5 Signs of Impending Sewer Trouble

Water Faucet - Seattle, WA - Quality Plumbing

The last thing you want this holiday season is a house full of guests when your sewer line decides to fail. The good news is that a sewer line problems rarely occur without first providing a lot of warning. Know the signs of impending sewer lines issues so you can have the problem repaired before major damage occurs.


1. Rotten Egg Odor

Sewer odors can manifest as the smell of burning sulfur, rotten eggs, skunk smell, or just plain old sewage. The odor comes from sewer gases backing up in your drains and somehow leaching back into the home. Sewer gasses in the home can be dangerous because they contain Hydrogen sulfide gas, which is toxic at low levels.


Possible Causes

Foul sewage smells don’t necessarily mean that the line has broken. Often, the odors are caused by a dried out or broken seal that is allowing gas back into the home. In other cases, the issue could be with a damaged rooftop vent stack. A plumber can inspect your seals and vents to determine where the gas is gaining entry into your home.


2. Slow Drains

A sewer drain rarely becomes completely blocked all at once. Usually the clog develops slowly over time, so that the drains begin emptying incrementally slower until they fail to drain at all. In extreme cases, the drains don’t just slow, but reverse so that the sewage comes back up the drains and into your home.


Possible Causes

The most likely cause is a blockage in your home’s main sewer drain. A plumber with a pipe camera can find the cause and location of the obstruction so it can be cleared out. If your drains are clear, then the issue may be along the main municipal sewage line, which means that you must contact your municipal water utility for a repair.


3. Gurgling Drains

Although gurgling can occur in any drain, it is often first noticed in the toilet. You may hear gurgling right after a flush, or it may occur when the toilet hasn’t been recently used. Sometimes gurgles are followed by bubbles in the bowl and the smell of raw sewage.


Possible Causes

Gurgles indicate a clog forming in the drain pipe. Often, the clog is in the affected drain so you only need to have it cleared. In some cases, though, the clog is actually in your main sewer line. Regardless of the exact location, you need to have the clog located and cleared before the drain begins to backup.


4. Lush Lawn

A major sign of a break in your home’s sewer line is a healthier-looking lawn. You may notice an area of grass that seems more lush or green. In some cases, the lush grass forms a line from your house to the street. If the leak is severe, then the lawn may also seem wet or boggy in the area.


Possible Causes

When the lawn is lusher in a just a patch, chances are the sewer line ruptured or is leaking at a joint. If the greener patch follows the sewer line, then the whole line may be failing. In either case, you must have the pipe removed and replaced.


5. Sinkholes

Sinkholes are on the rise nationwide as both municipal and private sewer infrastructure ages. Sometimes sinkholes occur unexpectedly, but often there are warning signs when they are forming in your yard. You may notice low areas forming in lawn areas that seem wetter or greener than the surrounding grass. In some cases, pavement cracks may form near the area of a developing sinkhole.


Possible Causes

The most likely cause is a broken sewer line, although the main water supply line could also be the problem. Act quickly if you suspect a sinkhole is forming, as they can be dangerous to both people and property.


Contact Quality Plumbing to address your plumbing issue before it becomes a major problem.