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AM Wall Anchor & Water Proofing Blog Article:

3 Signs You May Need Sewer Line Replacement

New sewer pipes placed in the yard of a residential home in preparation for sewer line replacement

If your drains are slowing or there’s a foul odor hanging around your home, you may need a sewer line replacement before the damage spreads. A broken sewer line can be one of the biggest–and easily one of the most unpleasant–challenges a homeowner can face. Your sewer system plays the vital role of removing wastewater and solids from your home to your septic tank or municipal sewer system. However, sewer issues don’t always come with such noticeable symptoms, so you must learn to spot the signs yourself to know when to call a sewer and foundation professional.

Not for the Inexperienced

Homeowner unclogging sewer lines at a home

Sewer line replacement is beyond most homeowners’ experience or skill level to manage as a DIY job, meaning you need to get a trusted professional involved as early as possible in the process. While we can help you recognize the signs of a broken sewer line, attempting to manage the problem yourself can lead to delays, more damage, and a hazardous situation as raw sewage permeates your property, potentially including your soil and foundation. 

The Major Signs You Need Sewer Line Replacement

As vital as your sewer line is to the hygienic functioning of your home, it will come as no surprise that signs your sewer line needs replacement can be pretty hard to miss–and gross.

A Lingering Sewer Smell In or Around the Home

If you’ve never smelled sewer gas, trust us when we say you’ll still know it when you smell it. It’s an unforgettable mix of odors from your bathroom, dirt and grime, and food particles washed down kitchen drains, and it lingers in the air. Even if a broken sewer line is underground, the smell can still be the first sign some people notice as the gas works its way up through voids in the soil to off-gas into the atmosphere. The smell can also come from inside your home if the broken sewer pipe is clogged or otherwise occluded. Unable to vent into the sewer, the gasses come back up the pipes, rising through drains in the basement, bath, or kitchen.

Wherever they come from, sewer gasses alone can cause big problems. The smell can attract pests like roaches, mice, and other vermin. These gasses can also be harmful to breathe, putting your family’s health at risk. Worse, they can seep into fibers and porous materials, depositing the odors and making them even harder to get rid of.

Slow or Gurgling Drains Throughout the Home

Hand pulling up hair from a shower drain in a white bathtub

It’s not uncommon for a drain to clog or run slow due to hair, food particulate, or an overabundance of flushed personal hygiene products. When every drain in the house is running slow or gurgling, however, it could point to the need for sewer line replacement. Broken sewer lines don’t drain as efficiently. They become blocked by roots, rocks, dirt debris, or broken pieces of pipe. The flow of water slows down and may make noise as it works its way around and through obstructions.

As water backs up, it can do more than become a nuisance. It could lead to raw sewage backing up through the drains at the lowest point of the house, usually a basement drain or a floor drain in your shower. If the line is broken under the or next to the foundation, it can introduce moisture that oversaturates the soil, leading to increased weight against your basement’s walls, potentially bowing them, sending moisture seeping through cracks, or otherwise damaging the property. 

Wet Spots in the Yard Accompanied by Suspicously Unwell or Overly Healthy Plants

Localized wet spots in your yard that never seem to dry out or that get increasingly muddy can also point to an issue with your sewer lines. The water and waste from a broken sewer line were not factored into your drainage plan, so they can quickly overcome your existing drainage structures. As the water and waste accumulate, you may notice a change in the plants surrounding the localized flooding. Some may thrive on the extra water and nutrients, while others may be killed due to the specific mix of minerals, chemicals, and compounds involved.

Far from being a gardener’s friend, broken sewer lines can contaminate your yard and any plants growing in it. Pets and humans who enter the area can become sick, and remediation costs to clean the waste out of your yard if you put off sewer line repair too long can soon skyrocket. 

Common Causes of Broken Sewer Lines

Sewer line replacement may be needed for a variety of reasons, some of which are beyond your control.

  • Crushing Damage – When the weight on top of a sewer pipe becomes heavier than the pipe can bear, it can crack or shatter, leaving you with a broken sewer line.
  • Root Systems – Tree roots can penetrate the walls and joints of a sewer line, forcing their way in and widening the gap to the point of breaking the pipe.
  • Deterioration – Over time, pipe walls can become brittle and more prone to breaking or damage, especially with clay sewer pipes, which are sometimes still found on older properties.
  • Corrosion – Metal pipes can corrode, weakening the metal until the pipe bursts.
  • Municipal Issues – If the municipal system begins backing up, it can place additional pressure on your sewer line, breaking it and leading to a need for sewer line replacement.
  • Shifting Ground – As ground settles and shifts, whether from compacting over time or swelling from a rainwater flood, the heavy soil moving against the pipe can break its walls or leave your sewer system disjointed.
  • Improper Flushing – Personal hygiene products, including “flushable wipes,” are often not meant to be flushed down the toilet. These begin to lodge in the sewer line, building up until they create an impenetrable barrier that backs up the whole sewer system.

Experience Sewer Line Replacement Pros

Timely sewer line replacement protects the integrity of your foundation. Since 2015, we’ve been Western Pennsylvania’s foundation specialists, and we’re ready to help you. When you schedule a free estimate, we’ll set an appointment to look at your property, noting any signs of a broken sewer line, foundation damage, or need for improved yard drainage. We will give you a detailed estimate based on our years of experience. Get the help you need to protect your home. Request your free inspection from A.M. Wall Anchor & Waterproofing today.

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