Plumbing problems can be a nightmare to deal with for homeowners. Not only are they inconvenient, but they can get expensive as well, with costs running into the thousands of dollars for the most serious of issues.
Most homeowners will have to use a plumbing snake or plunger to remedy small issues at some point. However, plumbing systems are complex, and the biggest problems usually occur in the main sewer line or lateral line. While you won’t be able to fix those issues yourself, you can prevent disasters by bringing in a professional at the first sign of trouble.
Fortunately, there are red flags you can look for. This article summarizes 9 critical signs that your home sewer line is failing.
1. BLOCKAGES & BACKUPS
Toilet or sink backups will happen from time to time, but consistent backups could signal an issue with the sewer line. A blockage in the mainline will cause backups in every toilet, sink and bathtub/shower in the home.
2. SLOW DRAINS
Slow drains are an early sign of the formation of a blockage. If the blockage isn’t addressed, it will eventually lead to backups. You may be able to clear minor blockages with a simple unclogging method such as a drain snake/auger. If that doesn’t work, the blockage is somewhere in the main sewer line and will require professional attention.
3. GURGLING DRAINS & TOILETS
Another sign that a blockage is forming is a gurgling sound after a toilet is flushed or water goes down a sink or tub/shower drain. The gurgling may also be accompanied by bubbles in the bowl.
4. FOUL SMELL
Your nose can also tell you that something isn’t right with your home’s plumbing. When sewer gases leach into the home, they’ll manifest with the odor of sulfur (rotten eggs), skunk or raw sewage. Because a sanitary sewer should be completely airtight except for vent stacks, a foul smell in the home could signal a dried out/broken seal, damaged vent stack or, in the worst case, a crack in the main sewer line itself.
Notice mold growth on your walls and ceilings? It may be a sign of a break in the sewer lines behind your walls. A cracked pipe will cause the humidity level to increase, making the conditions suitable for mold growth. Mold in combination with a foul odor is a telltale sign that this particular problem has occurred. Mold is harmful to your health, so if you notice it, call a plumber immediately.
6. LUSH AREAS OF GRASS
Everyone wants a lush, green lawn. However, thick and extra-green patches of grass where your sewer line is located is a warning sign of an underground sewage leak. Sewage is a fertilizer for vegetation, so a leak of sewage into the soil will provide extra nutrients to the grass.
7. SOGGY/SINKING LAWN
A lawn that is soggy from septic waste is an obvious sign of a broken septic tank, clogged drain field or cracked main line — especially if there’s a pool or soggy area that won’t go away. The saturated ground could eventually cause a sinkhole as well. Take note if you notice a section of yard, driveway, or patio pavers that is beginning to sink.
8. WALL & FOUNDATION CRACKS
One of the biggest issues caused by sewer line problems is the development of cracks in your home’s foundation and walls. The cracks occur if the main line under the foundation leaks for an extended period and causes the home to settle.
9. PEST INFESTATION
Pests like mice, cockroaches and sewer flies that live in sewers can fit through small cracks and gaps in the sewer line and make their way into your plumbing. If you notice a sudden influx of rodents and insects in your home, the sewer system could be their access point.