When many homeowners first hear of a sewer belly, it’s because they have one, they’re being presented with a big estimate for repair, and they are generally just not sure about what it is they’re facing. Sewer bellies are niche plumbing problems that sometimes cause serious clogs and other times go unnoticed for years. Here is what you need to know about sewer bellies and how you can start to assess how serious yours is.
What is a Sewer Belly?
A sewer line is supposed to slope downward at a gentle angle. This helps keep positive drainage or helps keep sewage flowing out of your home and to the sewer main. A belly is a dip in the line, a spot where the sewer sinks too low and then corrects itself. In this spot, the sewage won’t have the help of gravity to keep moving down the line. Instead, it can get stuck and cause a backup. The likelihood that it causes problems depends on the severity of the belly and other factors.
What Causes Sewer Bellies?
What can cause a sewer to dip? There are several potential circumstances that could create a sewer belly:
- Improper installation: The builder originally put in the sewer line. There are several mistakes they may have made that could have eventually made a sewer belly. Improper grade, improper support, improper grading materials, improper impaction and other mistakes are all possibilities. If this is the case, it’s likely other homes on your street will develop sewer bellies too.
- Home settling: Bad luck and poor soil can make your home settle in a way that causes a sewer belly.
- Geological causes: Earthquakes and other soil disturbances can create a sewer belly.
Sewer bellies are more likely in areas that have earthquakes and more common in PVC sewer pipes, which can be harder to support properly.
How Serious Is It?
Especially because sewer bellies are rarely covered by home insurance, you may want clear answers about how serious this problem really is and whether you actually need to fix it.
There is no single answer to how serious a sewer belly is. Small dips that don’t cause problems with the sewer can be left in place. Major dips, especially those that are signs of other potential problems with the sewer, should be fixed. How do you decide which situation you’re facing?
We suggest that you talk to a plumber that you trust. If you feel like the plumber is suggesting you fix something that doesn’t need to be done or that they aren’t taking the risk of a sewer belly very seriously, ask another. Keep in mind that options like trenchless sewer repair can help lower the cost of these repairs to make them more manageable.
Also, it is worthwhile to note that now that you know you have a sewer belly, you may be required to disclose it when you sell your home. Some buyers will ask for you to get the belly fixed before you sign it over. If you’re looking for a plumber who can handle it in record time, we offer sewer repair in Discovery Bay, Manteca, and more.