipes to take in water, which in turn clogs up the sewer line.

Over time, this can cause the complete breakdown of the sewer line by enlarging the cracks and growing inside the pipe until it is completely clogged.

Earth Shifts

Earth shifts are another gradual process which can cause sewer line damage and repairing. Affected by environmental impacts, earth movement occurs slowly and is unnoticeable usually, but can have a significant impact on sewer pipes as it puts them under strain. These lines are lodged in the ground and as the earth moves, lines are put under immense pressure which can result in cracks.


While the temptation is there to pour everything down the drain, this should be avoided as it can damage the sewer lines severely. For example, grease. While grease is a fatty liquid when you pour it down, it quickly solidifies and becomes stuck inside the pipes. Not only does this clog the pipe, but debris – such as tissue paper – also begin to get stuck to the pipes, clogging it further.

Caution should be advised when putting any liquid waste down the drain which can change state, as it can easily lead to blockages. Providing hot water is poured down the drain, greases and fats should not solidify, but this still isn’t a risk worth taking.

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