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, channelling, or misaligned connections before you experience complete sewer line failure. Do not let your plumbing get to the point were 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.
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, channelling, cracks letting surrounding soil in, or a misaligned pipe connection. These issues can be detected by getting a sewer video inspection.
2) Sewer Gas 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 air tight everywhere with the exception of vent stacks on your roof which allow 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 Problem
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, channelling, or cracks, mentioned above in the beginning stages.
Note: Beware of using chemical drain cleaners to solve a slow drain or blockage. As the chemical 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 indentation in your lawn or under pavers. A cracked sewer main line that is consistently saturating the ground may cause 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
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 waste water 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.
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.