The first signs of a sewer line blockage that could require repair in a San Diego home or business can be obvious or subtle. It often starts with a slow drain or clogged toilet, or a putrid smell from a drain or shower. Homeowners may see temporary success in unclogging drains with household drain formulas like Drano or Liquid Plumber. But often, especially in San Diego’s older neighborhoods like Mission Hills, Kensington, Hillcrest and North Park, drain problems can be traced to sewer line blockages far from the drain or toilet. If the plumbing in your house is old, meaning installed between the 1920’s and the 1970’s, there’s a good chance that the city main sewer lines are old as well.

Sewer line blockages can usually be categorized as follows:

Build-up of cooking oils and other kinds of grease

Tree or plant root intrusion into the sewer pipes

Sewer line collapse caused by old and deteriorated sewer pipes

Debris entering the sewer system from illegal or improper pipe connections.

What Is a Belly in a Sewer Pipe?

A sewer line belly is kind of what it sounds like” a sag or low spot in the sewer line. A normal sewer lateral as illustrated below has a slope that relies on gravity to help with flow regulation. A sewer pipe with a “belly” obstructs the normal flow of waste water, causing backups and other issues because waste water, organic sediment and man-made materials collect in the belly “curve.”

Diagram comparing the downward slope of a

The Main Causes of Sewer Bellies?

Sewer belly problems can often be traced to poor initial specification and planning of the waste system.  Inferior installation is also a common cause of sewer line bellies. It’s critical that proper compaction of the soil underlying the sewer pipes; high quality landscaping materials; and correct slope are all taken into consideration to help avoid a sewer belly problem. But even with careful planning and proper installation, normal occurrences of nature can help roots find their way into pipes; and elements including sun, rain or heat can shift the soil or contort plastic pipes, eventually causing sewer bellies.

Diagnosing Sewer Line Belly Problem?

Professional plumbing technicians at Carini use the latest technologies and best practices to diagnose sewer problems and determine if the problem is related to a sewer pipe belly.  Sewer line video camera inspections can often find and help diagnose these types of problems or rule them out for other appropriate repairs.  For prompt service on sewer line problems and repairs, call our plumbing department 619-843-0997.