Most homeowners have a plunger near the toilet which represents the extent of their plumbing repair capabilities. Plumbing is a tricky issue that often requires specialized tools and equipment that most homeowners do not have the time or expertise to handle on their own.
While some plumbing issues are a simple fix, others are not and some may be pointing to a much bigger issue. A major sewer line repair spells dread for any homeowner. The sewer line is the biggest and most important piece of plumbing in your entire home. A problem with the sewer line means a problem for the entire household. This is why sewer line problems are expensive, inconvenient and stinky (literally).
Why Do I Need Sewer Repair?
Small infractions, little problems, and drainage or fixture issues can eventually build up and cause your main sewer line to crack, clog or even collapse. Knowing what causes sewer line issues is a good step in preventing a major sewer line repair or replacement.
Shifting Soil: This is one you don’t have any control over, it’s basic gravity. When soil shifts over time it can put undue pressure on pipes and cause them to break or crack.
Freezing Ground: This is similar to shifting soil because as the ground freezes, it can put pressure on pipes. Again, there’s not much you can do to prevent this, but it’s good to be aware of so you can watch for warning signs.
Buildup of waste or foreign objects: Waste or foreign objects can build up over time and cause pipes to crack, break, or burst. One big culprit of this is flushing debris or trash down the toilet.
Root infiltration: Tree roots and sewer pipes don’t get along very well. As tree roots grow, they can inject themselves into pipe joints and cause major problems for homeowners. Even trees that are next door or across the lawn can eventually reach your sewer line.
Time: Pipes break down over time, they simply become weaker and more susceptible to any of these known issues.
A Sagging Sewer Line: Over time, a sewer line can start to sag, and it creates a “belly” in the pipe where the water can’t move through effectively and causes a blockage.
Pouring Grease Down the Drain: Even if you throw it out with water, it will cool off and harden in your pipes on the way down. This leads to sewer line clogs.
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Signs of a Clogged or Broken Sewer Line
Because your sewer line is located underground, typically in your front lawn, it’s sometimes difficult to know whether there’s a problem or not. If you are concerned about a sewer line issue on your property, there are several signs to look for. Paying attention to small changes in and around your home may help catch a sewer line repair before it’s too late.
- Toilet bowl water level is inconsistent – One day it’s there, the next day it’s not. This might be a clear sign of a sewer line issue. If you flush the toilet and see back up water into your tub or shower, this is also a warning sign that it’s time to get a professional opinion.
- Animals are attracted to your yard – If all of the sudden you feel like an animal whisperer and you have rodents, insects and stray animals flocking to your property, it may be due to a sewage pipe break.
- Nasty smells – Anytime you smell sewage, it’s a clear sign it’s time to call a professional. Take note of the location, look for puddles or other changes to help them locate the source quickly.
- Water pooling in your yard – When you have a break in your sewer line, you’ll see an indentation in your lawn that often fills with water. If it hasn’t rained or snowed and you have a distinct soggy patch of grass, it’s time to call a plumber.
- Slow drains – This could be an indication of a simple clog, or a much bigger issue. It’s always a good idea to get help from a professional and steer clear from chemical drain-cleaning products.
- Gurgling noises from your pipes – Pay attention to what happens to the sink or bathtub when you flush the toilet. Sometimes a noise in one appliance after flushing the other can be a clear indicator of a draining issue.
- Multiple fixtures are clogged – If you notice a clog in your sink, and then another in the tub and then a toilet is clogged as well, it’s time to shut off the water and call a plumber before the problem gets worse.
- Plants growing near your sewer line – Sometimes the moisture from a broken water line can cause weeds or plants to grow excessively. If you notice odd growth patterns on your property, it might be time to have your pipes inspected.
- Increased water bill – If your water bill is increasing even after making concerted efforts to reduce your water usage, it might be time to have your pipes checked for leaks.
Sewer Cleaning and Repair
If you are noticing any of the previously mentioned signs, the best plan of action is to call a plumbing professional. Do not try cleaning or repairing the sewer line yourself. This is the biggest component of your home plumbing system and it should only be handled by a professional. Because of the nature of sewer lines, it could also be a hazardous situation and you could end up hurting yourself or causing further damage to the sewer line.
Plumbing professionals are equipped to clean, diagnose, repair, or replace sewer lines based on your needs. These are some of the common methods we use to clean and inspect sewer lines.
Water jetting uses an ultra-high pressure water stream to break up and clear away debris in your pipes. This is a very effective method, but must be used carefully so as not to puncture or crack weak pipes.
Plumbers use a long cord-like device to feed through the sewer line and clear blockages. A drain snake can be up to 50 feet long with several different attachments to locate and clear away blockages in your pipes.
Sewer Line Inspection
An inspection should be done both before and after any sewer line repair. A small sewer line camera is sent through the line to record what is going on inside the pipes and what is causing the blockage. A sewer line inspection can reveal cracks and breaks in the sewer pipe as well as problems in the line that may require your local sanitation department’s attention.
Trenchless Sewer Repair and Replacement
Just a few years ago, a sewer line repair also meant a backhoe in your front yard and a destroyed lawn. Today, we can repair or replace your sewer line without digging into your lawn at all. There are two main methods for this type of sewer line repair:
Using hydraulic power and advanced technology, a bursting head is sent through the old pipe that breaks it apart while at the exact same time replacing it with new high-density pipes.
In some situations, slip lining is preferred because it uses an epoxy liner to create a new pipe without destroying the old ones. Essentially, it is a “pipe within a pipe” technique. Over time, the original pipes may corrode, but the epoxy liner is already in place and ready for use. This is also known as Cured in Place Pipe (CIPP). The only difference between slip lining and CIPP is the material in the liner.
With today’s innovations in plumbing technology, we can now diagnose and replace pipe in one day with minimal excavation. With sewer cameras, trenchless repair methods, and expert training, we can easily replace and repair sewer and water lines without destroying your landscaping and in less time than traditional methods.
Sewer Line Replacement Costs
The cost to replace a sewer line ranges from $50 to $250 per foot with most homeowners spending between $1,300 and $2,700 for any sewer line repair. The price varies based on location and materials, but given the significance of the sewer line to the plumbing in your home, it’s well worth the investment to ensure it is working properly.
Working With a Sewer Line Expert
A sewer line is easy to keep out of sight and out of mind until it stops doing its job. If you are noticing some concerning warning signs, or would like to have your sewer line inspected, find a local, licensed plumbing contractor who can perform a sewer line repair or replacement to keep your home running fresh and clean.