Common Commercial Sewer Problems and How to Repair
A clear and functional sewer system is necessary to maintain health, hygiene, and safety in your commercial establishment. Sewer and drainage systems remove human waste, excess rainwater or floodwater, kitchen waste, and other sources of liquid and solid waste. In a commercial setting, drains can be affected by many of the same factors that cause problems in residential sewers, just on a much larger scale. Here are descriptions of some common commercial sewer problems and how to prevent or repair them as needed.
- Problem: Tree roots are highly adept at finding the moisture and nutrients they need to grow, and a sewer line provides a readily available source. Roots will extend themselves toward moisture, which means they can break sewer pipes and grow inside sewer lines. This can create sewer line leaks and blockages. Tree roots can expand so much that they will completely block a sewer line.
- Solution: Tree roots in the sewer line are common commercial sewer problems that require professional drain clearing. The tree roots may be cut apart and removed with saws or high-pressure water. Trees near the sewer lines may have to be moved or taken out altogether. Broken or cracked sewer pipes may have to be replaced.
Grease or Food Buildup
- Problem: Restaurants and commercial kitchens send much of their kitchen waste, especially food and grease, down the drains and into the sewer line. Even small employee kitchens with garbage disposals can contribute significant amounts of material such as food, coffee grounds, and grease. Sometimes this material can accumulate in sewer lines and create a clog. Grease, especially, tends to solidify and build up in drainage pipes.
- Solution: Food-based clogs will have to be cleared by rodding, high-pressure water, or other physical removal methods. Grease traps or food screens are preventive methods that can keep larger items out of the drain system. Use the disposal to get rid of food matter in small batches, and avoid using the disposal to get rid of banana peels, corn husks, corn cobs, celery, or other bulky, fibrous foods.
- Problem: One of the more common commercial sewer problems is the presence of foreign objects in sewer lines. Bathroom drains and sanitary sewer lines are intended to handle human waste and toilet paper. No other material should ever be flushed down either a commercial or residential bathroom drain. In commercial settings, it’s difficult to completely prevent the introduction of foreign material in bathroom drains and sewer lines. For example, bathroom users in a large retail establishment may flush paper towels, female hygiene products, cigarettes, baby wipes, cotton swabs, and even insects and small dead animals. These items can easily clog a sewer line.
- Solution: In this case, the best solution is prevention. Do everything possible to prevent customers and employees from flushing foreign objects down the bathroom drains. Post signs warning against flushing these items. If foreign objects clog your sewer drain, it will require professional service to clear it by rodding, hydro-jetting, or other technique. In severe cases, the sewer lines may need to be dug up and replaced.
Broken, Cracked, or Collapsed Lines
- Problem: Over time, sewer and drain lines can sustain damage from freeze and thaw cycles, ground movement, tree roots, or settling of the building. Damaged sewer lines can cause water to saturate the surrounding ground, which can increase damage from freezing and thawing. Often damaged drain lines are not technically clogged; instead, the waste is simply escaping the pipe before reaching the main sewer.
- Solution: Damaged drain and sewer lines will have to be dug up and replaced by a plumbing professional.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information on common commercial sewer problems and how to prevent and repair them, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!