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Common Signs of a Broken Sewer Line

broken sewer line is a plumbing emergency that needs immediate attention to avoid compromising the health of your family and safety of your home. Leaking contaminated water can result in sickness, water damage, mold growth, and ongoing plumbing issues. Licensed plumbing professionals are best qualified to clean up the unsanitary conditions that result from a cracked or broken sewer line. But how do you know if you have a broken sewer line? These common signs indicate that there’s a problem:


  1. Strong Smells

The clearest indication that something is wrong with your sewer lines is a strong foul odor. Waste smells should never emanate from your pipes inside or outside if everything is working correctly. Leaking sewer water or trapped gas is the cause of the bad smell and needs to be investigated by an emergency plumber right away. Ignoring strong smells puts your family at risk of contamination from dirty water.  


  1. Fluctuating Toilet Water Levels

While some toilets naturally have a lower water level, toilets that experience frequent fluctuations are indicative of a bigger problem. If the water level is high sometimes and low other times, a cracked sewer line can be to blame. Even if it’s not a sewer line problem, there’s something plumbing-related amiss that needs to be addressed. A local plumber can diagnose the issue and advise on the proper course of action.  


  1. Simultaneous Plumbing Issues

Seemingly unrelated plumbing issues happening at the same time can indicate a sewer line problem. Water backing up in a sink or toilet when the shower runs, or water turning off elsewhere in the house when a toilet flushes is a sign that the main water entry or exit from the house has been compromised.

Even something as simple as water draining slowly can be a symptom of a larger plumbing problem. If slow-draining water has been an issue for a long time, the use of liquid drain cleaners can further exacerbate the problem, weakening already cracked pipes and causing bigger leaks. Instead of attempting a DIY fix or ignoring the issue, call an experienced plumber right away to get to the bottom of the problem.


  1. Yard Changes

Spongy ground or puddled water in a lawn can be the result of a broken sewer pipe. The water that collects and creates a soggy lawn is often grey or black water, which can result in unsanitary conditions and community groundwater contamination.

Grass that is suddenly green or fast-growing can be the result of a damaged sewer pipe as well, especially if it’s concentrated in one area. Leaking wastewater can fertilize the grass, making it unexpectedly lusher than before. This change usually happens quickly and only in one small area, making it easy to identify where the sewer line break occurred.


  1. Shifting Foundation

Foundations cracks can happen anytime settling occurs. However, cracks that compromise the structural integrity of your home can easily result when broken sewer pipes cause soft ground underneath the foundation. Before completing any foundation repair or foundation reinforcing, have an experienced plumber take a look to see if there’s any reason to suspect sewer line damage. On older homes roots from mature landscaping can penetrate the sewer lines, resulting in ongoing leaking that causes serious problems over time.


  1. Unwanted Guests

Rats, cockroaches, and other pests can come out of broken sewer lines, entering your yard or home. If these unwanted guests keep coming back after an exterminator has been called, it can indicate that there is a serious plumbing problem occurring. These unwanted critters are disgusting and also unsanitary, so keeping them away form your family is of the utmost importance. Have an emergency plumber take care of your sewer line problems right away before these nasty pests pay your home a visit.

Additional resources:
Should I Call an Emergency Plumber?
Why is My Yard Wet?
Cost of a Sewer Line Repair
Why is the water bill high?