A sewer with the waste that has flowed into it from city sewer pipes.

Sewer Line Repair: What’s the Big Problem With Cast Iron Sewer Pipes?

If you’re like the average American, you don’t know what your sewer line is made up of. Why would you? But if you’ve ever had one burst underground, there’s a good chance that it was a cast iron sewer pipe. And homeowners who go through a sewer line repair, will want to be sure they know how to. avoid another one in the future. Luckily, there are ways.

A man in blue overalls holding a leaking pipe and a red wrench.

Downspout vs. Main Drain Hydro Jetting

A downspout and a sewer line are similar looking. Your plumber will even use the same equipment to fix them both, but they are not the same. While they require the same tools, a downspout repair is a very different animal than a sewer line repair.

Downspouts

Downspouts are perforated, which may result in dirt and roots getting inside of them from time to time. A quality hydro jetting can help you avoid big downspout repairs that may be required when debris continues to build up over time. A qualified plumber can measure where a blockage is inside the pipe, dig up the downspout, and accomplish a repair right there in the yard.

Basically, your downspout is above ground, while your sewer line, of course, runs below it. This makes clearing them out quite similar. But repairs? Not so much.

Main Drains

Main drain repairs are tough. They can get tree roots breaking in through their seams. When those roots reach water, they naturally grow. As you may already be realizing, this can present a pretty serious structural problem for your mainline. If the roots get too big, they will crack your sewer line, and that my friend, is a bad day.

Cracks are also significantly more common if you have a cast iron sewer pipe — but we’ll get to that in more detail below. Hydro jetting your PVC or cast iron sewer pipes can be a real lifesaver that will help you avoid major sewer line repairs down the road.

Plus, a plumber will often combine hydro jetting with a camera. This way we can scope out what’s really going on down there and diagnose accordingly.

The cost of hydro jetting a main line is not as high as you might think, but if your plumber finds a fracture or a hole, that’ll mean digging up the sewer for a full repair.

Can I Put a Sewer Line Repair Off?

Nope. In the unfortunate event of a broken sewer line, it becomes an environmental issue. At this point, your raw sewage is pouring into the soil, which is something we need to take care of. No way around that, I’m afraid.

This scenario is the precise reason we recommend hydro jetting your main line as part of your home maintenance once every 12 to 18 months.

Cast Iron Sewer Pipes

While cast iron sewer pipes have been around forever, that doesn’t mean they should be. When your sewer pipe is built from cast iron, it is susceptible to a fair amount of wear and tear. The main culprits? Rust and corrosion.

A cast iron sewer pipe
Notice how this metal piping has been worn down?

PVC Sewer Pipes

On the other hand, a PVC pipe for a sewer line is an excellent choice. Unlike a cast iron sewer pipe, PVC will basically last forever. That means no more digging up your yard and dealing with the smell of raw sewage for days one end. PVC beats all other pipe materials when it comes to resistance against weather and general failure. That’s why, at Plumbing One, we only install PVC pipe for a sewer line. when we do a sewer line repair.

A stack of PVC pipe for sewer lines and other uses.
PVC pipe for a sewer line.
This stuff stands up through time and against the elements.

Questions About a Sewer Line Repair?

Let us know how we can help. We’re always ready to recommend your next step forward — be it a DIY fix or a maintenance step to prevent the big bills. But if you ever have a sewer line emergency, do not wait to call a plumber. Time is crucial in situations involving sewage leaks, but your local plumber will know exactly what to do.

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