A pipe belly in your sewer line is a serious problem that can happen when a pipe sags or drops out of its original positioning. This isn’t something that can be ignored, as it could lead to severe consequences for your plumbing and the soil surrounding your home. In this article, we’ll dive into what a plumbing belly is, why it happens, and what to do if it happens to your home. 

Understanding Sewer Line Bellies 

When a plumber tells you they’ve found a belly in sewer line repair inspections, they’re referring to a sag or low spot in the pipe. The pipe is still intact (in contrast to channeling, another issue in which the bottom of it has eroded). 

Normally, a sewer pipe has a positive slope that transports waste away from your home using the force of gravity. The guidelines for sewer line design are quite specific; a sewer pipe must decline at least 0.25 inches per every foot of horizontal distance. This guarantees gravity can move wastewater into the municipal sewer line, but a belly disrupts this process as the slope is no longer adequate because a bellied pipe no longer has a positive slope. It bows downward with a negative slope, allowing water to pool or debris to collect in the low area.

Cast iron is difficult to bend except under intense pressure. Therefore, a belly most often occurs at the fitting. While most water may flow over and past the belly at first, what remains trapped can collect additional material. This material, along with the stagnant water, restricts flow within the pipe and causes solids to accumulate.

A clog in a main sewer line is a plumbing emergency and shouldn’t be ignored. If you’ve noticed signs of a clogged pipe or were told about a pipe belly on your property, call Express Plumbing, Heating, & Air as soon as possible. Our expert plumbers offer reliable, fast service you can trust in an emergency.

Detecting a Belly in Your Sewer Line

If your plumbing is backing up, or you’ve noticed strange noises and drainage problems, call Express Plumbing, Heating, & Air for expert plumbing diagnosis and repair. A certified plumber will use video inspection to identify the problem. A video camera is pushed through the line so the technician can see the inside of the pipe on a monitor. This way, cracks, holes, clogs, and slope problems can be instantly identified. 

Consequences of Ignoring a Sewer Line Belly

Sometimes, bellies don’t cause immediate sewage problems, and homeowners choose to leave them alone. In most cases, though, ignoring the problem isn’t a viable solution. Over time, the assemblage of water and debris in the lower parts of the pipe leads to an accumulation that can cause a sewer line blockage

The EPA warns that sewage blockages can cause:

  • Sewage backup into your home
  • Property damage, including damp floors and lawn indentations
  • Contamination that can be dangerous to your health

Sewage issues smell bad and invite moisture-loving pests to your home. Clean-up is often more costly than fixing the belly in the first place.

Sewer Line Repair Options

The approach to plumbing belly repair varies with each case. In most cases, a conventional method is required to correct the slope of the pipe. The ground beneath the sagging sewer line needs to be filled and stabilized. Most belly-in-sewer-line fixes involve:

  • Digging
  • Filling loose ground
  • Compacting the soil
  • Reinforcing pipe joints
  • Ensuring the line is secure and meets the latest codes

Trenchless pipe bursting or replacement isn’t usually recommended because the issue involves the land surrounding the pipe as much as the pipe itself. 

Preventive Measures

As a homeowner, the best thing you can do is hire professionals to install a sewer line. There’s a wide range of reasons why a plumbing belly happens, like:

  • Soil erosion
  • Shifting ground material
  • Foundation settlement
  • Earthquakes
  • Extreme heat
  • Heavy rain
  • Loose material around the pipe
  • Pressure from tree roots
  • A broken pipe joint
  • Poor installation
  • Improper soil compaction at the installation site

An expert sewage installation company like Express Plumbing, Healing, & Air considers and mitigates all of these issues. We assess the surrounding area, look for potential problems, and select the proper size and grade of bedding material before pipe installation begins. Our skilled plumbers also ensure the correct slope during installation so that waste doesn’t build up and cause excessive localized pressure that can cause sagging. Ground stability and support for the pipe are also key considerations during installation.

Hiring a Professional for Sewer Line Repair

Call Express Plumbing, Heating, & Air for your plumbing repair, installation, or inspection needs in the Boise, Idaho area. Our helpful team and licensed plumbers understand the importance of receiving fast, efficient, and effective service to solve your sewer issues. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify if my sewer line has a belly or low spot?

The only way to know for certain if your sewer line has a belly is to have a professional plumber check it out. They use scopes and cameras to see what’s causing your issues. 

Is a belly in the sewer line a common issue, or does it happen rarely?

Pipe bellies are more common in homes with cast iron, PVC, or clay pipes and in areas prone to earthquakes. Idaho rates fairly high for earthquake activity, so there’s more potential for homes to settle and the ground to move under the pipes.

Are there specific signs or symptoms that homeowners should look out for to identify a sewer line belly?

If your plumbing backs up, you hear strange sounds, or your home has drainage problems, consider calling a plumber to check for a belly in your sewer line.

Contact Express Plumbing, Heating, & Air

Customers throughout Boise and the Treasure Valley depend on us for all types of piping services. We can quickly assess your sewer line if you suspect a problem. When excavation service is required, we focus on planning, preparation, and effective management. 

Sewer line repair and replacement is a job for the experts. If you have any questions or are ready to book a service call, please contact us at (208) 886-4724 or schedule online to have our skilled technicians visit your home and explain the options. You can count on us for high-quality service.

Brad Jordan

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