How Long Does PVC Sewer Pipe Last?

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    When you move into a new home, the last thing you want to think about is the sewer pipes. Understanding the longevity of the sewer line in your home helps you prepare in advance and avoid unpleasant household repairs.

    In this article we will teach you how long a PVC piping systems last.

    The sewer line carries a home’s wastewater to the shared sewer main in the street. Having a trusted material for your sewer pipes is crucial, as the sewer line performs an essential plumbing function. 

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    Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is a common material for drain pipes, although older homes may have a sewer line made of a different material.

    Common Materials of Sewer Pipes and Longevity

    Most homes have a sewer line made of clay or PVC pipes, depending on when the house was built. However, homeowners may encounter a variety of materials. 

    PVC Plumbing Pipe Lifespan

    Since 1980 most new construction has come with PVC plastic sewer lines, making it the most common material for sewer lines today. PVC pipes are estimated to last for up to 100 years.  

    Clay Piping

    Houses constructed before 1980 typically feature clay sewer pipes, which have a lifespan of up to 60 years. Some new homes still choose to plumb with clay sewer lines. Clay is heavier and more challenging to install than PVC pipe and cannot withstand encroaching tree roots underground. 

    Orangeburg

    From 1860 to 1970, a material called Orangeburg was commonly used in sewer lines. Orangeburg has layers of wood pulp and pitch, giving it a short, 50-year life span and making it difficult to find today. 

    Cast Iron Piping

    Cast iron pipes also may still exist in older homes where they will last up to 100 years. Cast iron sewer lines may be installed in new construction, but the cumbersome nature of handling and installing this extremely heavy material makes it uncommon today.

    Advantages and disadvantages of PVC pipe sewer lines

    PVC pipe is the most commonly found sewer line material in new residential construction because of its durability and effectiveness. This material is inexpensive for drainpipes and easy to cut and install. 

    However, PVC pipes can warp and weaken when exposed to high temperatures and can break if frozen. The joints of a PVC pipe are bulky, and the material is inflexible, which makes it difficult to use in cramped spaces.

    Signs of sewer line damage

    Most homeowners should not need to consider sewer line replacement while they occupy the house because of the longevity of the building materials used in sewer pipes. However, there are a few easy signs to watch out for that indicate you may need a sewer line replacement.

    Homeowners may notice a gurgling sound coming from the toilet or slowly draining sinks, potentially indicating a sewer line issue. Seeing standing water in the yard or water damage or mold growth in the house also may encourage a homeowner to explore sewer line replacement.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does PVC pipe go bad?

    PVC pipe is a plastic pipe that will last for a long time – but will eventually start to break down and experience leaks in the water lines.

    Does PVC pipe get brittle with age?

    A PVC piping system can become brittle and start to show cracks after 10 years or possible sooner if the pipe is under high pressure or in moving soil like clay.

    How often does PVC pipe need to be replaced?

    Most PVC pipes will last 50 years but will often be replaced every 25 years while performing other plumbing repairs.

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