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Sewer and Drain Back-Ups: 3 Common Problems and Their Solutions

Are you facing the dreaded moment when your sewer/drain system begins backing up? Understanding the source of your problems can help make this issue feel less daunting. Here are the three most common causes of sewer and drain problems and the solutions they require. 

Tree Roots and Sewer/Drain Backup

As the City of Trees, Sacramento sewer and drain systems often become blocked by tree roots. Tree roots are robust, and they seek out the water within your pipes. Once underground, they can infiltrate your sewer or even break open your pipes.

The solution? If you get this issue addressed early, drain clearing services may be able to prevent larger damages. An expert will clear out the tree roots and open your pipes back up. You may need regular maintenance service, but tree roots are more invasive in the winter. You may find yourself only needing this service every year or two.

Sewer Troubles after Plumbing Service

California regulations require all plumbers to install only low-flow toilets, sinks, tubs, and other water-conserving fixtures. These installations help promote water conservation and prevent drought emergencies. 

However, they also can create problems that older units did not experience—primarily sewer backups. For example, low-flow toilets reduce water levels from 4.5 gallons to 1 gallon. The low-pressure push of water allows waste to linger in your pipes, creating waste turbulence. Without enough water to fully clear your lines, you may begin to see sewer troubles over time. 

Thankfully, low-flow toilets are being continuously innovated to become more effective without sacrificing efficiency. There are also a few precautions you can take to make the most of these installations:

  • Double Flushing: You may consider flushing twice when you feel that your toilet may need an extra boost to clear your lines.
  • Regular Service: Annual plumbing inspections—such as with Bonney Beyond—and occasional sewer and drain cleaning services can help keep your plumbing system protected. 
  • Mindful Flushing: You can also help the flow of your pipes by not flushing wipes (even when they say “flushable”) and keeping other unnecessary intrusive material away from the drain. 
  • Low-Flow Upgrades: California has been taking precautions against droughts for decades. Low-flow innovations have come a long way since these conservation efforts started. If you have an older low-flow toilet, you might be missing out on some of the upgrades available in newer systems. Schedule a consultation with your local Bonney plumbers to see if you are due for a low-flow upgrade. 

When upgrading your plumbing systems, experts have no choice but to install the new low-flow regulated units. Without low-flow upgrades, you may have trouble passing inspections or selling your home. However, these toilets can still be powerful and effective when you partner with the right brands and take the proper precautions. These units will also help you save money on water while making your home more eco-friendly.

Broken Pipes and Sewer/Drain Troubles

Sewer and drainage systems can naturally break over time. Numerous factors can lead to their decline. As mentioned above, tree roots and low-flow sewage turbulence can be significant factors. Your type of pipe may also be to blame. Here is a look at different types of pipes and how they can impact your sewer/drainage system:

  • Clay Pipes: These are one of the oldest types of pipes. Clay pipes are nice and smooth, with a similar appearance to a red clay terracotta pot. They used to be cemented together but are now sealed more carefully. Clay pipes often move with the ground, which is helpful during earthquakes. These are some of the best products available for sewers and drains—as long as they do not have seams. 
  • Cast Iron Pipes: Unfortunately, cast iron pipes are often not built to sustain your system long-term. With prolonged exposure to water, these pipes tend to rot out and leach into the ground, allowing roots to grow through.
  • AC Pipe (Asbestos Concrete or Asbestos Cement): AC pipes are not safe to distribute drinking water, but they can be effective in sewage and draining. After 30-40 years, the smooth layer of cement wears away, and the pipe becomes roughly textured. Toilet paper and waste start sticking to this abrasive surface, causing backups. AC pipes can often be repaired if you call an expert early enough. 
  • Orangeburg Pipe: During WW2, everyone was collecting metals for the war effort, including plumbing metals. Metalless Orangeburg pipes were popular during that time. Moisture often gets between these pipe layers, causing structural degradation. Internal layers of tar paper cause the pipe to buckle/bubble, which closes the pipe off. This requires an open trench replacement (more on this below). 
  • ABS Pipe (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) – ABS pipes are modern plastic pipes, which are sturdy and abrasion-resistant. While these earned a bad reputation in the ‘80s for pipe breakage, newer installations are more safely reinforced. Though they are still not necessarily the best, these pipes will get the job done. 

3 Ways to Repair or Replace Sewers

Ideally, you will be able to prevent sewer damage with maintenance services. However, once your sewer system is compromised, it will require repair or replacement. Here are the three ways to repair or replace sewer systems:

Option 1: Lining Sewer Repair Method

The lining repair method works on solid, round, uncompromised pipes. During this sewer repair, an expert begins by clearing your pipes of roots and debris. Then, they insert a sleeve covered in epoxy, which hardens to line your pipe. This process almost creates a new pipe within your pipe. 

Option 2: Trenchless Sewer Replacement

In the trenchless sewer replacement process, an expert will push a cable through your sewer system. They manually pull your new pipe through the old pipe. This is a true replacement option, and it is the preferred method for long-lasting results with minimal costs and invasion.

Option 3: Open Trench Sewer Replacement

In what you may consider a “traditional” sewer repair, an open trench replacement requires experts to dig a trench in your yard (sometimes extending to the street or sidewalk). They then remove old, damaged pipes and install new pipes in their place. This process is necessary when damage or configuration makes it impossible to pull a new pipe through your old pipes in the preferred trenchless process.

Bonney Sewer and Drain: Sewer Service in Sacramento

When your sewer or drain system begins backing up, the experts at Bonney are here to help. We proudly serve homes and businesses in and around the Sacramento area, including Roseville, Rancho Cordova, Vacaville, and beyond. When your sewage system begins backing up, you can give our experts a call.