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Main Causes Of Sewer Damage

Sewer damage is a serious problem. At best, your plumbing won’t work properly. At worst, it will lead to sewer backup and massive property damage.

The best way to deal with sewer damage is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To do that, you need to understand what causes that damage. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to investigate the main causes of sewer damage – knowledge is power, and if you know what you’re up against, the chances of sewer backup are that much lower.

Tree roots

Trees are probably the biggest cause of catastrophic sewer damage. People find sewage disgusting – trees, on the other hand, love the nutrients it can provide. When there’s even a small crack in your sewer line from wear and tear, tree roots will begin to grow toward that crack. They’ll pierce into the sewer line and continue growing, creating more cracks, as well as blocking the sewer.

This is a self-perpetuating problem, as you can see – roots create bigger cracks, which attract more roots, which create more cracks, and so on. The easiest way of dealing with this problem is to get rid of any trees on your property. Trees are beautiful, though, so that’s not always a great solution.

Instead, you can use tree root killer – though that’s a temporary solution, and you’ll have to reapply it around your sewer line regularly.  The best way of dealing with the problem is getting rid of any cracks – using a sewer liner can help, and replacing an old sewer line can work too. 


Time heals all wounds, it’s true. Time also destroys all sewer lines – and while that’s a less catchy saying, it’s also true. If tree roots don’t damage your sewer line, wear and tear will,  eventually.

Sewer lines are built to last. Depending on what your sewer line is made of, it might last for:

  • 30-50 years (Orangeburg pipe)
  • 50-60 years (clay pipe)
  • 100 years (PVC and ABS pipe estimated lifespan)

We’ve been using PVC and ABS pipes for less than 100 years, which is why 100 years is the estimated lifespan – it may end up being longer or shorter, but so far, PVC and ABS pipes have stood the test of time. If you’ve got an older home, you may have a clay or Orangeburg pipe, and that pipe will be pretty eroded by now – PVC and ABS have largely replaced other materials in newer homes.

When your sewer pipe is damaged because of wear and tear, the best option is usually to replace it. In some cases, however, the use of sewer liners can extend the lifespan of your old pipe by a number of years.

Sewer clogs don’t mean sewer damage

All sorts of things can impede how well your sewer system functions, from flushing the wrong items down the toilet to rodent infestations. We didn’t talk about those things here, because our main focus was on structural damage to your sewer line.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t be cautious of those risks too, however. Keep fat, oil, grease, and non-flushable items out of your sewer line.

If you suspect sewer line damage, call a plumber

While tree roots and time are the most common causes of sewer line damage, earthquakes and other shifts in the ground can also cause damage, as can improper digging.

No matter what caused your sewer line damage, it needs to be repaired or replaced as quickly as possible, or you’ll end up with sewage leaking in your yard – or backing up into your home. We can quickly repair or replace your sewer line for you, and help you avoid sewer line damage in the future – read more on our website. 

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