Root Cause, Sewers, Trees, and Toilets

Whenever there is a change within your community or your home’s infrastructure, there is a ripple effect.  In the case of this posting, I’d like to discuss the impact of landscaping and excavating.

Earlier this year, a new high school was started, which is great for the community!  Unfortunately, it came with a few concerns, one being the need to use dynamite during excavation.  Dynamiting went on for several weeks, even months, and during that time, we (me and the neighbors) could feel the shockwaves.  We wondered if this would cause damage to our homes.  Our glasses tinkled and books shifted, so imagine our concern for the foundations of our homes.  Then, I wondered, what about our water connections?

One thing I noticed during this time, is that the water supply to the commodes slowed, and I heard the water pipes ‘groan and moan’ after every flush.  Professionals call this ‘water hammer’.  This results when the momentum of the water following a flush makes the pipe rattle because there isn’t enough air at the end of the line to buffer the quick change in pressure.  So, how could this happen?

According to the professionals, this typically occurs if the vent pipe, the one over the bathrooms on the roof, is clogged with debris, cutting off the air flow in the DWV (drain, waste and vent) system.  The air buffer can fill with water over time as well, especially in older homes.  This does not exclude a disruption in the water or vent system during major building excavations.  Shockwaves can compromise connections or disrupt shutoff valves, causing the air buffer to fill with water, or set off a cascade of blockages.

So, what do we do?  If ‘water hammer’ gets worse or continues for more than a week (sometimes the clog clears up), call a professional to determine and fix the cause.  I don’t have the skills, equipment, or motivation to undertake such a task, and I am not qualified to advise otherwise.

If the vent is blocked, it is often because there is a tree too close to the house, clogging the vent with leaves and small branches.  This can happen any time throughout the year, during storms and when trees shed their leaves, especially in the fall.  If this is the case, a plumber will have the equipment to clear the blockage.  And while there, have the plumber check your sewer line too.  If a tree is close to the house, especially in older homes, tree roots can find their way into the sewer lines, slowly blocking the drain.  You don’t want sewer problems!  In my humble opinion, it is better to take preventative action rather than restorative action when it comes to sewers.

Plumbing Forum:  Moaning Plumbing | Home Depot

Plumbing Forum: Moaning Sound … | Do It Yourself

How to Clean a Main Line Sewer Blockage | Thumb Nail Ranch (informational purposes only)

Drains Not Draining?  Sewer Line Clog Solutions | Roto Rooter




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