3 Signs Your Sewer Line Needs Repair

It is normal to have the occasional clogged pipe or slow draining water line. Many homeowners have difficulty identifying when a small problem can easily be resolved without professional help and when there is clear evidence that a major problem is occurring.

While no article can ever provide the definitive answer to all plumbing problems, the following guide provides 3 signs that your sewer line needs repair.

If you need immediate repairs for your garbage disposal – call Cardinal Plumbing, Heating & Air Inc. for a free estimate!

1. Cascading Backups and Blockages

In the course of events for any Sterling home, it is natural to occasionally experience a backed up toilet or blocked drain. But when backups and blockages become a regular event, it may be a clear sign that your main sewer line is in urgent need of replacement or repair.

The plumbing lines that connect your toilets, sinks, washing machines and other water lines all use gravity to run downhill to a particular low spot before joining your main municipal sewage line. If you begin to notice that backups and flooding are occurring in the lowest spot in your home, this may be a clear sign that the main sewer line is the issue.

Other clear signs of a systemic failure of your sewer line are when a backup or flooding event occurs every single time you flush the toilet, run water down a sink, or use your bathtub/shower. If only one water line was the issue, then the flooding events would not become a house-wide systemic failure. It causing consistent flooding and back-ups, which is a pretty clear indicator that there is a problem with your sewer line.

Homeowners are recommended to try their best to clear any blockages or clogs from their end in an effort to rule out the need for a full repair or replacement of the main sewer line. However, once the interior pipes have all been cleaned and the problem of flooding and water backing up continues, this could indicate a serious issue to your sewer line.

Over time, a number of adverse conditions can affect the integrity of your sewer line:

  • Tree roots expanding and then breaking through the lining of your sewer pipes
  • Rusting of iron pipes
  • Displaced ground from construction events
  • Soil shifting
  • Misaligned pipe connections
  • Degradation of pipes can lead to a major sewage malfunction

Once this occurs, only a professional can accurately perform a diagnosis and handle repairs to restore your home’s plumbing system to full working order.

2. The Nose Knows

Homeowners do not need to be licensed plumbers to realize that something may be seriously wrong with their main sewer line. If you detect the odor of sewer gas anywhere in your home or in the vicinity, this could be an indication that there is a major problem with your sewer line.

Healthy sewer lines ventilate sewer gas through special outlets on the roof while liquid sewage follows gravity’s iron mandate to move downhill so the only way sewer gas could be present inside your home is if there is a crack, leak, or hole somewhere.

What is sewer gas made up of & why is it dangerous?

While sewer gas has no legal definition, it is commonly understood to be a complex blend of both toxic and non-toxic airborne molecules that are formed from decaying household waste and bodily byproducts. The principle odor of most sewage gas comes from a mixture of sulfur dioxide and methane.

Partially due to the potentially toxic gases present and partially due to the generally unpleasant odor, anyone who detects the odor of sewer gas in their home should seek professional plumbing assistance right away. Should sewer gas be allowed to build up to substantial quantities inside the house, there is a risk of fire or explosion as decaying organic material produces several different types of highly flammable gas.

If you detect or think you have detected the odor of sewer gas anywhere inside your home, seek professional plumbing assistance with Cardinal Plumbing, Heating & Air Inc. right away.

3. Cracking, Settling, and Sinking

While only a professional team equipped with advanced video equipment can accurately diagnose problems within a sewer line, the average homeowner can infer problems with their sewer line by observing issues like cracks in the foundation of their house, soil settling or shifting, and the spontaneous appearance of sinkholes.

If sewer pipes are left untreated, they can then begin to leak fluids into the soil around the house, affecting the foundation and structural integrity of the building. When cracks begin to appear in the foundation slab or as the result of the home settling, shifting, or moving, the underlying cause may be a leaking and broken main sewer line.

What kind of damage can this cause?

Water always seeks the lowest point so fluids escaping from a broken sewer line will begin to pool up underneath and around the lowest part of the house. If the leak is further away from the main structure, a build-up of water can cause a surface inversion in which soil becomes emulsified and drops a few inches to several feet, commonly known as a sinkhole.

Water pooling underneath or around foundation slabs or pilings can freeze and expand during the winter, causing severe structural damage visible in the form of cracks in the walls and ceilings, as well as doors and windows becoming misaligned.

Even under certain environmental conditions that cause foundation cracks, sinkholes, and soil shifting unrelated to a sewer line malfunction, it is important to understand that a damaged sewer line can also be a contributing factor.

Anyone who observes new cracks in the walls or ceilings of their home, cracks in the foundation slab or pilings, doors and windows becoming misaligned or the spontaneous appearance of sinkholes in their yard should seek expert counsel immediately to prevent further damage from occurring to their home.

Get Professional Plumbing Help

Accessing and entering sewer lines can be extremely dangerous for untrained personnel. Never ever attempt to enter or repair a sewer line yourself. Always call a professional plumbing or sewer line repair company if you suspect that your sewer line needs repairing. If you noticed any water leaks or have a burst pipe, we will help you as soon as possible.

For quality services in your Sterling, VA home, call Cardinal Plumbing, Heating & Air Inc. at 703-721-8888.