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Signs of a Broken Sewer Pipe You Should Never Ignore

An up close photo of a cracked pipe in the ground

The underground pipes that make up your sewer system are out of sight and often out of mind, but they are crucial for the smooth functioning of your home. A broken sewer pipe can lead to a multitude of plumbing problems, ranging from drain issues to severe sewage backups.

Identifying the signs of a broken sewer pipe early can save you from costly repairs and replacements down the line.

In this article, we’ll talk about the key signs of a broken sewer pipe that every homeowner should be aware of. By keeping an eye out for these symptoms, you can act quickly to address the problem before it escalates.

Broken Sewer Pipes Signs

Broken sewer pipes can manifest in numerous ways, often with subtle signs that can be tricky to spot. Don’t worry, though – we have all the info you need to be well-informed so you can care for your sewer system without waiting for things to get out of hand.

Strange Noises from Your Drains

Unusual sounds coming from your drains can be an early indicator of underground pipes in distress. Gurgling noises (especially after using the toilet or when water drains out) suggest that air is trapped in the sewer line due to a blockage or crack.

Unpleasant Odors

A properly functioning sewer system should be airtight, except for vent stacks allowing gases to escape. If you detect the foul odor of sewage in or around your home, it could be a sign of a crack or break in the sewer pipe, allowing gases to escape.

Slow Draining

While a single slow drain might just be a clogged pipe, multiple slow drains throughout your home can indicate a more serious problem with the main sewer line. If you’ve tried all the usual fixes for a slow drain with no success, it’s time to consider the possibility of a broken sewer pipe.

Water Damage or Foundation Problems

A broken sewer pipe beneath your home can cause water to leak and erode the soil around your foundation. If you notice new cracks in your foundation, unexplained water damage, or a sudden shift in the soil around your home, a broken sewer line could be the culprit.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew growth can result from the extra humidity caused by a leaking sewer pipe. If you see (or even suspect) mold or mildew in your home, especially if it’s coupled with a musty odor, it’s time to inspect your sewer lines and get ahead of the problem.

Lush Patches of Grass

While lush, green grass can be the result of diligent gardening, it can also signify a sewage leak underground. Sewage acts as a fertilizer, so if you notice that patches of your lawn are particularly vibrant (or growing faster than other areas), it could be due to a sewage leak from a broken pipe.

Rodent and Insect Invasions

Rodents and insects are attracted to sewage. If you notice an increase in pests (like rats or cockroaches) around your property, they could be finding their way in through cracks in your sewer pipes.

Pools of Septic Waste

One of the most obvious signs of a broken sewer pipe is the pooling of septic waste in your yard. If you see water pooling, and it hasn’t rained recently, you should be concerned about a potential sewer line break and contact the experts at Mainstream for help immediately. Septic waste is both unsanitary and dangerous for your family and pets, and should never be ignored.

Causes of Sewer Pipe Damage

To understand the root of the problem, let’s look at what causes sewer pipes to break:

Tree Roots

Tree roots are one of the frequent culprits behind sewer pipe damage and issues. Tree roots are attracted to the moisture and nutrients in sewer lines and can grow into the pipes through tiny cracks (or loose joints). Roots can cause breakage or leaks and wreak havoc on your system.


Older pipes made of cast iron or clay are susceptible to corrosion over time. As the pipes corrode, they can crack or collapse. If you have an older home, it is especially important to schedule regular sewer camera inspections to protect the integrity of your sewer system and your house.

Ground Movement

Shifting soil or heavy construction equipment can cause the ground to move, which can break or dislodge sewer pipes. It’s important to pay close attention after earthquakes or nearby construction to ensure your system is still working properly.

Extreme Temperature Changes

Freezing and thawing cycles can cause the ground to expand and contract, which can crack pipes… particularly those that aren’t buried deep enough.

Diagnosing a Broken Sewer Pipe

To diagnose a broken sewer pipe, you can trust the highly-trained plumbing team at Mainstream perform a camera inspection. This simple process involves sending a camera down your sewer line to visually inspect for damage. Your plumber can then determine the location and extent of the damage and provide you with a detailed repair plan to restore your sewer system to top shape with minimal disruption to your property and schedule.

Repairing a Broken Sewer Pipe

Once a broken sewer pipe is confirmed, there are several methods of repair:

Traditional Repair

This method involves digging up the yard or driveway to access the broken pipe and replacing it. It is invasive and can be costly due to the additional labor and restoration work required.

Trenchless Repair

Trenchless repair methods, such as pipe lining or pipe bursting, allow for repairs with minimal digging. These methods are less disruptive and can be more cost-effective in the long run. With flexible financing options and great discounts for our valued customers, we ensure that you’re able to get the repairs you need to keep enjoying your home when problems arise.

Pipe Replacement

In some cases (particularly with older systems), it may be more practical to replace the entire sewer line rather than repair a single break.

Preventative Measures Go A Long Way

To prevent future sewer line issues, consider the following:

  • Regular inspections and maintenance
  • Avoid planting trees near sewer lines
  • Proper disposal of grease and waste
  • Using water softeners to minimize pipe corrosion

Resolve Your Home’s Sewer Issues Before It’s Too Late

A broken sewer pipe is a serious issue that requires urgent attention. Recognizing the signs early can help you mitigate damage and save on repair costs.

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact the friendly and skilled professionals at Mainstream to assess your sewer system immediately. By being diligent, you can ensure the longevity of your plumbing and avoid the inconvenience of a major sewer line failure.

Remember, when it comes to sewer lines, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep an eye on the signs and act promptly to keep your home’s plumbing running smoothly. Call us now at 866-753-1441 or schedule online – our experts are standing by to help you 24/7!

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