Drain Line Scale 101

Scale can be a major issue in your home's main drain. Understanding its causes, issues, and how to prevent it is vital.

Pipe Scale Causes

Pipe scale is nothing more than an accumulation of minerals and rust on the inner surfaces of the drain pipes. This accumulation can be from minerals in the water, such as in areas with hard water, or from mineral components in the organic matter that is flowing through the drain lines. Rust and corrosion from the pipe itself or from appliances that drain into the pipe can also lead to scale.

Cast iron drain lines are most prone to pipe scale because they are more likely to rust or corrode. Other metals may also suffer the same issue, although not usually as extensively. PEX and PVC drain pipes don't typically develop scale, or if they do it is in small amounts from minerals present in the drain water.

Damages and Concerns

The main concern with scale in the pipes is clogs and backups. Any buildup along the inner surface makes it much more likely that grease, soap scum, and then further drain debris will adhere to the sides of the pipe and develop into a major clog. A major clog will cause a sewage backup into your home, but even smaller clogs can cause issues like slow drains and foul odors in the home.

If rust and corrosion of metal drain pipes are contributing to the scale buildup, then there is a concern even greater than a clog. Pipes can rust through, which means you will have sewage leaking into your home or yard. Main drain leaks are not something you can ignore, either, as they are both damaging and they pose a health concern.

Maintenance Tactics

There are ways to prevent scale issues with regular maintenance. An annual drain cleaning will prevent scale residue from building up along the inside of the drain line. Hydrojetting, also sometimes called water jetting, is the best option because it completely removes all residue from the inside of the pipe with the use of a high-pressure jet of water.

In homes with cast iron or metal pipes, you may also want to take preventative action to stop rust and corrosion concerns. You can have a liner deployed inside of the pipe. This will seal the metal off from the water flowing through it. Not only does lining the pipe cut down on scale, but it also extends the life of the drain line.

Contact a drain cleaning service if you suspect that major pipe scaling is impacting your sewer lines.