Sewer Line Belly VS Pipe Channeling

“Your sewer line has a belly”, said your plumber after performing a video inspection of your horizontal sewer line. However, if you ask Pipelining Technologies, we will tell you that 99% of the time, the aforementioned “belly in the sewer line” will turn out to be a misdiagnosis of “channeling”. What is a true sewer line belly? What is sewer line channeling? How are these two conditions accurately diagnosed and repaired? Knowing the difference is critical to choosing the most appropriate and cost-effective sewer line repair option.Sewer Line Belly vs Pipe Channeling

What is a Sewer Line Belly, Sag, or Low Area?

A sewer line belly, sag, or low area, can be identified by a pipe holding water after flow has stopped AND other causes of pooling water such as debris build-up and channeling have been ruled out. Sewer line bellies or low areas become problems when debris collects and causes a blockage or backup. A belly in a sewer line, sag, or low area is often caused by geological events such as soil erosion, foundation settlement, earthquakes, or by human error such as poor soil compaction or poor installation. More often than not a belly or low area will occur at the fitting as compared to a bend in the middle of a solid pipe, as cast iron would require immense pressure in order to bend, which just doesn’t happen especially here in South Florida where earthquakes are not a factor.
Sewer Line Belly, sag, low area.

Sewer Line Belly Repair

So what about repairing a sewer line belly? If the possibility of sewer line channeling has been ruled out then, unfortunately, the only way to repair a sewer line belly, sag, low area, or back-pitch would be conventional replacement of the affected section(s) of pipe in order to reinstate proper slope.

What is Sewer Line Channeling?

Sewer line channeling occurs when running water cuts a course into the bottom of a sewer line over time similar to the formation of a ravine, canyon, or gully. In many cases, by the time a sewer line channel has become a problem, the bottom of the pipe may be completely GONE. Such a vulnerability provides an access point for tree roots and insects, which may make their way into your home. Channeling is one of the most common sewer problems in horizontal cast iron pipes that we come across at Pipelining Technologies.

Channeling in pipe. Pipe Rot.

Sewer Line Channeling Repair

If after reviewing this article you find that your sewer line is channeled and not bellied, then you may be a candidate for trenchless pipelining. Since a channeled pipe does not necessarily have an issue with slope, pipe lining may be the solution you are looking for. Pipe lining is a non-destructive, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly method of repairing a damaged pipe from the inside by means of inserting an epoxy saturated felt liner into the pipe and letting it cure in place. What that means for you is no digging up your floors or destruction inside your home to repair your sanitary drainage pipes. You won’t even need to leave your home during repairs. The result is a new, PVC-quality pipe within the old one with a 50-year life use expectancy.

Sewer Line Belly vs. Channeling – Why the confusion?

The issue lies with the company performing the video inspection. At first glance, both conditions may have the same symptom – the camera going underwater during a sewer video inspection. However, only after thorough investigation with a jetter can the problem be properly diagnosed.

In conclusion, a belly in a sewer line and channeling are easily confused. We have found that when our customers mention they have a belly in their sewer line, 99% of the time the line is channeled instead. Since a sewer line belly is accompanied by an issue with the pipe’s slope, conventional replacement is the only repair option.  However, channeling differs in that the pipe’s slope (in most cases) remains functional. This means that channeling may be repaired by trenchless pipe lining, saving you time, money, headaches, and the mess associated with conventional replacement.

If you would like more information about whether trenchless pipe lining is right for you, please feel free to contact us.

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2 thoughts on “Sewer Line Belly VS Pipe Channeling”

  1. please take a look at video and advise for solution- we have an 30 years old back pitched cast iron sewer pipe-
    shall we replace it?
    or repair it ?
    what type of repair?
    commercial type hydro-jet cleaning or with pipe lining


    1. Pipe lining won’t fix a pitch issue. If it is truly back pitched then it may need to be replaced. A video inspection will help determine if the pipe is poorly pitched or if it is just scaled.

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