When you begin shopping for your first home, you quickly learn that there are two types of sewer service. Either the municipality where the home is located provides sewer service to the community, or the home has its own septic tank located on the property. If sewer service is provided by the municipality, you are in luck. You don’t have to maintain a septic system. However, you are still responsible for maintaining the sewer line that runs from your home to the street. From the street on out, the city will handle any necessary repairs.
This means that you just have to worry about addressing problems that occur between your house and the street. Sometimes, problems can occur along the sewer line in your yard; most often, these problems occur because roots or some other object have infiltrated the sewer line and caused a blockage. Roots can even cause the sewer line to crack. Sometimes, a foreign object gets flushed down the toilet and eventually lodges in the sewer line. Obviously, this foreign object will have to be removed. Pipes can also crack as the simple result of old age. Over time, the pipes wear down and a crack or break can develop.
If you have a problem with your sewer line, don’t ignore it. Call a plumber to inspect and repair the line right away. A sewer line problem is not something that you want to get worse. Ignoring it will only allow the problem to get worse and the repairs to get more expensive. You can address sewer line problems promptly if you know how to spot them. Use these tips to help you watch out for sewer line problems so that you can get any issues resolved quickly.
How to Recognize a Sewer Line Problem
- 1. The water level in the toilet bowl fluctuates. This may not seem like a problem, but it is actually a good indicator of sewer line problems. Pay attention to the water level in the toilet bowl; it should be pretty consistent. If the water level seems to be too low or too high at times, this may be an indication of a sewer line problem. If the sewer line gets clogged, it can impact the flow of water, causing the toilet bowl’s water level to fluctuate. If the water level in your toilet bowl seems to fluctuate, you should call a plumber to inspect the system right away.
- 2. Your drains empty slowly. A slow drain doesn’t seem like a major problem, right? You just clean out the drain with a chemical drain cleaner, and it’ll be fine. That’s not necessarily the case, though. Those chemical drain cleaners can be damaging to your pipes, and they’re just not a good thing to put into the water supply. To top it off, they may not even get rid of the problem. A sink drain or shower drain that empties slowly can be an indication of a problem with the sewer line. If your drains are emptying slowly, you can try a home remedy first. Pour equal parts of baking soda and vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for an hour, and then flush with hot water. This will clear out clogs. If this doesn’t get rid of your slow drain, or if it helps but the problem comes back, then it’s time to call a plumber for an inspection.
- 3. You have pests in your home or yard. Are mice, rats, or insects hanging out around your house? The scent of a broken sewer line can attract rodents and insects. If you see an influx of rodents or insects around the house, it could be caused by a problem with your sewer line.
- 4. Your house or yard stinks. Your sewer line carries the waste from your house to the sewer main on the street. If your sewer line cracks or breaks, the gases from the sewer will escape. It’ll smell bad. If you notice that nasty odor in your house or around your yard, then you should definitely call a plumber right away. This isn’t a good sign.
Preparing for Trenchless Sewer Repair
In the past, you had to dig up your entire yard if you had to repair your sewer line. Today, there is a much better option. With trenchless sewer repair, the damaged sewer pipe can be repaired without having to dig a trench. Instead, you’ll only need one or two small holes in the yard. Before a trenchless sewer repair project begins, though, there are a few things that you should know. Check out these tips for preparing for trenchless sewer repair.
- 1. Make sure that you are in compliance with local building codes. It’s always a good idea to check out the local codes before you start a big project, and that is true for trenchless sewer repair, as well. Find out before you get started whether there have been any changes to the code that might affect your project. You may need to alter your plans so that your repairs meet the current building code.
- 2. Check for any possible obstructions. Whenever you are digging in the yard, it’s important to make sure that you won’t run into any underground utilities or other important fixtures. Get in touch with your local utility company to verify that it’s safe to dig. There is a hotline that you can use, known as Call Before You Dig. Just dial 811, and the operator will help you out.
- 3. Assess the severity of the damage. Before you start making repairs, you need to know how serious the damage is. If you have big patches in your lawn that are always wet, then you may have broken drain lines. It may not be possible to use trenchless sewer repair. In severe cases like this, the damaged portion of pipe may have to be removed completely before repairs can proceed.
- 4. Get rid of roots. Damage to sewer lines is often caused by tree roots that have grown into the sewer line. Even if you don’t (or can’t) remove the tree itself, you can deal with the root problem. First, dig up roots that grow near the sewer line. Then you can treat the roots in order to keep them from causing problems again.
- 5. Eliminate clogs. Get rid of clogs that could be blocking your drains before you start a trenchless sewer repair project. If you aren’t sure what’s going on in your drains, call a plumber. A plumber can use a video inspection technique to actually see inside your drains. This way, you know what you’re getting into before a major project begins.
When the plumber is ready to proceed with repairs, he will need to dig two small access holes. One is for entry, and the other is for exit. This is quite minimally invasive when compared to digging a trench. These holes will be used to insert the new pipe or lining that is being used to complete the repair.