There are literally thousands of miles of sewer and water pipes criss crossing the U.S., and many of those pipes are decades old. Because of that, pipes leak and break every day. It’s estimated that America’s aging sewer pipes leak out more than 1 trillion — that’s right, trillion with a “t” — every year. Even the sewage treatment plants, which are constantly monitored and inspected, spill up to 10 billion gallons of untreated sewage each year. Part of the reason these spills happen so frequently is that the infrastructure is underground and they are hard to detect. But they also occur because of the lack of investment in upgrading systems.
It’s not just government-owned pipes that have problems. There are plenty of issues with private water and sewer infrastructure as well. A burst sewage line or a burst water line can cause a lot of damage to property, not to mention the inconvenience caused by not having water or not being able to flush a toilet. Leaks, even small ones, also can cause big problems. And if you do have a problem and need water or sewer line repair, it can be quite expensive. Typically, homeowners and other property owners are responsible for the water and sewer lines on their property that feed into the mains. Even a no-dig pipe repair can cost thousands of dollars.
If you do suspect a leak, you will have to have a plumber come out to check. The plumber will likely do smoke testing or some other method to test for leaks. Smoke testing involves running smoke through pipes to find places where water can escape or where water from the outside can enter. It is a relatively straightforward and reliable way to test for leaks, especially in underground pipes. It’s also rather quick, usually able to be completed in an hour. Smoke testing is common in sewer line inspections.
Aging sewer and water pipes can cause huge problems that are expensive to fix. Because you are responsible for the lines that are on your property, it’s a good idea to stay on top of things and have your pipes inspected regularly.
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