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9 Symptoms That Can Indicate a Sewer Line Problem

If you think you may have a sewer line problem, call us immediately. Raw sewage that gets into the wrong place can cause structural damage to your home, it can ruin your landscaping, and can even make you and your family sick. It’s a problem you need to fix right away.

The only way to know for sure if you have a problem with the main sewer line or septic system in your home is to consult with a professional plumber. If you’re worried you might have a sewer line issue, call us right away at (253) 645-1209. There are a few signs and symptoms of sewer line trouble that can give you a clue as to whether you might have a sewer line problem. Some of the most common include:

  1. Backups and Blocked Drains: Sewer backups usually occur at the lowest drain in your house first, especially if it is the main sewer line causing the trouble. This usually means your bathtub, shower, or toilet, but it could also be a drain in your basement if your basement drains lead to the main sewer line or septic system. If your toilet or shower backs up every time you use it, a potential problem with the sewer line needs to be checked out, in addition to checking the individual drains. In cases of sewer line blockages by tree roots or cracked pipes, you might experience backups even after having your drains and pipes cleaned, so don’t wait – the problem only gets worse till it’s fixed.
  2. The Smell of Rotten Eggs: Sewer gas is mostly methane, which is odorless, but it’s almost always mixed with hydrogen sulfide, which is most assuredly NOT. Hydrogen sulfide is produced by decomposing organic matter and has a pronounced smell that most people associate with rotten eggs. If you smell a rotten egg, it could be sewer gas, and that could mean that your main sewer line has a leak. You might notice this smell either inside or outside your home. If you smell it, call us! We’ll set up a sewer line inspection to make sure we find and fix the problem.
  3. Mold on Your Walls, Ceilings, or Floors: Mold requires a constant humid state, but not as much as you might think. Some molds can start growing after the humidity gets just a little higher than 50%. A cracked and leaking sewer pipe inside or outside your home can create the conditions for mold growth, and you might not notice any smell if the sewage is contained behind your walls.
  4. Slow-Draining Pipes: As blockages for within sewer lines, the water and sewage can’t flow through as quickly. If there are enough tree roots or debris lodged in your sewer line, it can cause some or all of the drains in your home to drain slowly. There’s some good news here – if you’re only seeing one slow drain, it’s probably not your main sewer line unless you’ve already had the drain cleared and the problem persists. Also, NEVER use chemical drain cleaners for slow drains or blockages. They can cause much more expensive problems as the caustic chemicals sit in your pipes.
  5. My Yard Looks Amazing, but Only in This One Spot: Raw Sewage has a lot of the same chemical elements as fertilizer. (That doesn’t mean it’s good for your lawn without extensive treatment first, so don’t get any ideas). If you’re curious about how raw sewage can be treated and converted to healthy fertilizer, check out TAGRO. The city of Tacoma was one of the first cities in the country to recycle residential wastewater and biosolids into usable fertilizer. That means that if there’s a leak or broken pipe under your lawn or landscaping, the plants in that area might appear extra green and healthy. This can be caused by other things as well, even just a simple water leak, but it’s worth it to check it out, and if your lush greenery is accompanied by that rotten egg smell, call us right away.
  6. Low Spots in Your Lawn or Walkways: Slow leaks underground can gradually eat away the dirt and soil that supports your lawn or walkways. It’s the beginnings of a sewage sinkhole, and can be very bad news! If you’re noticing your yard or walkways between your house and the street caving in, or sinking even a few inches for no apparent reason, it’s a good idea to have a video inspection of your sewer lines. The earlier the problem is caught, the more (and cheaper) options there are to fix the problem.
  7. Structural or Foundation Cracks: After a leaking sewer line has been at it long enough in just the wrong spot, or in the event of a critical failure, it can eat away at the ground underneath the foundation of your home, causing settlement that can create cracks in the foundation or walls, or even cause sinkholes – a hole in the ground that happens as the supporting soil is washed away. This is a serious issue that must be repaired immediately, not only due to the health issues that can be caused by exposure to raw sewage, but also the serious damage it can cause to your home’s foundation and structure.
  8. I Have a New Water Feature, but It’s Disgusting: A broken or faulty sewer line or septic system can cause raw sewage to form a pond in a low spot. If this occurs, you’ll probably know. The smell of rotten eggs is likely to be overpowering near the standing water. The problem is often, but not always, located directly underneath the new “water feature”, and can be a broken sewer line, a faulty septic tank, a clogged or overwhelmed drain field, or a cracked main sewer line. It’s an indication of a serious problem, and you should call us right away.
  9. Rodent or Insect Problems: We know, this is gross. Rats and cockroaches can squeeze through incredibly small openings or cracks in broken sewer lines and get into your home. If you’ve had a pest problem that just seems to be unsolvable, even after calling out pest control professionals, it’s worth it to have a sewer line inspection to determine if the system is sealed properly or if there are cracks through which vermin can enter your home.

Don’t Wait – The Sooner You Call, the Easier the Fix

If you’ve observed any of these problems, it is important that you call us right away. Sewer problems are serious business; they can cause chronic health problems, damage to your yard or landscaping, and even very expensive damage to your home itself. If a sewer or septic system fails catastrophically, it can be an expensive and tedious disaster.