Sewer LineOne of the most neglected parts of the home is the drain and sewer system. Two common problems that people experience with their drain and sewer are slow drains and gurgling from the toilet as water runs. Gurgling sounds could indicate that the drains are filling up with water and reaching a point where they’re almost completely blocked. The sound comes from air pockets working their way back to the surface because the sewer pipe is filled with water. If you experience this issue, call a plumber immediately as the pipe could become completely blocked, resulting in water overflow.

History of Sewer Pipes

Terra-Cotta

Terra Cotta Plumbing PipesUp to the 1930s, the main sewer pipe in the metro area was known as “terra-cotta,” a hard vitrified clay pipe that can still be found in many older homes around Atlanta, Decatur and Midtown and was commonly used as a gutter channeling drain system during storms. It’s easily identifiable as an orange-colored baked clay pipe, similar to the plain pots used in gardening. This pipe grows brittle with age and tree roots commonly enter the pipe through the joints, where the pipe is joined together. Repairs while doable are difficult because the pipe can shatter when exposed to oxygen again after many years. If you still have terra-cotta pipes in your home, consult with a plumber about replacement.

Orangeburg

There are several neighborhoods around Atlanta like Marietta and Decatur that were constructed using a pipe known as Orangeburg. Primarily a post-war alternative to iron, this style of pipe was used into the early 1970s in some locations. Unfortunately, if you have this type of pipe in your home, repairs are next to impossible because the pipe flattens out over time.

Cast-Iron

Cast-iron pipes and drains were used in the 1950s through the 1970s and are prevalent in a multitude of homes in the metro area. This pipe is easily identifiable as a black iron drain and still used in some commercial locations today. It’s known for dependability and an approximate fifty-year lifespan. With maintenance and treatment using enzymatic and bacteriological products, the lifespan can be extended. Over time however, the drain produces a layer of rust followed by a layer of grease and another layer of rust, until the pipe almost completely fills with solid waste. This is known as an “impacted pipe” and usually must be cut out and replaced.

Cast-iron drains are used primarily as a residential and building drain and for sewers outside which can result in filling up with tree roots. In some instances this can be resolved with high-pressure water, also known as hydro-jetting, although this process requires a point of access outside the residence. This point of access is known in plumbing terms as an “external clean out” and must be installed by a professional.

PVC

In the late 1970s and 1980s, black plastic pipe known as ABS was manufactured which didn’t last long, and the pipe was quickly replaced by polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC. ABS piping is still being sold and used to date. This pipe is fairly dependable, although it has a tendency to become impacted with solid waste over time. PVC is prevalent in homes constructed in the mid- to late-1980s and after. The pipe is durable and dependable when installed properly. Unfortunately many times it is not properly installed. The problems can range from improperly primed and glued joints to improperly bedded sewer lines. Bardi plumbers can help to resolve these and other plumbing problems.