Do I Need To Replace My Sewer Line?

Once you begin noticing plumbing issues in your house, it can be difficult to determine precisely what is causing them. After all, you can’t take a peek inside of your sewer line. Although you might realize that you’re in need of cleaning or unclogging services, it may not be that simple. In some cases, you may learn that you have a much larger problem on your hands.

When things start going awry with your household plumbing, there’s a good chance that your sewer line could be in need of replacement. Here are some critical signs to look out for.

Sewer Line Layout

Multiple and Persistent Clogs

It’s one thing to have a single stopped-up drain in your home, but what if you have several? Moreover, what if they keep coming back after being cleared? When multiple drains are clogged or become that way repeatedly, there’s more going on than a hairball in the pipe. Since all of your drains lead to your sewer line, chronic blockages can indicate that there’s something wrong with it.

Foul Odors From Drains

If your sewer line is seriously damaged to the point of causing a blockage, waste and water will pass through inefficiently or not at all. Naturally, as the contents accumulate, the evidence is going to come back up through your drains. Many people simply assume that their drains are dirty and pour cleaners down them to eliminate the odors, even when the smells persist. This is usually a sure sign that something is amiss inside of your sewer line.

Smelly Basement Leaks

Do you ever go to your basement and wonder where that horrid stench could be coming from? If so, consider paying close attention to your basement walls, especially any around any entry points for pipes. If your sewer line is collapsed, corroded or otherwise broken, that sewage only has one place to go: Your back yard. Every time you flush your toilet or run the water, it seeps into the ground surrounding your sewer line. When it gets to be too much, sewage can begin leaking through your home’s foundation. This is a serious problem that must be fixed as quickly as possible to lessen potential property damage.

Lawn Flooding

Of course, it’s unlikely that your home’s foundation will be the only thing showing evidence of sewer line damage. Sewage can also back up into your lawn in low-lying areas, creating putrid cesspools that smell up the entire yard. In cases like this, quick sewer line replacement is essential.

Gurgling Drains

If you’ve been puzzled by mysterious gurgling noises from your drains, you should call in a sewer line specialist. This can indicate a partial blockage further down the sewer pipe. If an inspection reveals damage, replacement will be needed.

Toilet Backups

Maybe all of those toilet backups you experience aren’t just the result of a poor-quality fixture. What if it’s actually caused by a damaged sewer line? When sewage has no place left to go, it’s reasonable to expect that it would make your toilet back up. Furthermore, sewer line damage can also prevent the bowl from filling to its normal capacity after each flush.

Factors Associated With Damaged Sewer Lines

In most cases, a sewer line replacement is necessary if the pipe has rusted through, caved in on itself or becomes disjointed or cracked. There are several factors that can influence this.

Soil Activity

The freeze-thaw process and natural shifts or settling in the soil can cause undue strain on sewer pipes, causing them to crack or break.


Years of exposure to the elements can cause metal pipes to rust and weaken to the point of collapse.

Bad Seals

Sections of sewer pipe are guarded by seals to help prevent leakage. When these degrade, they no longer provide a water-tight seal, allowing water to escape the joints.

Tree Roots

If you have a lot of trees on your property, there’s a good chance that their roots will eventually penetrate your sewer line, causing massive damage that necessitates replacement.

Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to running MESA with his team of Longmont plumbers.