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10 Ways to Tell You Have a Damaged Sewer Pipe

A leaking or corroded sewer pipe is a certain sign of a major problem with your sewer system. Your sewer lines may already be compromised by tree root intrusion, cracks, channeling, or misaligned connections, before you experience complete sewer line failure. Don't let your plumbing get to the point of failure! A failed or collapsed sewer line will cost you tremendously more to repair than proactively getting your pipe maintenance and repaired will. Here is a list of 10 tell-tale signs that your sewer line is deteriorating and possibly broken.

1. Sewage Backups and Blockages :

Sewer backups usually occur in the lowest open drain. It is typically caused by a blockage somewhere in the line. If you experience a backup every time you flush or run water down your sink, then the problem is likely in you main sewer line since all the drains rely on the main sewer line to drain properly. However, if the backups are limited to only one drain then the problem is likely isolated to that drain.

If you experience regular backups and blockages even after having the pipes cleaned, then you may have an underlying issue such as tree root intrusion, channeling, cracks, letting surrounding soil in, or a misaligned pipe connection. These issues can be detected by getting a video pipe inspection.

2. Sewer Gas Odor :

If you can smell sewer gas in or around your property building, this is a tell-tale sign that there is a crack somewhere in your sewer system. A sanitary sewer should be air tight everywhere, with the exception of vent stacks on your roof which allow for the sewage to move downhill. You should never smell sewer odor and if you do, it means there is a crack or opening in your sanitary sewer lines.

3. Mold Problem :

In addition to sewer odor, mold growth may also be a sign of a break in your sewer lines behind your walls. There are molds that only need the humidity level to be higher than 55% to start growing. Considering that, a cracked sewer pipe behind a wall can cause the humidity levels to rise to a point suitable for a mold problem to begin. If you notice mold growth in your business accompanied by sewer odor, then you likely have a break in your sewage drain pipes.

4. Slow Drain :

A slow drain may also be a symptom that a blockage is forming which will eventually lead to a sewage backup. If your toilet or sink is draining slowly even after attempts to clear the line, you may have issues such as tree root intrusion, channeling, or cracks, mentioned above in the beginning stages.

*beware if using chemical drain cleaners to solve a slow drain or blockage, as the chemicals will sit in the pipe and eat away at the cast iron and/or PVC. A more natural method would be to use a combination of baking soda, distilled vinegar, and hot water.

5. Extra green and lush patches in grass :

Spotting an extra green and lush patch of grass on your property lawn may be due to a sewage leak underground. Since sewage acts as fertilizer for vegetation, leakage from your main line into the surrounding soil will give the surrounding grass extra nutrients that will result in a lush and extra green appearance.

6. Indentation in lawn or under pavers :

Another symptom of a broken sewer line is an indentation in your lawn or under your pavers. A cracked sewer main line that is consistently saturating the ground may cause the soil to dissipate. This may cause your lawn to develop an indentation or dip above where your main sewage line runs.

7. Foundation cracks, settlement, and sinkholes :

More extreme symptoms of sewer pipe deterioration include foundation issues such as cracks in your foundation slab, foundation settlement, and in some cases sinkholes.

If the main line running under your slab develops a leak that goes untreated for a prolonged period of time, a void may develop under the foundation or in the yard. This may lead to foundation problems such as cracks in your foundation, settlement of your building, and potentially even a sinkhole.

If your building is not on pilings and you notice any of the aforementioned foundation related problems, a broken and leaking main sewer line may be a contributing factor and you should call a foundation repair specialist immediately.

8. Septic Waste Pooling in Yard :

An obvious sign that you may have a broken sewer pipe would be septic wastewater pooling in your property lawn. The issue may be a broken septic tank, clogged drain fields, or a cracked main line. Often times the problem area is located directly under the pool of sewer water.

9. Rodent Problem :

Believe it or not but a rodent problem may be a sign of a break in your sewer lines. Rats live in the sewers and can make their way from the city/main line tie-in to the pipes running behind your walls. An average rat can squeeze through a crack or opening in your sanitary sewer the size of a quarter (about 3/4 inch) and invite themselves into your business to disrupt activities.

Rodents are responsible for the spread of many dangerous diseases and some can be spread just by breathing in dust that has been contaminated with rat urine or droppings or even being bitten by an infected rodent.

If you have a persistent rodent problem that pest control tactics can't seem to solve, try getting a video inspection of your sewer system done to see if you have any possible entry points for rodents.

10. Insect Infestation :

An insect infestation may also be a symptom of a broken sewer line as well. Insects such as cockroaches, palmetto bugs, and sewer flies have a much easier time getting through sanitary sewer cracks and into your business than rats do. According to one reference work, the small German cockroach can fit into a crack in your pipes as thin as a dime, while the larger American cockroach will squeeze into a space no thicker than a quarter.

Cockroaches have many negative consequences for human health as well because certain proteins (called allergens) found in their feces, saliva, and body parts can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma symptoms, especially in children.

Calling a pest control company on a regular basis to get rid of unwanted insects will treat the problem temporarily, however, if the problem is being caused by a compromised sewer line, the bugs will never stop coming into your business. You will need to address their entry point which may be through your sewer lines.

How to avoid further sewer pipe damage :

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of a damaged sewer line, you should have a sewer inspection done by a qualified professional such as Cloud 9 Services, Inc. plumbing systems can fail unexpectedly and cause substantial damage to your commercial and industrial property.

If you are in need of help, contact us today at 407-481-2750 to get a free estimate!

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