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Common Sewer Line Problems

Common Sewer Line Problems

Sewer lines are difficult to see and reach, ultimately making common sewer line problems challenging to detect. Additionally, out-of-sight-out-of-mind syndrome naturally makes you less proactive in preventing or minimizing foreseeable problems. Most people pay no mind to sewers and sewer lines until they are confronted with damage, repair, and costs.

We all hate expenses and inconvenience, right? Below we’ve outlined some of the most common sewer problems to inspire your proactivity and to remedy whatever disaster has “sewered” into your home.

Sewer Line Clogs

Common Sewer Line Problems - Sewer Line Clogs

Clogged sewer lines are one of the most common mishaps in sewer plumbing because they can occur quite easily.

If you take a visit to your local shopping centre, the gym, or even the community washrooms in your workplace, you will notice signs deterring individuals from putting solid items (feminine products, contraceptives, etc.). This is because items as such can easily clog the toilet or clog the sewers upon build-up. In fact, certain tissues, paper towels, and wipes can have this effect.

Avoid using the toilet as a wastebasket to prevent clogs in this manner. Instead, dispose of waste in a respectable manner.

If you are unsure how to rid yourself of certain items, you can contact your local government for recommendations.

In addition to toilets, disposing of waste in kitchen and bathroom sinks can result in sewer clogging and this is often overlooked. For example, draining hot oil down the drain after cooking, washing your hair in sinks and tubs and rinsing dermatological or hygiene products in the sink can be sufficient enough, when done consistently, to clog sewer lines.

Common sewer line problems can be minimized with a little intention. Be militant about how and where you dispose of your waste.

Sewer Line Augering - Tree Root Growth

Common Sewer Line Problems - Sewer Line Augering - Tree Root Growth

Trees often mean a lot of fresh clean air above the surface of the land. However, for sewer lines, they may as well be scavengers.

According to the City of Edmonton, root growth is the most expensive maintenance experienced by local residents.

When roots grow in sewers, they can cause flooding and completely cripple the function of sewer pipes. The damage is so severe, that in some instances, a repair can range costs up to $5000.00.

Residents are encouraged to communicate with the city or retain a professional landscaper or plumber to find out the exact location of sewer lines prior to planting. If a tree is planted beside a sewer line, the roots may grow and completely fill the pipe with root masses. One of the best ways to combat root growth is the use of augers.

The reason sewer augering is relied upon is because it attacks the root of the tree to stunt or stop growth completely. Other methods such as cutting the roots can actually encourage new growth.

Damaged Pipes

A single or series of damaged sewage pipes is problematic for sewer lines.

Pipes can be damaged in a series of ways.


  • Tree Roots: As mentioned previously, root growth can cause damage to sewer lines from the distribution of root masses.
  • Cracks & Holes: Another source of damaged pipes are small cracks and holes. Pipes get weaker with age and can also be affected by the substances passing through. Most times they can withstand the pressure, but if the cracks continue to get bigger the pipe can collapse or break.
  • Pipe Sagging: A third example of pipe damage is sagging. Sags occur when the pipe bedding on the bottom of the trench fails to give in. As a result, a portion of the pipe drops below its appropriate grade.
  • Lack of Sewer Line Maintenance: A lack of maintenance can also damage pipes. If inspections are not conducted, it is hard to determine the condition of the sewer lines or the quality of the pipes.


The simple answer – Get an annual inspection.

Avoiding Sewer Line Problems

Common Sewer Line Problems

To ensure you do not fall into the trap of sewer line issues information is key.

Educate yourself on sewer line locations and note their proximity. Further, if you intend to build, renovate, plant, or conduct any work on your property that could potentially have a negative impact on the sewer line, contact your local city authority to obtain relevant information.


Sewer lines need to be cleaned and maintained as well.

If they are not frequently inspected and cleaned, the damage is inevitable especially from clogging. Beyond the inspection of sewer lines themselves, look for signs in your home that are telling of sewage problems. Signs include, but are not limited to: how slow your drain is, odour (some people will smell sewage gas), mould, especially close to pipes and water systems, sinkholes, cracks, and holes, and indentation in your lawn or pavement.

Sewer lines can be problematic, but they do not have to be. Keep a checklist and make maintenance a habit.