Sewer pipes and soggy soil: sinkholes explained 1

Sewer pipes and soggy soil: sinkholes explained

Officially, sinkholes are a depression or hole in the ground caused by some form of collapse of the surface layer. Big ones are caused by a chemical dissolution of of carbonate rocks underneath top layer of soil. They’re also known as a cenote, sink, sink-hole, swallet, swallow hole or doline. They can vary in size from a single metre to 600m both in diameter and depth, and in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms.


Santa BarbaraSinkholes explained: Cenote in Homun, Mexico

Santa Barbara Cenote in Homun, Mexico

Of course, human-affected sinkholes most commonly occur in urban areas due to water main breaks or sewer collapses when old pipes give way. The first sign is often a soggy and foul smelling patch of lawn or dirt. Sometimes, if your lawn is looking particularly green and lush, whilst the surrounding grass is decidedly not, it can be a sign that your sewer pipe is compromised.


Often the old clay pipes are joined together with rubber rings called collars which eventually corrode over time. This causes the rubber ring to perish and leak water into the surrounding area. Two reasons why this is not good for the drainage system is that it loosens and washes away the supporting soil thanks to the water constantly running in your pipes. Before you know it the pipe collapses as the existing soil has been washed away. 


The second reason is that when you have leaking sewer water into the grounds, it acts as a fertiliser which trees love. Their roots feed off this leaking water and start to grow into the old, cracked collars as a very fine root, regardless of which tree is nearby. They then start to get thicker and stronger – and boom, you have a blockage. It’s always better to resolve this issue before it gets to a point where it can no longer be relined.


Broken sewer pipes were traditionally an expensive exercise. Excavating gardens and soil, not to mention concrete, and even roads and tarmac. Today, with trenchless technology, we can get to the source of the problem before it becomes a bigger one. Got a blockage or a suspicious sinkhole? Call The Relining Company now.

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