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Plague in the Pipes:
The Dangers of Bad Plumbing
and How to Avoid Them

home equity articles and tips


A home's plumbing is an important system that owners can forget about until there is a problem. But if these problems go unchecked, they can be costly in more ways than you might expect and they can cause major health concerns, damage to your property, and unpleasant living conditions. In this article, I want to highlight a few common problems that can affect your plumbing, what to look out for, and how to fix or avoid damage.

Dealing with Clogged Pipes

Clogged pipes are a common annoyance. To avoid clogs, use drain protectors, strainers, hair catchers, and stops to keep hair, food, and other particles from washing into the pipes. Oils and fats also cause clogs to form, so don't pour these down the sink. You can use a plunger to dislodge clogs. Harsh chemicals degrade plumbing over time, so you may want to opt for baking soda and vinegar. When clogs become a persistent problem, it may be a sign of problems with the septic system, sewer lateral, or faulty pipes that could be about to spring a leak.

Hidden Leaks, Major Problems

Since most of the pipes are unseen, leaks can easily go unnoticed for a long time and lead to dry rot, water stains, mold, and insect infestations. Sudden temperature changes, shifting as the house settles, rust, deterioration, and bad workmanship can cause leaky pipes. You'll want to regularly check for wet spots on the ground, on the ceiling, and around water fixtures.

Control Basement Flooding

If you live in an area where floods are common, you may be concerned about sewage backing up into the basement which would require the immediate assistance of a plumber. However, one simple and inexpensive preventative measure is to insert a one-way drain plug into the floor drain. The solution requires some regular maintenance to work properly and may not be the best solution if the water needs to drain out of the basement. Alternatively, you could divert the water into a 3-foot standpipe that is inserted into the floor drain and sealed with a rubber seal. Once flooding has receded, the pipe can be removed. A plumber can help you with long-term solutions that require less maintenance.

Tree Roots and Your Sewer Lateral

Another major problem with sewage around your home can come from damage to the sewer lateral from tree roots. This pipe is buried in the ground and connects your home to the public sewer line. It is especially susceptible to damage from tree root systems which naturally grow toward the moist area around the pipe. Intruding roots can cause cracks and blockages once tiny hair-like roots grow inside the pipe and collect oil, paper, and other material. Damage to this pipe can cause sewer back-ups, mold, pest problems, and even major structural threats like shifting or sinkholes. To prevent a problem, you may want to get rid of older trees and shrubs with aggressive root systems or work with a specialist to manage their roots. Trees should be planted at least 10 feet away from the sewer lateral and it's best to choose smaller species and replace them when they grow too large.


With regular inspection and maintenance by a company like Towers Murray Plumbing, you can avoid disastrous failures in your plumbing and the problems that stem from them. These tips can help you keep plumbing issues under control so that you can protect your investment and stay healthy and safe in your home.