Chances are, you aren’t spending too much time thinking about a sewer line during the average day. After all, as long as it’s working right and is taking wastewater away, why would you? Since most homeowner’s policies don’t cover sewer line repair and replacement, it’s important to be aware of the signs before you develop a larger issue.
There are two main problems that can happen with a sewer line. The first is a clog and the second is a break. Each have their own signs and symptoms. Knowing what to watch for can help you to recognize the problem while it’s still relatively minor. The faster you take action once you suspect you have a sewer line with a problem, the better your chances of correcting it before expensive damage results.
Look for these signs that your sewer line has a problem and may need to be replaced:
1. A soggy, stinky yard – a broken sewer line will let wastewater leak out into your yard. Soon, it will make its way up through the soil under your lawn. This can cause water to pool in patches in your front yard, regardless of whether or not you’ve had rain recently. Even if you have had rain, if there are puddles in your yard that smell like sewage, you’re going to want to have your sewer line checked and replaced right away. The odds are that you have a break and the longer you wait, the more problematic it will get.
2. Slow drains – if your sewer line has a clog or a leak, it could cause all the drains in your home to run slowly. This isn’t just a problem that will affect one toilet or a sink. It will cause slow drainage throughout your house. Consider this a warning to take fast action before they become blocked altogether. A complete blockage is far more problematic than a slow-running drain.
3. Water backing up in odd places – a blocked or broken sewer line can cause odd things to happen when you use your plumbing. For example, flushing the toilet may make the drain gurgle and bubble in your shower. Using your washing machine could cause a toilet to overflow. Running the sink in your bathroom might cause your toilet to make bubbling noises or make the water level rise in the bowl.
4. Mold growth – if you have noticed water stains and/or mold growth on the walls or a ceiling, it could mean that your sewer line has broken somewhere within the walls. This is particularly true if the water stains and mold are accompanied by the odor of sewage.
5. Rodent or insect problems – as much as it may sound like a scene from a horror movie, if you have a sewer line break, it could provide an easy entrance for rodents and insects. A rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter and a mouse can make it through a hole the size of a dime. Insects barely need any room at all. Broken sewer lines can be an open invitation for these pests to enter your home.
6. Flooding and/or water patches in the basement – in the case of a severe clog or break in a sewer line, water can back up into the foundations and your basement. The earliest warning signs of this problem include damp spots around the drains or foul smelling drains. If you have detected either of these signs, take action right away as more water is sure to come.
Regardless of whether you are connected to the municipal sewer system or you have your own septic tank, there are dozens of issues that can lead to sewer line clogs and breakages. Situations as simple as age, very heavy rains, or tree root issues can be enough to back up or damage the line. It takes only one issue to lead to a large and expensive mess. If you suspect any problems with your sewer line or are concerned about the condition of an aging line, don’t hesitate to contact us at 610-689-8080 so we can conduct an inspection with a camera. This one simple step can save you thousands in future repairs.