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12 Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Sewer Line

October 02, 2023

Is Your Sewer Line Broken?

A home’s sewer line is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of the plumbing system. Allowing these lines to deteriorate may lead to tens of thousands of dollars in exterior and interior damage. Looking for the warning signs mentioned here and calling a local plumber immediately if these signs occur could help you avert even bigger issues.

Foul Odors

Sewer lines are out of sight and out of mind, for the most part. If you can smell a sewer odor outside or inside the home, there’s a problem. In most cases, these foul odors are brought about by issues with a sewer line.

Backups and Blockages

Have you been dealing with backups and blockages in your toilets, showers, or bathtubs? These backups can actually happen because of a blockage or a break in the main sewer line. Sewer line issues often affect the home’s drain openings. Consider the nature of the blockage; if only one fixture is affected, it’s usually a problem only involving that drain. If all the home’s drains are blocked, the problem likely lies in the sewer line.

Mold Growth

Mold growth can affect any part of the home. If a drain pipe breaks, mold may develop. The broken pipe will allow moisture to leak behind the walls, causing hidden mold damage that may cost thousands of dollars to fix.

Slow Drains

Slow drainage may indicate a problem more serious than a minor clog. Though some clogs can be easily removed to restore proper drainage, that doesn’t always help. If clearing the drain doesn’t work, other solutions may be required, such as a sewer camera inspection. These cameras are designed to go down the drain and help pinpoint exactly where and what the issue could be.

Gurgling Toilets

If the toilet is making strange noises, it’s not a good sign. When toilets make gurgling noises with each flush, a broken sewer line may be to blame. The gurgling noises come when air is trapped and then released. Hearing this can indicate that the sewer is full of water.

Yard Waste

Even if the home isn’t connected to the city’s sewer system, it still has a sewer line. These lines are connected to cesspools or septic tanks, which are usually buried in the yard. If waste is accumulating in the yard, there’s a serious issue. It could be a cracked sewer line, a failed septic tank, or a clogged drain field.

Foundation Cracks

One of the most evident signs of a broken sewer or drain line is large visible cracking in the foundation. If a sewer or drain line leak goes untreated for an extended time, it may cause foundation cracks and sinkholes in the yard.

Sinking Driveways and Pavers

If you have a walkway, driveway, or patio that’s made of concrete pavers, keep an eye on it. When pavers start to sink, it could be due to sewer line problems. The sinking pavers will look lower than those around them, and they’ll keep sinking because of the sewage-saturated ground.

Lush, Green Grass

Having a beautiful green yard is one thing; having just one area of green grass is quite another. If there’s a patch of grass that seems to be much greener and more lush than the rest, it may be due to a broken sewer line. Waste acts as an underground fertilizer, which causes the grass to grow at an accelerated rate.

Rodent Problems

No one likes to hear about this sign of sewer issues, simply because rodents are unwelcome houseguests. Rats, mice, and other pests live in the sewers, and they can access the home through broken pipes.

Insect Infestations

The presence of insects is another reliable indicator of sewer or drain line issues. Bugs such as cockroaches, palmetto bugs, and sewer flies can get into the home through cracked pipes. If you’re seeing more bugs than normal and an exterminator can’t get rid of them, have your sewer lines checked.

Large Trees Nearby

Tree roots are a common cause of sewer line breakages. A tree’s root structure can reach for hundreds of feet underground, crushing sewer pipes. If you have old, large trees in your yard, they may be part of the problem.

If Common Fixes Are Unsuccessful

If you’re always dealing with plumbing issues, it’s the right time to seek professional help. A plumbing expert can find the cause of your issues and safely replace or repair the sewer line if necessary.

Have you seen any of the above signs? If so, there may be a serious problem with your home’s sewer or drains. Don’t ignore these issues and allow them to cause thousands of dollars in water damage. Call Patrick Riley | Isley's for prompt diagnosis and repair. We're here to handle all your plumbing emergencies.

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By Ty Lindsay

Ty Lindsay is the Director of Field Operations at Patrick Riley | Isley’s and a 15-year veteran of the plumbing and HVAC trades. In 2010, Ty earned his Journeyman’s plumbing license. He became a Master Plumber five years later and earned his Journeyman HVAC technician’s license that same year. Ty’s breadth of knowledge in plumbing and HVAC includes both residential and commercial work. He’s been a loyal member of the Patrick Riley | Isley’s team since 2016.