10 Symptoms of a Damaged Sewer Pipe

South Florida homes are experiencing a large wave of cast iron sewer pipe problems due to the 25-35 year life span of cast-iron pipes. If your cast iron sewer pipes are 25 Years old or older, they could fail at any time. Your drainage lines may already be damaged by tree root intrusion, cracks, channeling, or misaligned connections before you experience complete sewer line failure. Do not let your plumbing get to the point where it fails! A failed or collapsed sanitary sewer line will cost you tremendously more to repair than proactive maintenance and repair will. This article highlights 10 tell-tale symptoms that your sewer line is deteriorating and possibly broken.

1) Sewage Backups and BlockagesSewer Stoppages and Backups

Sanitary sewer backups usually occur in the lowest open drain. A sewage backup 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 or bathtub drain, then the problem is likely in your main sewer line since all drains rely on the main sewer line to drain properly. However, if backups are limited to only one drain then your problem is likely isolated to that drain.

Regular backups may be a symptom of broken or deteriorating sewer lines

If you experience backups or blockages regularly 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 sewer video inspection.

2) Sewer Gas Odorsewer-odor

If you can smell sewer gas in or around your home or building, this is a tell-tale symptom that there is a crack somewhere in your sewer system. A sanitary sewer should be airtight everywhere with the exception of vent stacks on your roof which allows for the sewage to move downhill. This means that you should never smell sewer odor unless there was a crack or opening in your sanitary sewer lines.

3) Mold Problemsewer leak causing mold

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 home accompanied by sewer odor then you likely have a break in your sewage drain pipes.

4) Slow Drain

A slow drain may be a symptom that a blockage is forming which will eventually lead to a sewage backup. If your toilet, bathtub, 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.

Note: Beware of using chemical drain cleaners to solve a slow drain or blockage. As the chemicals sit in the pipe they will eat away at the cast iron and/or PVC.

5) Extra Green and Lush Patches in Grass

Spotting an extra green and lush patch of grass in your yard may be due to a sewage leak underground. Since sewage acts as a 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 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 sewage main line runs.

7) Foundation Cracks, Settlement, and Sinkholes

Sewer leak causes foundation problems

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 home or building, and potentially even a sinkhole.

If your home or 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.

Here is an example of a cracked sewer line causing a sinkhole: Broken sewer line cause of sinkhole in Winston-Salem

8) Septic Waste Pooling in Yard

An obvious sign that you may have a broken sewer pipe would be septic wastewater pooling in your yard. 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, a rodent problem may be a sign of a break in your sewer lines. Rats live in sewers and can make their way from your 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 to dinner.

Rodent In Residential Sewer Lines

Rodents are responsible for the spread of many life-threatening diseases including Plague and Hemorrhagic Fever. Certain diseases can be transmitted simply by breathing in dust that has been contaminated with rat urine or droppings as well as being directly 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 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. Insects such as cockroaches, palmetto bugs, and sewer flies have a much easier time getting through sanitary sewer cracks into your home than rats. 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 because certain proteins (called allergens) found in cockroach 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 insects will treat the problem temporarily, however, if you have a compromised sewer line, the bugs will never stop coming into your home. You will need to address their entry point which may indeed be through a crack in 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 Pipelining Technologies, Inc. Plumbing systems can fail unexpectedly and cause substantial damage to your home. There are many methods of sewer pipe repair out there so we wrote this article on choosing between pipe lining and conventional repair, so give it a read before making any decisions!

If you need pipe repair help in South-East Florida please feel free to contact us at (561) 853-5463 or fill out our online form here.

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127 thoughts on “10 Symptoms of a Damaged Sewer Pipe”

  1. I noticed a green patch of grass at our family’s cabin last weekend. It seemed really out of place, so I’m glad I found this article. I imagine that I’ll need a professional to do an inspection for a broken pipe. I just hope it won’t be too much of a problem. We have another get together planned at our cabin. Thanks for the information.

    1. We are glad you found this information helpful! An out of place green patch of grass will always have a cause (likely that it is receiving extra fertilizer in one form or another). Hopefully you were able to sort everything out at your family cabin. Thanks for reading our blog!

  2. I knew that rats lived in sewers. I mean, anyone who has ever watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles knows that. However, I had no idea that they could squeeze through the cracks in the sewer and get into the house from there. Just knowing that makes me want to have my pipes checked for cracks!

    1. It is definitely a good idea to have your pipes checked every few years for possible rodent entry points. Nobody wants rats in their home! Thanks for reading our blog!

      1. The backyard of where i live is wet before dark and dosnt dry thru the night or thru thw day most timea . there is a apartment complex behind where i live . Could they have a sawage leak. Or busted pipes the drain underground thru. The backyard ?

  3. Wow, I had no idea that there were so many issues with sewer deterioration. I was also unaware that sewer pipe damage had so many symptoms, but I guess it makes it slightly easier to diagnose the issue. It’s terrible that it can even cause mold to develop, because those repairs are a hassle, and can be expensive. Thanks so much for writing, I’ll have to keep an eye out for these issues!

    1. Sewer deterioration is often overlooked by many. Everyone plans to have to replace their roof eventually, but the sewer pipes often take the backseat, when in reality they should be at least as much of a priority as roofing. After all, no one will live in a house or condo without a functioning plumbing system.

      Thanks for reading, Paul!

  4. Thank you for all of the tips about sewer and water damages in the home. I have been suspecting there is some damage in my own home, but I’m not sure. Whenever I turn on my shower there is a very distinct smell coming up from the drain. Sometimes it seems to come from the water itself. Could that be water damage in the wall? Thank you!

    1. Jac,

      Thank you for reading!

      The best thing to do is have a plumber test the shower for leaks. Could be moisture getting behind a failing shower pan liner or a crack in the drain line. The P-trap should be full of water at all times, maybe check to see if leaking out (indicates a crack in p-trap).

  5. Lillian Schaeffer

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that slow drains even after trying to clear it can be a sign of root intrusion in your sewer. The drain in my laundry room has been having some problems with backing up, and using a cleaner hasn’t really helped any. I think it’s the maple tree in our front yard again, so I’ll definitely look into having a plumber come and take a look. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Lillian,

      You are very welcome. When drainage problems keep resurfacing there is always a cause. Common causes are deterioration due to age, cracks, channeling, misaligned connections, and tree roots. And if you have tree roots, that means there are cracks or some type of opening in your pipes (a drainage system should be air-tight, no openings for roots to get in).

      1. I just rented an apartment and the water smells like sewage and noticed drain flies. I saw an area that looked like old water logged wall to the side of the shower. Any suggestions as I was scared to even brush my teeth or open my mouth while showering? The smell of the water is that bad that I smelled it on my hands after showering. My roomate just wants to run bleach down the drains but idk that would solve this problem. Do leasing communities have to test the water and drains and fix for free? Any help is really appreciated thanks

        1. It sounds like your apartment is a health hazard. Yes your landlord is responsible. That should be sufficient for the lease to be null and void. If you don’t move immediately, I suggest that you use nothing but bottled water and take showers elsewhere until it is fixed. If the Landlord/Realtor does not respond., call the Health Department.

  6. Some of these problems are just nasty. Someone has to do it. The life of a plumber is not so fun after all.

  7. My landlord knows there’s a problem by the just put in another sump pump to pump the water out of the basement onto the sidewalk which runs into the street to a storm drain. It clearly smells like sewage and there are sewer flies everywhere inside my house. Larva is pumping out with the water from the basement. How do I get someone to listen? So far no one has!!

  8. Is it true that if you have some cracks in the walls of your house that a investor can tell that you have sewer leaks om the slab as opposed to needing the foundation lifted? He actually said that from the location of the cracks and the direction in which they are appearing indicate a sewer leak and that I should have it inspected with a camera to determine where it is leaking and to have it fixed. Any idea the approximate cost of having a camera run through the sewer line under the house from the access point in front of the house? Texas clay soil is notorious for house movement going from dry to wet and the 3 months we have very little if any rain during the 100 degree heat in the summer.

    1. It is true that leaking sewer pipes under the slab can contribute to foundation problems by washing out soil and causing voids. A video inspection would be a first step in finding out. We are unfamiliar with the average pricing in Texas as we are based out of South Florida. Your best bet would be to call some local plumbers and get a few quotes. Just make sure that if you are paying for the inspection that they give you copies of the videos. Thanks for reading, Jim!

      1. Hello Parker, I was reading this comment and wanted to say that getting a copy of the video is most definitely important. most people are not even thinking about the possibility they might not use the company that did the video, I am a plumbing contractor and have had this a few times before I came to see the problem and the video is in their mind leverage to get the job so unless it is completely free then get the video. If I have the video when I get there I can access much easier to give the quote. I do not have the camera my self because cost doesn’t weigh out for me as I wouldn’t use it enough. so I just wanted to point out that you made a excellent suggestion with that and would be a good idea to drive that one in to every one because it will save a lot of them money

    1. Nancy,

      A plumbing system should be air tight with the exception of vent openings and drains. If there are no vent openings or drains near the sewer water then there is a good chance that there is a ruptured pipe. We recommend getting a sewer video inspection done by a local licensed plumber.

  9. I have had a sewer gas smell in house making me and babies ill.I keep windows open but still smell bad.and horrible cough and mucus. Our batroom is on same wall as closet were the smell I strongest.my husband had went under hose and a y pipe hade broke he repaired but ground still wet could this be our issue and if so once ground dries will smell be better?

    1. Kayla,

      If you found a broken pipe under the house that is a good start. We recommend that you get a sewer video inspection and/or a smoke test to determine if there are any other leaks. A smoke test is where a non-toxic vapor will be pumped through your pipes from either a vent stack on your roof or a clean out. If there are any cracks in your system, the vapor/smoke will manifest itself in your home. Your drainage system is supposed to be air-tight, so detecting any smoke inside will be an indicator of some type of opening/crack. Read more about smoke testing here.

      Also, if sewer water has been leaking behind your walls, you may want to have a mold inspection as well, as that residue from the sewer water will not go away on its own.

  10. Thanks for all the helpful information; i do have a tree in the front of my house; i had a stoppage yesterday where my first floor bathroom started flooding and water seeping from under the toilet. so couldn’t flush or wash or do anything. a plumber came in and checked and told me i might have a cracked sewer line. so who do i need to come and check and make sure its a cracked sewer line? i’m in Alpharetta, GA

    1. Hi there, thanks for reading our blog! To determine if there is a crack in your pipes you will want to have a licensed plumbing contractor perform a sewer video inspection. A high quality video inspection should show whether there is any root intrusion/cracks.

  11. My tenants neighbor is seeing water on their side in the basement I have a bathroom on the other side of their wall in my house in the basement I am not smelling anything or seeing water on my side I am getting a license plumber to buy the camera in my sewer line for cracks I just hope their problem is not my problem

  12. I had a pipe in my basement burst a couple days ago. I was also painting my bathroom on my first floor, so the smell masked it for a little while. I went to work and came home to such an overwhelming odor. Instant headache and dizzy! Now a few days later on the second floor of my home on the ceiling where the chimney is going up it is all mold and looks like water damage. It didn’t rain at all. Could this be from the sewer gas? The smell of the gas was the worst upstairs, so I opened all the windows. Smell is gone, but the patches on ceiling are still there. Help!

    1. Jake,

      A plumbing system by design is air-tight, so if you are smelling a true “sewer” odor then that means there is an opening/crack where there should not be. A sewer smoke test will help you locate the location of any leaks so that you can make the necessary repairs. Making a small opening in the ceiling where the mold is may also reveal your problem pipe.

      Thanks for reading!

  13. I have a problem with carpet being wet where anything heavy was sitting. I removed carpet from 2 rooms and I have huge cracks in my slab. I have never seen water, but if I lay something on the crack thats heavy the bottom of whatever is there will be wet. If I lay a piece of paper on the crack it will never get wet. Is it possible I have a sewer or drainage leak?? Would I have a foul smell?
    I had a plumber out, he said he does not believe I have a pipe leak. I had a roofer out and he found nothing. I checked my meter and it does not move when no water is being used in house. What is my next step?

    1. Charlene,

      Thanks for reading! This sounds like moisture weeping up through cracks in the concrete slab foundation. This is often the case in older homes that have a missing or compromised vapor barrier. It is most likely ground water moisture coming up and doesn’t sound plumbing related. There are products on the market that can seal and waterproof cracked slabs and this may be something to research.

  14. I like how you mentioned that extra green patches of grass can indicate a sewage leak. My lawn has been fairly uniform, but there’s a patch near the street that’s much more green than the rest of my yard. I think that’s where my sewer line runs, so maybe it would be a good idea to have a professional plumber come and check it out to see if there’s a leak or another problem.

    1. Hi Caden,

      It is certainly possible. Depending on the age of the home any number of improper connections could have been made to the city sewer and they will start to allow infiltration and exfiltration to occur in the system. A through video inspection of the entire sanitary system is a good proactive measure especially if the system is over 30 years old.

      Thanks for reading!

  15. I am in the process of buying a foreclosed twin home that has a water issue in the basement. There is also mold in the basement that starts from the base of the floor and works up about two feet up the wall. Water enters the basement when it rains from the back of the house. The backyard does have a slope that goes towards the house instead of away from it. There also a huge tree on the side of the house where the gutter goes from the roof to the ground. The pipe in the ground is cast iron and it has the gutter going directly into it instead of being directed away from the house. There is a sump pump system but the water does not seem to be flowing into the sump pump tank which leads me to wonder if the irrigation to the pump needs to be rerouted. I am also seeing drain flies which leads me to wonder if a sewer pipe has cracked or if this is an issue from the gutters being clogged. The water at the property had been turned off for about 6 months now so I do not think this is a leak in a pipe anywhere. The previous owner did disclose that the gutters need to be cleaned and that the sump pump was not working properly (however, I poured water into the tank and it did clear it, the water that is entering the basement just does not seem to have a connection to the sump pump). We plan to open the walls after closing but really want to get someone to look at the basement to give us an estimate of how much the work might cost. Do you have any idea what the issue might be?

    1. Hi Nicole,

      I would contact a local home inspector and have a through home inspection done to include the plumbing system. This is always advised when buying a home as there could be any number of undisclosed issues going on.

      Thanks for reading!

  16. Out of the blue I will smell the sewage smell it appears to come out of the vents it also appears that my house is tilting or shifting what should I do

    1. Hi Mrs. Jones,

      A vapor test will tell you if there is any sewer gas escaping from the pipe. As for the house shifting I would suggest reaching out to a foundation expert in your area.

      Thanks for visiting our blog!

  17. My boyfriend is redoing his basement. He dug up the slab to get to the main sewage line for the bathroom piping that is soon to be added. However, we started to notice the smell of sewage, and there is not small puddles forming under the main sewage line. At first we thought is was ground water surfacing, but the puddle got larger after running water/flushing the toilet. Not sure how we can fix ourselves, or how much this will cost. I assume that the smell of sewage is an indicator that this pipe is no longer air tight.

    1. Amber,

      Thank you for reading our blog! Without being able to personally inspect the issue in the basement, we can only recommend hiring a professional to come out and diagnose the issue and make the needed repairs.

  18. I would like to have my sewer checked out. It is smart to get my sewer checked out. I would want to know everything is taken care of professionally. I would not want my sewer to damage my roof like shown here in this picture.

  19. We are moving to northeast Florida in a month. We are going to rent. How often was Orangeburg pipe used in Florida?

  20. I never thought about how a slow drain could indicate that there could be a major problem with the sewage and that things could be seriously blocked. I’ve heard, too, that you need to pay attention to the level of water in your toilet because if it’s lowering constantly you could have drainage issues, too. I’ll be sure to remember all of these great tips and warning signs as I check my house to make sure that I’m not needing sewage repair.

  21. Been having backup in my downstairs toilet about every other month after using shower upstairs. Company discovered roots in my line. They snaked it, and next day came out with a camera for line. I looked at video with them and saw a small root and crack in pipe. However, he said it appeared I had a bend or collapse further in line as water was collecting (backing) in an area. He suggested repairing only the cracked portion where roots entered. Gave me a quote. Called out another company for 2nd opinion and paid same fee. This company wants to repair pipe 30-40 feet in up to directly under my downstairs toilet costing nearly $15,000. Is that necessary?

    1. Not sure how old the home is but all pipe fails over time. Yours is starting to go and already cracked in at least one place. Lining or replacing the entire line is always the best solution but you have to do what your finances allow. Perhaps a “band-aid” repair will get you by for a few years and perhaps not. Unfortunately it is a decision that only you can make.

    2. Omg help me. When it rains, I seem to have a leak in my boiler room in the basement, which is off a small 1.5 bath down there. Water is turned off since I bought the house 2 years ago. It also seems, when it rains, the shower is backing up with sewerage. My house STINKS! I am also unemployed. What do I do!?! Is this something insurance will cover? I am so screwed…

  22. Jeannette vargas

    I like all the comments ,about the problems with pipes,and the advices ,I had a closing 2 weeks ago ,then we were painting and repairing somethings in the house when we flushed the toilet seemed to be clogged,we decided to put a new toilet in and discovered this root coming out of the pipe, I had a 4points inspection done and the only thing they need it was to flush the toilet to see the pre-existing problem,and I don’t how damage it’s the pipe ,we getting another plumber to check the problem,who’s going to pay for this? and what am I going to do? Any advices? I will appreciate it ,

    1. Jeannette, unfortunately these stories are all too common. The home sewer system is not part of a typical home inspection nor do many realtors truly understand the underlying risks of cast iron drainage in older homes. A video inspection before closing is the only way to know the hidden risks. Now that you have closed just be thankful you found this before you replaced all the flooring etc. I can’t offer legal advice but I can advice to have the plumber inspect the entire system, not just that one line.

  23. I didn’t know that lush green grass could be a sign of leaky pipes. It does make sense, though, because it would be getting more water. I’ll have to tell my husband to look out for that when he mows the lawn because we do live in an older home.

  24. Hello, could your drain lines under the home with a slab foundation leak without any noticeable signs causing foundation to fail?.

    I live on a hill and the street is about 15′ lower than foundation.

    And my closet sometimes smells like soil could that be apart of a drain problem?

    No back up at al.

  25. Several sewer back ups some only 2 weeks apart. We use a rooter and pull out baby wipes ( we don’t have kids or use wipes) also for past two years we haven’t put any toilet paper in toilet for fear it was contributing. But when it backs up we get toilet paper coming up! It’s not ours! Sometimes happens during rain but sometimes not. Neighbors have a baby and I found wipes blown into our yard. City wasn’t helpful. Was able to get someone else to look a sewer paper and said it didn’t connect to anyone else’s line. If it was roots or collapsed pipe how would we be getting other people’s stuff? Even if we aren’t home to use water it can back up. At this point we feel hopeless.

    1. Elin, I would start with a through video inspection of the entire building drain. They can trace out the pipes and see where the city tie-in is and if there are any breaks or cracks. When you have the drain snaked it may be going into the sewer and pulling back debris in the city main. You said the city wasn’t helpful, did they camera their main. Are the neighbors on either side also experiencing backups?

  26. I like how you mentioned that a sewage backup is typically caused by a blockage somewhere in the line. For the last week when I have flushed my toiled the shower has backed up. It sounds like this could be from tree roots. I’ll have to let my wife know it could be a good idea to look for a pipeline cleaner.

  27. My toilet started flushing with less pressure for weeks then backed up. Thought I just needed a plunger but now it’s very low pressure and bowl hardly fills, after awhile it will fill about half of what it used to. Do pipes below it need to be snaked?
    Tub has drained slow for many years but plumber told me it’s because pipe is horizontal. I live on third floor, and Don’t want to cause damage below.

    How long do seals last under toilets ? Nor same toilet, other one started leaking a bit near base.

  28. Hi, i live in a property where the pipe had collapsed which is leading from manhole in our garden to the street line. The toilet would bring up everything we tried to flush and extras. There was a foul smell which would arise from the toilet and the garden. The sewage company had made a big hole at the from of the house detect the problem. We had smell coming from back, front and in the house.

    My question is does the (toxic/nauseous)smell effect the health of the family members in the property, especially kids health. If so then how please let me know as i am concerned parent. My son keeps getting sore throats and bronchitis which has lead to getting a inhaler.

  29. Hi, great article and very informative. I’ve lived in my home for a year now and 3 times we’ve had sewage backups out of the drain outside our rear basement door. Ive also noticed a sewage-type smell inside of our washing machine which struck me as a possible sign of a problem. We’ve also had a major fruit fly/sewage fly problem once with the flies coming out of several sinks/tubs in the house. In addition, we have a mouse problem and we can’t find where in the world they are getting into the house (and neither can Terminix, our pest control service). Your article has me convinced we are facing a serious sewage line issue.

    The person who sold us the house had installed all new plumbing, including a new sewer line, up to where the house’s Sewage line meets meets the front of the house. Is it possible the line from the front of the house to the street is where the problem is? Or could it be the new plumbing was not installed properly? I’m guessing it could be both but would love any thoughts or advice you might have. I plan to have a camera inspection done by a good plumber so any tips you have in that regard would also be much appreciated. Thank you!

  30. That’s interesting that a sewage leak can cause extra green and lush patches of grass. I feel like that’s one problem that’s hard to notice if you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s why I think that’s why it’s good to be aware of these other signs of a damaged sewer pipe.

  31. I’ve been experiencing lots of problems everytime our pipes are being damaged. Among the symptoms you’ve mentioned, I think the worst scenario for me is the Rodent problem since it’s life-threatening. If it happens, you will also need to see a doctor aside from a sewer repair expert!

  32. I never knew that it’s possible that there’s a problem in your main sewer line if you’re experiencing a back up when you flush your toilet or run water down your sink. This is what I’m trying to find out because it has been days since our drainages seem to be blocked, and I’m trying to figure out what the real problem is so I can ask for help from a professional. I will make sure to contact a septic system specialist as soon as possible for help.

  33. Lenora R Walton

    Yeah! great topic to choose.Your article is very elaborative I am loving while reading it.Some of the facts are unknown to me thanks for providing information and helping me out.

  34. we had a new dain field put in 2 years ago and it has holes on top with water coming out is this normal

  35. I was never aware that it’s possible that you have may have a broken septic tank if there’s a septic wastewater that’s pooling in your yard. My husband told me that it’s very unusual for our yard to be filled with septic waste in it. We’re trying to find out what’s the possible cause of the problem, so I’m glad that I saw your blog. I will make sure to contact a septic tank repair company soon.

    1. Rosaleen McDaid

      Hi thr I have. Rats in my cavity walls sounds thr behind the toilet I hv rat prided my house so I’m just wonder is it my suit line broken and tht the way thr getin in and I’d wht my next step to solve this

    2. Rosaleen McDaid

      Hi thr I have. Rats in my cavity walls sounds thr behind the toilet I hv rat prided my house so I’m just wonder is it my suit line broken and tht the way thr getin in and I’d wht my next step to solve this I live in ca

  36. It has been a while since the drain of the kitchen and bathroom sinks started slowing down, and my sister asked me if there is something wrong. It was good to know from this post that slow drains are a symptom of blockages that will eventually lead the sewer system to back up. If so, then I ought to call a plumber to help us with the issue right away. Thanks!

  37. stephanie best

    So we live on a hill and half our house is underground, this includes our kitchen and dining room and our downstairs bathroom. Last month we smelled a skunk smell, saw a skunk so we figured that is what it was, well the skunk , we are hoping has gone we blocked the area we saw him in and even hired a skunk guy. The smell went away, well in the meantime our meter was bad smelled gas got that fixed. So the last month on random very early morning hours we would wake up to the skunk smell, called the gas company and the one guy told us it smelled like pot in our house no gas leak!!
    we thought our trap dried up from not using the downstairs shower, took care of that, smell left, well over the weekend the smell has come back, I really hate this skunk smell, cant sleep opened the windows for the whole day, we do have a grinder in our house, that was checked and that is good. We do have a pipe running underground behind our kitchen cabinets, but we do not have any signs of a leak, going into our crawl space later when we both get home from work to see if anything is leaking down there or any rodents living there, we hope they did not get in. Just confused because the smell only comes at 3 or 4 am and once a week. also getting a plumber to check things out for us. any other suggestions would be awesome

  38. Thanks for bringing to my attention that slow drains can indicate problems with your sewer line. My husband and I have noticed that our sinks are draining really slowly. We’ll definitely look into having a professional come and take a look at the sewer line.

  39. Pingback: Have You Ever Experienced Sewage Problems? - ServiceMaster

  40. Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog about sewer pipe damage symptoms. It is necessary to know when the damage goes to the optimum level. We need to decide the stage of damage, so that we can fix it instantly before call the plumber. It the damage is big, then there is no option other than plumber. I can suggest – https://www.difrancowaterproofing.com/sewer-repair/
    They are good in service. I think plumbers are perfect to do this. Last month I faced the situation of sewer gas odor around my lawn. In this situation I called plumber immediately and they did their job nicely.

  41. I never knew that it’s possible that your septic tank is broken if you notice that there’s a septic waster that’s pooling in your yard. Our yard where our septic tank is placed is noticeably becoming flooded. It’s important for me to address the problem properly, so I will make sure to contact a septic tank repair specialist.

  42. Pingback: Sewer Lines: How They Work & How Much They Cost to Install

  43. Lauren Mitchell

    Could you recommend the name of a plumbing company in Woodstock, Georgia? We do have pooling above our septic tank out in the yard and I can also smell a sewage gas smell.

  44. You got my attention when you said that it’s possible that your sewer pipe has issues that are causing the blockage on all your drains if you’re experiencing slow drains. Actually, almost all our drainage systems have been clogged since last night. We did everything to clear the clogs, but none of our techniques worked. I will make sure to have a professional clean and repair our septic system.

  45. It got my attention when you said that a slow drain is a sign that your drainage has a blockage that can cause sewage backup. This is probably the reason why all of our drains have been clogged since last night. There has also been a foul odor in our house, so I’ll make sure to have our sewer system repaired.

  46. Thanks for sharing this topic. I really got a lot of ideas on how to know if my sewer pipe has a damaged. Also it is better to call the attention of a professional plumber in case we have major issues with our pipes.

  47. I live in an apartment and was having some black stuff coming into the toilet bowl when I flushed. Had to clean it every other day or it would get really bad. Have been pouring in straight bleach and letting it sit for a half hour or so then brush and flush. It’s much better now than it was. It’s not instantly there after I flush now. It has lessened to the point that you just see a thin line of it and don’t have to scrub it nearly as often. Just found out that the new tenant behind me had poo stuck in her lines. So my question is could all the poo staying in her lines cause black mold to come up into her bowl and my bowl. Forgot to tell you she has black stuff coming in every time she flushes.

  48. Hello I really need your help for my boss to understand about his building has old cast pipe from 1982 to today 2018. He stubbornly fought with flood up in the toilet pipe with Home Depot drain clean out rent. I tried to tell him to get rent snake eye camera to see what wrong with it. But it final drain flood away as he thought he won in his wrong picture! I don’t think so because still he does not know why the flood up such broken pipes, or grease block, or whatever. The broken pipe may be good draining as he thinks so! No! It can cause sinkhole by broken pipe leaking! Don’t ya image this shop carries many different metals and fencing panels are total of extremely weight on the ground! May we end up in grant hole of South Mexico! Do ya have any photo referral about building collapsing in the sinkholes shown to his wife? HELP!

  49. You got me when you said that it’s possible that your septic tank is broken if you notice that there’s a septic wastewater that’s pooling in your yard. Our yard seems to be always flooded even if the weather is dry. In fact, there are plants in our yard that withered due to overwatering. Since we have been experiencing clogs since the other day, I will make sure to hire a septic tank repair specialist that can help us to address the problem as soon as possible.

  50. we are replacing the pipes and my husband is doing the digging to save money but when he reached the pipes the sides started to cave in and water filled up how can we get rid of the water

  51. Our house has cast iron sewer line, built in 1950. We have had intermittent sewer smells in the bathroom. The plumber could not find any issues with p-traps, or toilet connection.
    He was only able to do a minimal inspection of the cast iron sewer line located in the wall due to limited access. He suggested that we pour peppermint extract down vent stack and if we detect that smell in bathroom, it would indicate a potential crack. Have you heard of this as a sustitute for smoke test?

  52. Hello I have a question. my neighbor and I have a shared sewer lateral line. I want to have my lateral relined am i allowed to do so?

  53. Sewage backups and blockages as you mentioned is something I’ve been noticing with the bathroom shed lately so its drainage pipes may need some repair. Since I have been noticing some sewer gas odor as you pointed out as well, it may be a sign that the pipes may burst any minute. Some indentation in the lawn as you suggested may also be a sign that it’s an indicator to call professional repairs so I’ll take your advice and get help soon.

  54. We bought a 40 year old ranch with a full bath in the finished basement and a full bath directly above it on the main level. ONLY in summer we have intermittent sewer smell in both bathrooms. We have never had the smell in the Master Bath which is about 35 feet away from the other bath. We have NOT had any sewer smell since November(we live in the Northeast so it is cold here from November through March) so it seems there’s some relationship to the smell and outside temperature. A local radio show plumber suggested installing a whole house trap to solve the problem. He also mentioned a possible problem with roof vent pipes. Any thoughts?

  55. Great article! I came upon it doing a Google search about a strange odor in my garage. Some days it is very strong and foul and other days no odor at all. Probably smell it about 75% of the time. I live in a condo that is 18 years old and none of my neighbors have reporter any sewer line problems. I have no other symptoms-all drains are clear, no toilets or sinks backing up. One sink does sometimes give off a foul odor and happens to be in the bathroom above the side of the garage where the odor seems to emanate from. Thoughts?

  56. Russell Jackson

    I have an overflow on my back porch directly behind my washer drain line that flows heavily after draining the sinks. The smell comes back up from the sinks in the house. Most of the time the water exiting on my back porch is dark with dark chunks and white threads looking like saturated expanded rice. Any ideas before hiring a plumber?

  57. It’s good to know that lush patches of grass may indicate a sewage leak. I have noticed one patch in my yard that appears greener than the rest and a bit sunken in. I will call a professional to see if they can identify the problem.

    1. That’s a good move, Lyla. A professional video inspection of your drainage pipes will identify any issues. Please let us know what you find out. We wish you the best.

  58. Sounds like Grease build up , overtime that stuff really starts to stink. You have p trap installed on the drain under the sink? Should be p trap to stop sewer gas from entering.

  59. Rented a snake to clean outside trap/line ( a few mos. back), the cap could not be put on pipe (as top parts of pipe were broken. Line worked for several months, unfortunately, TP/ETC. are now backing up onto lawn, ? is is it because trap is uncovered? If so, how do I replace? Can I use a larger cover and attach somehow. TY

  60. I never took into account that an insect infestation or mold growth could be a sign of a broken line in our sewer. We have noticed an odor in our home in the past couple of days and we think that one of our pipes must have busted. I’m sure a professional plumber can check the pipes to see if we have any problems with our water system.

  61. Stunning, I had no clue that there were such huge numbers of issues with sewer crumbling. I was likewise uninformed that sewer pipe harm had such a large number of side effects, however I get it makes it marginally simpler to analyze the issue. Unfortunately it can even reason form to create, on the grounds that those fixes are an issue, and can be costly. Much appreciated such a great amount for composing, I’ll need to watch out for these issues.

  62. Ever since i have moved into my unit my toulet has a didgusting gassy, sewer smell that occurs every couple of weeks. Mind you i have been here for 8 months now. I have noticed that every time this occurs the water in the toilet is low and not the normal amount of water that shoukd be in the toilet. I have advised the owner who has even smelt it. He got his plumber around twice now and the plumber says he cant find anything well actually they said they located a heap of old rubbish or something like that and i do not know where even they found the rubbish im guessing in the pipes. I knew it wasnt just old rubbish as the smell is a gas/sulpher smell. The plumber and the owner are good friends so i dont know what to think. It has happened a few times after they cleaned out the old rubbish. I feel like im not being heard. I have 13 weeks of my lease left what do i do.

  63. I had a plumber come out 2 weeks ago after I experienced a backup in my shower and no toilets would flush. The plumber snaked for 40 minutes ans boring came up, he said it was a main line drain problem. Well now, I’m having another problem, in the middle of the night I heard knocking a few days ago and I was confused where it was coming from. Tonight when I got out the shower, my toilet made a noise as if all the water had just went down; like a gulp. My kid then showered about one hour later and I heard noise coming from my toilet that sounded like gurgling. When I went to inspect I noticed water was building up in my shower, like coming back up the pipes. I do have a huge tree in the front yard and there are cracks in the house, as well as areas in my backyard that seem to sink in. Whenever it rains these areas fill with water like a little puddle or pothole. A neighbor who lives 2 doors down is having her yard duh up . I’m lost on what to do since someone just came out and nothing was ok the pipes. I’m not sure if it’s the tree roots or another problem. Another thing, after the oil we cane to fix the pipes last time, shortly afterwards we had a foul odor in our home and could not figure out what was causing it. The odor was near the water heater, not sure if it’s related but I’m in need of guidance Please help.

  64. After about 6 months of moving into our rented home, our septic backed up into the master and main bathtub. The property management company had a reputable septic company come and pump it out after almost a week. They informed us the drain field was bad, the previous tenants had poured alot of grease down the drains. 5 months later it backed up again. The same reputable septic company replaced the septic filter(different tech this time) About 4 months ago, we noticed a brown mold seeping through the baseboards in the master bath and no matter how often or well you cleaned it with bleach and all other bathroom cleaners, there was still a faint foul smell. Around the same time, my husband and I have started to suffer from skin rashes and extreme skin irritation that comes and goes. Tried switching laundry detergent and body soap, no help. He broke out in hives all over his body but was treated with steroids, benadryl, and pepcid a.c.. I have.still been suffering. Take benadryl and pepcid every night but it’s still bothering me, some days better than others. Waiting on maintainince to come out and diagnose. There is brown mold all over the main bath and we don’t use master bedroom because the septic overflowed onto the carpet the last time in the master, but our new bedroom is right next to the contaminated bathroom so maybe switch back. This is terrible though. When maintenance finally does come, I hope they j7st don’t tear the baseboards off and replace those. They need to fix whatever is broken behind the wall

    1. Follow uo to initial compliant, the drain field was never replaced on the first backup. The carpets were never addressed by property management it took over a week for the first pumpout. 2 days for the second. The smell in the main bath is so bad, it smells like someone took a #2 in there all the time, and we pay $1350 a month for rent. This is disgraceful and I feel unhealthy.

  65. Jean McFarland

    I just bought a new house it was a new spec house 3 yrs ago. Last year I noticed in the spare bathroom the grout in the tile around the toilet looked wet. I tried drying it with a hair dryer it worked but it came back. It looked like spider veins going from the toilet. We finally replaced the toilet thinking that was the problem. A leaky toilet. Well now it has started again. Would that be a sewer issue you think.

  66. I have lived in a 12yr old condo for 2 1/2 years and just in the past 3-4 weeks have noticed a sewer gas odor. I have 3 bathrooms and rarely use the lower level one and the shower/ tub in the second bath so ran water down all drains including drain in furnace room. Also, I’ve checked all toilets for stability, the 2 upstairs ones were new when I moved in, called the city wastewater dept. and they ran a camera from street to my condo and found nothing, they suggested having my HOA send someone with camera to go down the vent stacks to see if a dead bird or nest there and they found nothing. They suggested the vent pipes be extended higher. I hired a plumber myself for a second opinion and he could find no reason for the sewer gas inside. He also suggested raising the sewer vents and also noticed the roof vent which is not too far away has the inside flap coming loose. Appreciate your oponion and advice. Thanks

    1. Find a plumber or pipe lining contractor that can perform a vapor test on the drainage system. This will reveal and hidden breaks, cracks, or deficiencies in the walls or ceilings.

  67. We keep having sewers gas odor coming from the ac vents when turned on. I had the ducts checked, vents in attic checked and a video inspection done but it’s still there. I had to close the vent in the master because it’s stronger in there. Could this be a broken or cracked vent line?

  68. I find it helpful when you said that a slow drain is a sign that there’s a clog in my plumbing pipes that needs fixing before it leads to sewage backup. The drain on the sink in our kitchen drains very slowly, so we’ve avoided using the sink for about two weeks now. I don’t want to wait until a sewage backup incident happens, so I’ll follow your advice and call a plumbing pipe service tomorrow. Thanks!

  69. Either it backs up or you find a over moist spot in the lawn between the street that stinks to high heaven. Do be sure you will need to call a pluming service to run a camera through the pipe to locate the problem.

    1. Michele Brillhart

      Good point, thanks for the recommendation. The only way to truly know what’s happening with your pipes is to have a diagnostic video inspection performed by a qualified plumbing contractor. Be sure to get a digital copy of the video for your records.

  70. I live in oregon in a 100 year old house. I had sewer in my basement and the plumber stated “you are connected to the house next door” needless to say brand new sewer line . Now I notice my retaining wall bulging where the old line was. What is my first step? Don’t get along with the neighbors!

    1. Pipelining Technologies

      Antique houses can come with many surprises – including plumbing! Your local municipal office may be the best place for you to inquire about this interesting connection with your neighbor. Since each jurisdiction has their own regulations, you’ll want to be sure you know the guidelines before you make any decisions or changes.

  71. Hi I I have a leak in all of the floors around my bathroom. If we stop using the toilet and shower the floors dry up. I hired a plumber and he said it was the ac drain line. We cleaned the ac drain line and replaced all of the floors. The system backed up yesterday and leaked through all
    Of the floors. We hired a leak detection company they went through the roof and said it could be an elbow joint in the kitchen. But they can’t say for sure where the leak is coming from. No one physically looks at the toilet or the shower. I don’t know what else to do as when the toilet and shower is used the floors continue to leak and I will have to replace the floors again. This time I need to know where it is coming from.

    1. Pipelining Technologies

      Hi Yesi, we’re sorry to hear you’re having these issues. It sounds like you’ve tried to take steps to correct it and it still hasn’t been resolved. From your information, it’s unclear if you’ve had a comprehensive video inspection of your entire system. If not, that’s definitely the first step. It’s really the only way to see what’s happening inside the pipes and to assess their condition. We always recommend choosing a licensed, insured local plumbing contractor. Please let us know how this turns out. All the best.

  72. Hi, I live in a mobile home. I own the house but not the land. The owners had septic pumped this past fall. Sewer smell immediately. I called, told me to wait a week. I called back, they said due to Covid they couldn’t come in house and smell it. Said it was probably a dead animal. They also own the Septic Co. Called 2 plumbers, one said it was probably the vent on top of house and he couldn’t fix that. Second guy told me it was my vent under sink and would be $325. Had handyman change P-trap and vent under sink, toilet seems steady so I didn’t check ring. I had done bleach twice, at one point it was pretty good. Now it smells terrible again. I figure it has to be a cracked pipe under bathroom. I’d have to have someone go under house. Could pumping septic have caused a pipe to crack?

    1. Pipelining Technologies

      Hi Lynne, we’re sorry to hear you’re having these issues. It’s difficult to say what’s going on just by reading this post, but a sewer pipe video inspection with a vapor test (AKA: smoke test) would reveal the sewer gas leaks entering your house. We often find sewer gas leaks in the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen areas. We only use and recommend non-toxic, pet-safe vapor. The video inspection could detect a cracked pipe or other issues. Also, ask the plumbing inspection company for a copy of the video and a drawing/map with measurements of your pipelines. These items may be needed to make repairs such as pipe lining. Hope this helps you. Please be sure to write an update; we want to know what happens. Thanks

    1. Pipelining Technologies

      Hi Tracy, we have had success helping homeowners go through their insurance coverage. Each policy is different, so it would depend on your coverage. We’d recommend starting a conversation with your insurance company to find out what your guidelines are. Let us know how it goes; we’d like to hear about your progress.

  73. We recently had our sewer system repaired from the stack to the street. We discovered there was a slow leak in the pipe under the foundation wall of our home. Unbeknownst to us, the sewer was leaking dirty water under our basement floor and running through our drainage system into our sump pump. The sewer problem is fixed, but we are still seeing some drain flies around the sump pump. Do you ha e any suggestions for the best way to clean out the under slab drainage pipes and the sump pump? It was suggested that we just start running water slowly into the drainage channel along the basement wall to flush out the pipes.

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