Plumbing systems can fail at any time causing substantial damage that could be very costly to repair. There are several signs of a damaged sewer line, any of which should be inspected as soon as possible by a qualified professional plumber. If sewer deterioration is overlooked it can cause a myriad of problems, some of which can become a health hazard such as mold and sewage backups. The normal lifespan of cast iron sewer pipes is estimated to be between 25 to 35 years. If your home is more than 25 years old, you may already be experiencing signs that the sewer line has deteriorated or is possibly broken. If a sewer can get to the point where it fails, it could cost significantly more to have it repaired than proactive maintenance and inspection plans that could identify and repair a collapsed sanitary line before it becomes a major expense.
Some of the tell-tale signs of sewer line failure include backups and blockages. If backups occur every time the toilet is flushed or water is run down the sink or bathtub, it is more than likely due to a blockage in the main sewer line. Blockages can be caused by underlying issues such as cracks in the surrounding soil, tree root intrusion, or leaks in the pipe connections.
Slow drainage is another indication that a blockage may be forming that could eventually lead to a backup. The use of chemicals to clear a blocked drain may cause further problems as the chemicals will get trapped at the site of the blockage and eat away at the pipes. These problems can be detected with the help of a video inspection to determine the exact location and the extent of the damage. When the exact area of the problem can be identified it will prevent extensive disruptions to get to the problem which would save a lot of time and money.
An obvious smell of sewer gas in and around a building is another sign that there may be a crack in the sewer system. Sewer systems should be airtight except for a vent stack on the roof. A smell or odor could mean that there is an opening somewhere in the sewer line. In addition to the smell of gas, mold growth is another obvious sign of leakage that could be due to a crack sewer pipe behind a wall. Mold growth on the walls or ceiling accompanied by a strong smell may be due to a break in the sewage drainpipes.
Some of the more extreme signs of problems with the sewer line include foundation issues due to settlement, cracks in the foundation slab, and even sinkholes. If the main line that runs under the foundation slab of a building develops a leak that is left untreated for a prolonged period, it may develop a void leading to settlement of the building and associated problems such as cracks in the walls and floors. At the first signs of these problems a foundation repair specialist should be consulted to determine the extent of the damage. Foundation repairs in addition to pipe repairs can be very costly.
A persistent rodent problem or an insect infestation may be another indication of a breach in the sewer line. Household pests like rodents and cockroaches live in sewer pipes and when there is a break in the line, they have an easy entry into the home. Pests can have many negative consequences for the health of humans including allergic reactions that can be triggered especially in children and the elderly. Getting rid of pests regularly and addressing any potential entry points may treat the problem temporarily, but if there is a break in the sewer line these pests will keep coming back if there is a crack in the sewer line.
External signs that are a clear indication of sewer line problems are lush green patches of grass in the yard or indentation in the lawn or under the pavers of the driveway. Another obvious sign of a broken sewer pipe is a pool of septic waste accumulating in the yard. The problem can often be located directly below the pool of wastewater. Sewage can leak under the foundation of a building which could causing the soil to subside. This may cause the foundation slab to settle in certain areas and crack.
In order to avoid further damage to a compromised sewer line, you should have a sewer inspection carried out by a qualified plumbing professional. There are many methods available for sewer pipe repair including the option of pipe lining instead of conventional repair or replacement. A professional 24 Hour Emergency Plumber company will be able to assist you in deciding the best option for your requirements.