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Sewer line belly vs. pipe channeling – are you wondering what’s wrong with your pipes? What does each diagnosis mean for your property and what repair options do you have?

You might not think the difference between having a sewer line belly or a pipe channeling diagnosis will ever impact you. After all, most people call a specialist to provide a solution and don’t worry too much about the details of the problem. Still, it’s a good idea to understand the difference and what’s involved in each situation. Once you understand the meaning of each condition, you can make the choice in the most appropriate and cost-effective repair options for your sewer line.

The sewer line is something homeowners often take for granted. You probably don’t even think about it as long as it keeps working. When it fails to flow smoothly, or you notice backup or bad odors in your home, you start to think about potential problems. That’s when most people call a pipe lining specialist to diagnose the problem.

How Sewer Lines Are Designed

Have you ever thought about what powers the sewer line to move the wastewater away from your home? It’s not like there’s a motor inside, pulling the wastewater deeper into the main sewer line. The fact is that sewers are designed to use gravity. When your sewer was originally installed, it was placed on a positive slope of at least .25 inches for every foot in distance that the sewer pipe travels. That’s the minimum to allow gravity to pull on the wastewater and carry it away efficiently. To keep working, the pipe needs to remain strong, smooth, and free from damage.

What Is a Sewer Line Belly?

A belly is a sag in the pipe that bows downward, creating a negative slope. Once a sag develops, the flow of the wastewater is no longer effective. Some of the wastewater will move across the belly normally. The rest gets trapped inside the sag, becoming stagnant over time. When more wastewater enters the pipe, it strikes against the stagnant water, slowing or blocking its movement. Over time, particles of waste accumulate in the belly, creating a solid clog. Eventually, the entire pipe could become clogged. With a belly, you will usually have problems with wastewater not draining out.

Sewer Belly Causes

Several external and internal forces can lead to a sewer line belly. If something causes the soil on the outside of the pipe to shift, it may cause the pipe to change shape. Sometimes specialists cut corners during the sewer line installation, keeping it from working effectively. If the line breaks at the joints, the pipe can take on a different shape, potentially creating a belly.

Some specialists only recommend repairing a sewer line belly if it’s causing a problem. They may suggest letting it go if there’s little to no risk that it will get worse. The problem is that the problem has already advanced to this level. Who knows how much or when it will turn into a more serious problem?

The reason many homeowners prefer to take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach is that the only repair method for bellies is to replace the affected section of pipe. Installing a new pipe will restore the slope and improve the integrity of the existing pipe. Unfortunately, this is often a large project that involves a lot of time and money. Trenchless pipe repair methods offer a less disruptive and cost-effective method of pipe repair over conventional methods. A belly is one of the exceptions where these methods aren’t recommended.

Do-It-Yourself Sewer Lines

You can install a new sewer line as a do-it-yourself project. Before you rush out and buy the new pipe and rent an excavator, you’d better consider the scope of the project. Installing a sewer line is a hard job and it takes a lot of planning. The first step is to check with your local utility company to find out if there are any other lines that could result in disaster. In San Diego, you need to call 811 to check for gas pipelines.

The next step is to map out the sewer line route. Compare the location of the sewer line with other lines. Evaluate the materials you need including pipes and joints or T sections. You need to have everything ready once you begin the excavation. Just any pipes won’t do. You need to keep the proper grade. Remember, if the original pipes weren’t installed correctly, you need to keep gravity and slope in mind when you install the new pipes. There is also the issue of installing traps, providing adequate insulation, and where to run the lines.

The problem with installing a new sewer line or replacing the pipe with a belly yourself is that there’s a lot that comes between you and success. Trying to cut costs by doing it yourself could end up costing you a lot more than hiring a professional.

What Is Sewer Line Channeling?

Sewer line channeling is the development of a channel into the bottom of a sewer line. The motion of the water continually crossing the same area of the pipe causes it to wear down. The damage also makes the pipe vulnerable to the infiltration of tree roots, insects, and more. Sewer line channeling is a common problem in cast iron sewer pipes. Sometimes, the pipe is already gone by the time you realize there’s a problem.

Some signs of sewer line channeling include odd sewage odors, green patches in your yard, and water seepage. Like bellies, channeling sometimes causes slow drainage, making it easier to confuse the two situations.

One major difference when considering a sewer line belly vs pipe channeling is that with the latter condition, the sewer line usually retains its slope. Even though the pipe may be completely gone in one area, trenchless pipelining might still be an option. This modern approach to pipe repair doesn’t cause the disruption to your property or your lifestyle that you can expect with traditional plumbing. It also costs thousands of dollars less.

Sewer Line Belly Vs Pipe Channeling: Getting Past the Confusion

Specialists who get calls from clients saying they have a sewer line belly often end up with a pipe that’s channeled. Initially, both problems seem the same. Once you call a specialist, the first step is diagnosing the problem with a special sewer camera. But that isn’t enough to identify the whole problem.

The only thing the camera shows in either case is a lot of water. Using a water jet to clear out the water and debris allows the specialist to clearly view the pipe. The importance in distinguishing between the two problems is the difference in the options for repair.

Trenchless Pipelining Repair for Pipe Channeling

Trenchless pipelining is a cost-effective way of repairing plumbing systems without having to dig or remove the pipes. The Perma-Liner Point Repair System lets you repair the damaged area of pipe without digging, no pollution, and no disruption at a fraction of the cost of an entire pipe replacement. The system rehabilitates the pipe at the break without digging up or digging through anything.

The pipelining company will send a sewer camera through the pipe to pinpoint the exact location of the issue and the extent of the damage. The camera is sent through the length of the pipe. The next step is to open and prepare the packer, which will carry the epoxy pipeline through the pipe. The packer has an air hose attached to it. Once the liner is at the location where the repair is needed, the specialist applies the correct air pressure to press the liner against the walls of the pipe. It is left in place until the epoxy has time to cure. Meanwhile, the sewer flow continues through the center of the packer. Once the pipe liner has enough time to cure, the packer is deflated and pulled out of the pipe.

The pipe liners gain access to the pipe from one manhole to the next one. They don’t need to do any digging or make any holes in the ground. After making the repair, they send the camera back into the pipe to ensure no further damage to the pipe exists.

Trenchless pipe lining is becoming a more popular choice to repair and replace damaged pipes. Pipe lining companies use a variety of techniques and materials for different situations. When problems occur with your sewer system, the first step is to call an experienced pipelining company. Once they settle the question of sewer line belly vs pipe channeling, they will tell you your options for trenchless pipeline repairs. Although trenchless technology has limitations, it is the best, most cost-effective option for many issues seen in sewer lines.

If you suspect there is damage to your sewer line, call a company that you can count on for dependable solutions. Contact San Diego Pipelining for a diagnosis of your pipes. We use the latest and most technologically advanced methods available to provide high quality pipe lining services. Our experience, use of superior products, and adhesion to strict installation standards insure a successful pipe repair every time.