In the past, the primary reason for replacing a sewer was to fix the structural integrity of a line that had failed, and as a consequence discharged raw wastewater into the environment. Today the situation is much more in depth. A large number of factors contribute to the rapidly declining integrity of major portions of the wastewater collection systems throughout the country.
To begin with, many of the sewer systems in use today are very old. Having been installed during the period after World War II,they were mostly designed with a 50 to 100 year life cycle. Because of this, the materials used (generally Orangeburg piping) in their construction have lost their structural integrity because of corrosion and natural deterioration from use and time. Old clay pipes fail at the joints, and roots grow into them. This breakdown that occurs over time allows greater problems, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall and under high groundwater conditions. In turn the additional flows generally produce two negative effects: Firstly, the sewer flows to speed up the deterioration of the pipe and allow leakage into the environment and second, the increased sewage flow into the city main-line overloads the treatment facilities to the point where they sometimes fail and discharge partially treated or even untreated wastewater directly into the environment. That could mean, what you and your neighbors are flushing you are in turn drinking and using in cooking!
Another factor that contributes significantly to the deterioration of collection systems in some areas is rapid system expansion to keep pace with population growth. Sewer lines, as well as treatment plants were sized and installed at a time before WWII by about 10 to 20 years. Treatment plants can be expanded, but lines cannot; not without replacing them. Not only can expansion of the plants challenge the entire system, but it may also result in creating issues for the working systems within the plant itself. Another effect of population growth is the stress that is created by vibrations from construction and the laying of roadways and other utilities over all of the previously installed sewer systems. Sewer systems are also failing because of unstable foundation soils or improper pipe bedding material.
A smoothly functioning sewer system is a service to the public that is taken for granted. Because the system is mainly out of sight, there is little knowledge of how important it is, or the serious consequences that result from continued ignorance of their owned pipes. As more and more large sewer systems reach the end of their useful lives, major programs to repair them will have to be undertaken. An ongoing program of long-term analysis and rehabilitation could greatly extend the serviceability of existing systems, reduce operating costs, reduce the need to expand the system, and protect the environment from the consequences of a major collection system failure. If you have any questions concerning your personal sewer line, don’t hesitate to ask. We are open 24/7 for emergency services as well.