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Offset Joints and Sewer Problems

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Offset Joints and Sewer Problems

Underground pipes are often installed in segments. These segments can range anywhere from 2’ to 20’ or more. Sometimes some of these sections will shift causing their alignment to become offset.

Most sewer lines built from the 1800’s all the way up through the mid-1980’s were constructed by putting together a large number of short pipe sections. These sections were usually made of clay and were anywhere from 2’ to 4’ in length. Typically, these sections of pipe were stuck together using either concrete, coal tar, oakum, rubber gaskets, and sometimes, nothing at all. These seals are known to wash away over time, leaving the joints of each of these sections of pipe exposed to roots, soil erosion, and shifting.


When the sealers wear away, it allows the pipe to settle down into the “hub” of a connected pipe which will result in a slight offset.

Another main cause of offset pipes is roots. The same way roots can push up and around a concrete sidewalk, they can also move your pipes around causing them to become disjointed and unaligned. When roots are the cause for your pipes disjointing, they can push their way in and further damage the line.

Naturally, any lack of alignment in your pipes is a problem and should be remedied as soon as possible.


The most obvious problem in offset joints is the potential to block up your sewer lines. Various debris and waste can catch on the lip of the offset piece of pipe and build up until it becomes a major problem.

Another potential issue is further root intrusion. Once there is any type of gap in your pipes roots will eventually find their way in. Because the roots will be drawn to the moisture and waste (fertilizer) in your pipes, they will eventually expand and further damage the integrity of your sewer line.

A third and more serious issue with offsets in your sewer system is the hole itself. A hole in your system means that sewage will be escaping from the pipes. As the sewage flows out it will take dirt with it little by little, which can eventually cause a sinkhole.


If you suspect you may have offset joints or any other type of blockage we will gladly camera your line and find out for sure. Just call (253) 331-1206 or click here to request an appointment button on this site to get started today!