Sewer line repair: These three words are dreaded by homeowners across the country, and no wonder. Sewer line repair is often expensive, and residents are typically responsible for the portion of the sewer line running from the house to the street. In this area, tree roots can grow through pipes, built-up gunk can clog pipes, and older steel or clay pipes may simply disintegrate altogether. Fortunately, if you can spot the following early indications of failing plumbing, you can usually save yourself money and heartache.
- Tubs, sinks and showers that drain slowly. Slowly draining sinks, tubs and showers can be infuriating. In such irritating situations, it can be tempting to respond by simply dumping Drano or Liquid Plumbr down the lagging drain, but this is unwise when dealing with older steel or clay pipes. Older pipes can easily be eaten away by these harsh products. Furthermore, a slowly draining pipe is often the first indication of a larger plumbing problem. To protect your pipes, call a professional plumber when you discover a slow-draining pipe. A plumbing contractor can deliver an expert assessment of the best way to maintain your home’s sewer system.
- Odd sounds and smells. Strange, strong smells and unusual sounds are other signs of a sewer line problem. Sewer line repair may be required if your toilet is making strange gurgling noises or if a sewage sinkhole shows up in your yard.
- Foundation-level water damage. Sewer damage can cause extra moisture to leak through your home’s foundation. If you see cracking around your home’s foundation, or moisture on your basement walls, call a plumbing contractor to double check that the wetness isn’t caused by a plumbing or sewer line problem.
- Changing water levels in the toilet bowl. In the morning, you notice that the water level in the toilet bowl is very low. Yet that evening, the bowl may be almost full. Such shifting water levels are often a sign of a failing sewer system, so call a professional plumber if you notice this phenomenon.
- Staining around basement drains. Water ring stains around basement drains are another indication that the sewer line needs the attention of a professional plumber.
- Booming pest populations. Malfunctioning sewer lines are like magnets to mice, rats and some insect pests. Sewer line repair may be required if you notice an increase in pest populations around your home.
In some situations, sewer line issues can be repaired using a patch; a plumbing contractor will simply cover over the leaky pipe. On the other hand, in more antiquated homes, this approach is usually temporary at best.
Especially with older plumbing systems, a leaky pipe is like an alarm, signaling that other pipes may also be on the brink of failure. To get a grip on whether your plumbing system can last, a professional plumber may send a remote camera through your network. If any pipes are about to break, the camera will give you a heads up. If your entire plumbing system is outdated and weak, it may be best to simply replace the whole thing. Although this can be a costly enterprise, with a price tag of at least a couple of thousand dollars, the upside is that a new sewer line will reliably perform its duty for decades to come.