Damaged sewer lines can bring a lot of misery to homeowners, but sewer breaks are often difficult to detect until the problem becomes severe or property is damaged. In addition, the health hazards of exposure to raw sewage are significant, and several serious illnesses can be transmitted through direct contact with wastewater.
These reasons are why it is important to know the warning signs of a sewer line problem. Below are four indicators that your home's sewer pipes may be broken or leaking.
One of the first signs that your home's sewer lines may be broken or leaking is the presence of sluggish drains or toilets that don't flush well. Poor draining sinks and tubs are often due to ordinary clogs, but repeated drain problems or slow draining in multiple plumbing fixtures indicate your sewer line may be compromised.
Likewise, if your toilets don't flush, or if they gurgle or bubble when flushed, then a possible cause is a broken sewer line. As with sinks and tubs, a toilet that flushes with hesitation may be simply clogged. However, if the problem can't be resolved with a plunger or closet auger, then you should consult with a plumber to have an in-depth evaluation performed.
Backed Up Toilets and Drains
Another possible indicator that your sewer lines are damaged is when toilets or drains back up into the home. This problem can occur whenever outside water penetrates the broken line and forces its way up into your toilet or drains.
Heavy rain or other water accumulation makes the problem worse, and if you notice a correlation between lots of rain and sewer backups, a broken line is likely the cause. In addition, keep in mind that widespread backups across your home are indicative of sewer line damage, while isolated backups are often simply due to clogs.
Wet Spots in the Yard
Every homeowner loves a lush, green lawn but not at the expense of a broken sewer line. If your grass is unexpectedly thriving, particularly in patches or only certain areas, then suspect a broken sewer line is "feeding" the growth with moisture and nutrients.
Of course, if you discover unexplained wet spots in your lawn, green growth or not, then it's also worth investigating whether a broken sewer line is a culprit. Fresh water lines can cause wet spots, but you can usually tell if the mushy ground is a result of wastewater exposure because it will smell.
The smell of rotten eggs or a "fishy" odor are common sewage odors. If the line is broken between your home and the sewer main, these smells can occur both inside and outside your home. However, sewer gas also causes offensive odors so a licensed plumber will need to diagnose whether or not the smell is caused by a broken line.
In addition, the presence of raw sewage on your property is also a threat to health, so don't delay in getting professional help.
Cracked or Broken Foundations
Foundation damage can also be caused by a broken sewer line. Uneven moisture exposure affects the ground surrounding foundations and causes it to heave and swell. These movements are destructive and can break the concrete.
A sewer line leak directly under your foundation can be harder to detect, since no signs of moisture may be present. However, always be on the watch for cracking in walls or doors that won't shut, as these are often indicators of a slab that is shifting.
If you suspect you have a sewage leak, or if you just aren't sure what is causing your plumbing woes, be sure to contact South East Total Service for help. Their professionals can diagnose your problems and correct them quickly.