Modern homes have many “invisible” systems—such as buried cables and underground plumbing—that keep things running smoothly without drawing attention to themselves. The flip side of this convenience, however, is that when something breaks down, the problem can go on for a while before becoming obvious.
This is especially true when it comes to your home’s sewer line, the pipe system that discreetly moves all wastewater from your toilets and drains into the main city sewer (unless, of course, you have a septic system). It’s great that we don’t have to think about where all that waste goes—until something goes wrong.
Common sewer line problems
There are many things that can cause issues with your sewer line, including:
- Leaking caused by pipe corrosion over time
- Fractures due to a sudden shift in the ground
- Your pipes being hijacked by hungry plant roots
- A faulty valve that allows your neighborhood’s main sewer system to leak into yours
- People in your household disposing of fats, oils, and other drain-clogging items down your toilets or sink
Unfortunately, you can’t observe any of this damage happening until it starts to cause symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the warning signs, and to be proactive as soon as you notice them.
Sewer line warning signs to watch for
Mysterious gurgling sounds
Do you hear a faint gurgle or percolating sound when you flush your toilet? Maybe you hear a noise coming from your toilet when you run another appliance. Don’t just chalk it up to having an old or quirky home—it could be a sign of trouble down below!
A sudden change in your water bill
If you discover your monthly water charges are going up despite your water use habits staying the same, it may be a sign of a major leak going on somewhere in your home. If it’s not your sewer line, it could your main water line or something going on behind a wall, so you’ll want to get that checked out right away.
Drains moving slowly, even though you don’t have a clog
One morning your sink is draining slowly. No worries—you know how handle a small clog. However, once you get going, you find no evidence of any buildup of hair or anything. The drain may eventually clear, but then it will clog again—for seemingly no reason. Remember that it’s all drains in your home that are connected to the sewer system, not just your toilet. So frequent, inexplicable clogs could signal trouble.
Multiple clogs at once
If you have a regular clog in your bathtub drain, there’s no logical reason for your sink or toilet to be affected too. But if your bathtub isn’t draining at the same time that your toilet isn’t flushing correctly, it may be a sign that the water is being held back not by a clog, but by a system-wide issue.
Backups in toilets
This is never a pleasant surprise. If it happens with some regularity, this could be the sign of a faulty valve that’s not doing the job of keeping the city system water out of your home.
Patches of grass that are inexplicably greener than the rest of your yard
If you see a section of your lawn that is much greener than the rest, but there’s no difference in sunlight or watering patterns, this could be a sign it’s getting some extra fertilizer due to an underground sewer line leak.
Unpleasant smells in your yard or basement
This is probably the last and final warning signal, and one you hope you don’t have to reach! If you can smell sewage, you probably have a major rupture on your hand. You’ll want to keep kids and pets out of the area and call a plumber ASAP.
If you suspect you’ve got a sewer line issue—or you’re just noticing a few odd plumbing symptoms that aren’t adding up—you don’t want to wait for the problem to get worse before acting. If you’re in Greenville, Ken’s Plumbing is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We may be able to use a grease waste eliminator (ENDURE) to break up clogs, or we can locate and repair nasty leaks. Give us a call and get peace of mind!