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How long a sewer will last depends on a number of factors including the pipe material, proximity to trees, etc. If your sewer line is more than 40 years old, it may need replacing. Even if the home is newer, its plumbing may be connected to an older sewer pipe. Even if your home is newer, regular video sewer line inspections are good insurance. By inspecting the pipes for bulges, joint failures, cracks and tree root intrusion, you can prevent a costly sewer line backup and extensive repairs.
Most insurance policies do not cover repairs to sewer lines caused by gradual wear and tear. Before problems occur, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it covers sewer pipe repair or replacement. Some insurance companies will add a sewer and drain endorsement to your policy to cover losses related to a sewer line backup, to cover damage to your home.
The most common problem with older homes built prior to 1980 is damage from tree roots that have invaded the joints of the pipes. Other causes include acts of nature, accidental damage from digging to close to the pipe, and inevitable deterioration to the pipes over time.
Cleaning out your own sewer line with drain cleaner or a snake or auger may make your sewer line problems worse.
If your sewer line has partially or completely collapsed, pouring drain cleaner down it will not improve the flow of wastewater. Instead, the caustic chemicals will sit in the pipe and dissolve it. This will result in the chemicals penetrating the ground beneath the pipe.
Also, if you turn on the water to flush the pipe after pouring the drain cleaner, the water along with the chemicals can back up, causing the potential for personal injury and additional damage.
If you try to use a commercially available snake or auger that you purchased from your local home improvement store, it may not be long enough to reach the clog. If the clog is being caused by heavy root infiltration or collapsed pipe sections, the auger will not be able to clear the sewer line.
Instead of trying to clear the pipe yourself, it is always best to consult with a professional plumber.
A traditional pipe replacement involves digging a trench along the entire length of the sewer line. If sidewalks, driveways or other structures are over the sewer line, they must also be excavated. Once the trench has been dug, the old sewer line is removed and a new sewer line is inserted into the trench and connected to the system.
The plumbing company will typically fill in the trench after the work is complete, but the homeowner or business owner is responsible for replacing any sidewalks, driveways and additional structures.
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