Your sewer plumbing system is composed of two distinct lines: water and waste. Freshwater is piped into your home, is used, and leaves your home as wastewater. The bridge between these two lines is your fixtures. You turn on the water in the sink. That’s the waterline. It falls from the faucet into the drain. That’s the waste line.
Water is piped into your home with pressure. Your drains operate mostly on gravity and also air pressure from a vented system. The pipes on the roof? Those are vents that allow for the proper air pressure into the waste line, so no vacuum forms to block the flow. Dip a straw into a glass of water, put your finger over the hole and raise the straw out of the water. The straw holds onto the water. Move your finger off the hole, and the water flows out quickly. That’s pretty how vents work.
One of the most unsettling plumbing issues that can arise is the need for sewer line repair when drains back up. A problem can cause sewage gas in the air or raw sewage to back up in the house into tub drains. Toilets don’t flush, they overflow. Is this a simple clog, or could it be your sewer line is somehow damaged?
Your Drains are Backing Up
If one of your drains is backing up or just not draining correctly, that’s a clog somewhere in the line between that fixture and the main waste pipe leading out of the house. This can be repaired with standard clog removal. Call our team at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and we will get your drains running right, in no time. However, if you are experiencing clogged drains in all areas, the problem is either:
- A clog in the waste pipe
- A clogged air vent creating a vacuum blockage in the line
- A clog in the waste pipe that runs into the municipal sewer line or a line that has collapsed at one point
- The municipal sewer line is blocked or under repair (check and see if your neighbors are having the same problem
Some houses have multiple vent pipes on the roof that emerge from different parts of the drain system, particularly in larger homes. If only some of the drains are clogged, and they all seem to be in the same general side of the house. Suspect the venting system for blockage.
Your Drains are Slow
If all your drains are slow, you likely have a blockage constricting the flow of waste through the line. Some of the key reasons this can occur are:
- Earlier clogs in the waste line that were only partially cleared and left a “donut” in the pipe
- Roots invading the waste line out in your yard that are in the process of creating a clog
- Cracks in the waste pipe that allowed dirt, sand, and rocks into the line.
- Grease dumped down the drain while hot that congealed further down the line and began accumulating other waste matter.
- Flushable wipes routinely flushed down the toilet can hang up on the rough edges of the sewer pipe in the front yard and gather grease and food waste.
- A sewer line that is broken or crushed in parts and slowing down the flow rate.
The Presence of Sewer Gas Odor
This odor indicates that the sewer line has been breached somewhere in the house and is leaking sewage. It could be behind walls or under or near the foundation slab. Our professional technicians will identify the problem without delay. Sewer gas odor means sewage leakage. This problem leads to a toxic home environment and must be treated as an emergency.
You may discover mold or water in a wall, corner, or ceiling. If present, the location of the leak must be found and repaired.
Tell-Tale Signs on Your Lawn
If wastewater is leaking out of the pipes under your lawn, you may see patches of very green grass or vegetation that is growing out of proportion. Sewage is fertilizer.
Lawn indentations near the sewer line or sinkholes indicate underground erosion from leaking water. Wastewater leaking can be identified by tilted pavers over the sewer line or trees that seem to be leaning. The soil is saturated with water beyond its ability to drain, or it is eroding soil away and collapsing the structure of your landscape.
Cracks in Your Foundation, Warped Walls and Steps
If the main sewer line is leaking under your house’s slab, it may create holes that stress the foundation and develop cracks in the slab or the foundation walls. Left untreated, this can cause severe structural damage to your home. The good news is that this happens slowly. Most homeowners notice one or more of the above signs before severe damage occurs.
What to Do if Your Sewer Line is Damaged
If your sewer line is damaged, this is a job for the professionals – not a DIY project. Give Benjamin Franklin Plumbing a call, and we will make conduct an inspection, pinpointing the exact cause and advise you of the solution. If it is definitely in the outside sewer line, we can do a video inspection and determine if it can be repaired with a plumbing snake or if a more extensive repair would save you more time and money in the long run. Whatever your problem with your plumbing or sewer line, we can give you viable options that fit your budget.