While underground waste line pipes are pretty much concealed from sight, it doesn’t mean they are impregnable to damage. Damaged pipes if left unchecked, can be disastrous to the waste line system and personal properties. It is however possible to fix a hidden broken waste pipeline, although underground pipe repairs and identification of any type is specialized work, and requires some unique set of skills because it defers slightly from regular plumbing. However, this article will guide you on how to identify damaged waste line pipes, what causes the damages and how to fix them when and if you encounter them.
SIGNS YOU HAVE A DAMAGED PIPE FROM HIDDEN WASTE LINES
Although, it is quite visually impossible to know there is a damaged pipe in hidden waste lines, but there are significant signs that can help ascertain whether or not you have one, most times when these signs are spotted early and acted upon they could very well prevent any serious damage. The most frequent signs of a damaged or broken hidden waste line pipe are:
- Rats infestation becomes quite evident
- Waste line blockages begin to occur
- Growth of Mould on your personal properties and walls.
- Bad odors begin to emanate
- Extra green and lush patches of grass become apparent
- Cracks begin to appear in your walls and foundation
- Plughole becomes slow when draining
- Sinkholes begin to appear in your backyard
It isn’t uncommon to miss and ignore some of these signs listed above when you have a damaged waste line pipe. So it always advisable and quite necessary to get your property professionally and thoroughly checked every so often; So as to eliminate the threat of a casually damaged waste line’s pipe causing a serious damage to your property. Although it is possible to fix a broken or damaged waste line pipe yourself, it is however advisable to seek a professional assistance from an experienced sewer.
CAUSES OF DAMAGES IN HIDDEN WASTE PIPELINES
Most waste materials contain chemical compounds that react with pipes; damaging plastic pipes and corroding pipes with metallic properties. By understanding the common causes of damages to pipes, you can take necessary steps to avoid it. The following are common causes of damages in waste line pipes.
- Corrosion: Your sewer lines are most likely made of metal, and most metals corrodes over a certain period of time since they most likely will be in contact with chemical substances that causes corrosion when they react with each other.
- Clogs: When debris, food, waste and any other foreign object find their way down to your drain and cluster up which blocks passage of other materials, we say a clog has occurred in that particular pipeline. It is important to note that flushing anything except waste and toilet paper is destined to create a clog and cluster up the passage line.
- Movements: The growth of roots may interfere with the hidden waste line system. Earthquakes may also be a monumental movement that damages pipelines, as the pipe twist and bend because of the actions of the earthquake; a crack might surface in the process.
HOW TO DETECT DAMAGED PIPES IN HIDDEN WASTE PIPELINES
In most hidden waste line repairs, the damages aren’t immediately apparent which implies that special and designated tools are required to generate the precise location of the problems in the pipes. Most pipes concealed in soils are quite excruciating and more difficult to detect and might require excavating to implement repairs and replacement. Some designated inspection tools include:
- HD sewer inspection cameras: They are frequently used designated tools for detecting and inspecting pipelines in a hidden waste line. They are usually remotely controlled from the surface above the ground and connected to a screen; they also come in different sizes. They have many ranges of features and functions for example lighting, HD recording, wireless systems, and zoom capabilities. Once inserted into an underground pipe from an access point, the camera runs inside the pipe and provides visual feedback to the operator in the control panel. The videos and images obtained from the inspection gives clues to where the leaking or cracking points are located.
- Geo-phone/Radar: Contrary to what you might think, Geo-phones are remarkably simple yet ingenious devices like gravity meters. They are great detection tools that act as a pair of stethoscopes, allowing you to listen to the noise of the leaks underneath the soil surface. With the Geo-phone, there is no need to do any excavation before the leaking point is found. It is quite easier and much quicker to carry out repairs and restorations since the use of excavation to carry out repairs on the waste line pipe would be minimal or non-existent.
Some other tools you might need are:
- Excavators: They are special tools used to dig out the soil surface covering the hidden waste line pipes.
- Jackhammers and Air compressors
- Shoring: They are used for trench protection.
- Personal protection equipment.
- Special Couplings for various types and sizes of pipes.
Most of them can be gotten at any reputable hardware store. However, investing in all of these items is not for a one time project or repair job as they are quite an expensive piece of equipment.
MATERIALS USED IN HIDDEN PIPE LINE REPAIRS
If you have found exact location of a leak or crack, the next step is identifying the type of material you will need to repair or replace the damaged pipe. There are two categories of materials that are going to be discussed herein; the two types of materials are temporary and permanent repair type materials.
Temporary repair pipe materials:
The following lists are temporary repair types materials used for repairs or replacement in damaged hidden waste line pipes. Temporary repair makes little or no sense though since about 80% to 90% of hidden waste line repairs works involve mostly excavation and then back-filling, they evidently last longer than expected if covered. Materials used for temporal repair include;
- Rubber Connectors/coupling: There are times when leaks and cracks happen in a readily accessible region, the easiest and quickest way to repair this sort of crack or leak temporarily is by using a rubber coupling. This process is quite reliable and requires you to cut some parts to make sure both ends of the connector fit perfectly to the pipe.
- Pipe Wraps: They are used mostly because of their availability; they are readily available in the stores and are used in repairs that are quite urgent. They are applied to all types of damaged pipes including metals and plastic, once applied the wrap usually hardens on the pipe and can most times provide structural support for an old regions of the pipes that appear old or are old.
- Pipe Clamps: Pipe clamps are the metal version of the rubber connector mentioned earlier, it has quite the same working phenomenon as the rubber connector but does not involve cutting. Pipe clamps can be fitted 360 degrees around the region where the leak or crack has occurred. Some local plumbers refer to pipe clamps as permanent repair tools.
- Epoxy Solutions: Epoxy compounds or solutions are quite common and are used for temporary repairs. Epoxy solutions completely cover the regions where the leaks or cracks occur when applied to it which makes it quite popular among local plumbers.
The four types of temporary repair materials are quite effective but the best types of repair are total replacement to the affected region. Most local plumbers refer to them as temporary solutions you can perform before they themselves arrive. Newer version of waste pipes, such as plastic and copper, are more repair-friendly. Damaged regions can be repaired using the mentioned materials above and can last many years if done right and correctly.
Permanent repair pipes or replacement pipes:
It is advisable not to perform a permanent repair or replacement work by yourself as there are codes guiding them that only a licensed and experienced plumber can perform. Below are some materials used for Permanent repairs or replacement jobs:
- Ductile iron pipe: Ductile iron pipes are typically the material required by code for water service liens larger than 2”. In some special cases where the ground is quite unstable, it may be required for waste lines.
- K copper water tubing: They are used typically when the water service line is 2” or lower. It is quite expensive to install.
- Extra heavy cast iron waste line pipe: They are usually recognized as the material of choice for most established plumbers.
HOW TO FIX A BROKEN PIPE BY YOURSELF
If you are still adamant that you don’t want any professional help, here is a detailed a step-by-step process to guide you through it.
- Locate the pipe: Nothing can commence without locating the region where the crack or leak has occurred; excavation or digging of a hole into the ground to find the area where the pipe has been damaged is essential, most times, the region where the damaged pipe is located usually shows outward signs of which we mentioned previously, they may include wet patches, evidence of sinkholes and extra green grass. After digging and locating the damaged pipe, dig an additional five to six inches beneath the broken pipe area. This will provide you with enough space to make repairs or replacement you need to carry out.
- Remove damaged region of pipe: You will definitely need to cut through the broken region to fix the broken pipe. To accurately cut the broken region, you will have to take a measurement and marking of 1.5 to 2 inches either side of the broken region of the pipe.
- Replace cut out region: You will obviously need to replace the region of the damaged pipe you previously cut out with a new piece of pipe that is advisably more durable than the previously installed pipe material. It is important to use the same measurement similar to the cut out to avoid future leakages.Plastic materials can be used to replace steel cutouts; whilst steel can also be utilized to replace plastic cut-outs. All in all, composite installations are allowed provided they are well fitted and water tight.
- Refill the hole: After replacing the cut out region with a new piece of pipe, you will need to refill the hole to provide extra support to the waste line pipe and to make it hidden again.
CORROSION IS A TRICKY ONE TO COMBAT IN AN UNDERGROUND SEWAGE PIPE; HERE ARE A FEW PREVENTION AND REPAIR TIPS
It is also worth noting that corrosion can be prevented with the use of coatings or plastic liners; Coatings are essential tools used for corrosion preventive measure and to repair of light damages caused by corrosion to pipes made of metal.
As a homeowner, you should understand the potential damage that could result from an unrepaired pipe damage in hidden waste lines, if these damages to the pipe are left unattended, it will cause severe damages to personal properties and possibly life. You should also understand the benefits carrying out temporary repairs by yourself as it serves as a first aid measure until the specialists arrive, permanent repairs should be given out to professional plumbers so you risk ruining and damaging the pipeline channel further if you have no experience handling these issues whatsoever. Prevention of the causes of damages to pipes in waste line should be your utmost priority so you don’t waste effort, time and money.