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Keeping Your Sewer in Good Condition

4 min read • December 12th, 2019

Heil Plumbing

If your cast iron sewer pipes are 25 years of age or older, they can fail at any time. Once you encounter full sewer line failure, the drainage lines may already be compromised by tree root invasion, cracks, channeling, or misaligned connections. Don’t let the plumbing go so far as it fails! It will cost you far more to fix a broken or damaged sanitary sewer line than will diligent maintenance and repair. This article highlights 9 things that deteriorate and possibly break the sewer line.

Backups and Blockages

In the lowest open drain, sanitary sewer backups usually occur. Normally a sewage backup is triggered somewhere in the line by a blockage. When you encounter a flood any time you flush or run water down your sink or bath drain, the problem is likely to be in your main sewer line as all drains depend on the main sewer line for proper drainage. When backups are limited to just one drain, however, the problem is likely to be confined to that drain.

Regular backups may be a symptom of damaged sewer lines. If you experience backups or blockages on a regular basis after your lines have been cleaned, you could have an underlying cause such as tree root invasion, cracks allowing the surrounding soil in, or misaligned pipes. Such problems may be observed through a video evaluation of the pipe.

Sewage Smell

When you can detect sewage gases in or around your house or property, it is a possible indication that somewhere in your drainage system there is a leak. With the exception of vent stacks on your roof, a sanitary sewer should be airtight everywhere, allowing the wastewater to move down. It means you should never smell the scent of sewage unless your sanitary sewer lines have a crack or gap.

Sluggish Drain

A slow drain can be a sign of the development of an obstruction that eventually leads to a buildup of sewage. If your toilet, tub, or sink drains poorly even after attempts to clear the channel, you may have problems such as root invasion, channeling, or cracks described in the passage above.

Note: Be careful using chemical cleaners to fix a sluggish drain. They may erode the cast iron or PVC.

Greener Grass

Spotting an extra green and abundant spot in your lawn can be caused by underground sewage leakage. Since wastewater acts as a fertilizer, leakage from your line into the soil will give extra nutrients to the surrounding grass, contributing to a lush and extra green lawn.

Lawn Dimples

A further indication of a broken sewer line is an indent in or around concrete slabs in your lawn. A broken sewer that pollutes the ground continuously can cause the soil to recede. This could result in your lawn forming a dimple or dip above where your main sewage line is running.

Cracks in Foundation

Sewer leaks cause foundation problems. Some serious sewer pipe failure signs include critical issues such as fractures in your foundation base, foundation settling, and even sinkholes in some cases. If the main line under your slab develops an untreated leak for an extended period of time, a void may develop underneath the foundation as well as in the yard. This can lead to problems with the foundation, such as cracks in your structure, settlement of your house or building, or perhaps even a sinkhole.

Septic Pool

Septic sewage pooling in your yard could be an obvious sign that you may have a broken sewer pipe. The problem could be a faulty septic tank, obstructed drain fields, or a cracked mainline. The problematic area is often located directly below the sewer water.


A rodent problem could be another potential sign of a fracture. Rodents reside in sewer systems and can work their way to the pipes that run behind your walls. An ordinary rat could fit through an opening the size of a quarter through a crack or gap in your sewer.

If you have a persistent rodent problem that pest control tactics can’t seem to solve, try getting a video inspection of your sewer system to see if you have any possible entry points for rodents.


The infestation of a pest can also be a result of a sewer line being compromised. Bugs like cockroaches, palmetto bugs, and sewer flies find it less difficult to get into your home than rats through drainage fractures. The tiny German cockroach can squeeze as thin as a dime into a crack in your pipes, whereas the bigger American cockroach can fit into a gap no bigger than a quarter!

Avoid Sewer Line Damage

When you encounter any of these signs of a broken sewer line, a sewer inspection should be carried out by a qualified professional such as Heil Plumbing. Plumbing systems can malfunction suddenly, causing significant damage to your property. We can diagnose if your sewer line is the root of your problems, and if necessary, repair and even replace your damaged sewer lines.

Why Choose Heil

  • Years In Business
  • Customers Helped
  • Service

The Heil Difference

We’re dedicated to offering the highest quality residential and commercial plumbing services for every customer. Our plumbers are available to respond to your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our residential and commercial plumbers in Columbia and Ellicott City cover every need, from simple fixture repairs to complex drain and sewer problems.

While we are based in Jessup, Maryland, our plumbing contractors also service Catonsville, Columbia, Ellicott City, Odenton, Clarksville, Elkridge, Fulton, Laurel, and Severn.


Eddie Heil

8177 Mission Rd Jessup, MD, 20794, United States

(410) 799-7727

Schedule Service


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