When your sewer line starts making strange noises or emanates weird odors, then you might be witnessing warning signs that you need a new sewer line. If you do, be sure you deal with this promptly. Your sewer line takes sewage, including human waste, away from your home. If the sewer line backs up or is broken, then the sewage can start backing up into your pipes. Sewer line replacement requires professional expertise and equipment to get in there and identify the problem before fixing things.

Sewer Line Lifespans

The lifespan of a sewer line can be the biggest factor when it comes to whether or not you need to replace yours. Pipes are made of different materials, and the specific materials your sewer line is constructed with will have a different lifespan than others. For instance, if you have clay pipes, then they should last five or six decades. Cast iron sewer lines might last anywhere from 75 years up to a century. If you know when your home was built or these kinds of sewer lines were installed, then you can compute their probable lifespan.

There is some bad news regarding a few kinds of sewer line materials. Many modern sewer lines are constructed using PVC. The upside is that these can last indefinitely, but the downside is that they haven’t been used as sewer lines long enough to know what their actual lifespan is going to be on average. If you have any other kinds of sewer lines made of materials not listed here, then you probably need to consider replacement promptly since they might pose health hazards.

Factors That Influence Sewer Lifespan

The material that your sewer line pipes are made of might be the biggest factor influencing lifespan, but it’s not the only one. The quality of the original sewer line installation project has a tremendous influence. How the local sewer code was where you live at the installation date can also come into play, assuming there even was one.

Physical factors outside of the pipes also matter. Nearby construction can impact your sewer line, whether it’s your own home or adjacent residences. Large shrub roots and tree roots might also infiltrate the sewer line. Trees and plants grow over time, and your sewer line might be impacted by plants that weren’t even there at the time of installation. Natural disasters might result in damage that warrants a replacement sewer line sooner rather than later.

Gurgling Noises

Any plumbing system is going to make gurgling sounds from time to time. Having said that, regular gurgling is usually symptomatic of larger issues, which might include blocked or damaged pipes. If the water can’t drain out of a pipe properly, it starts releasing air pockets that become the gurgling sounds you hear. You might be able to release a small blockage with a plunger, but anything more serious requires a professional inspection. A professional contractor might determine that you have serious blockage due to calcium deposits, grease, or tree roots.

Your Water Bill Spikes

Water use in your home probably fluctuates, but the monthly water bill should be relatively stable. The amount you pay is usually based on your household use over a 30-day period. If you notice your bill is higher than normal, that might be because more water is going through your system. A sewer line leak would mean constant water flow that runs up the meter. Since your sewer line is more than likely underground, you need a specialized plumbing professional to look down there and see what’s going on.

Water Drains Slowly

If your home has hard water, then there might be a buildup of calcium or limescale in the line. These kinds of accumulations usually prove harder to get rid of than grease or food. You might use cleaners or a snake to clear a suspected blockage, but they might not work on issues such as these. If you start noticing a delay in water going down your drain, you might notice it moves slower and slower over time.

Lingering Sewage Smells

How sewage smells outside differs from smelling sewage in your pipes. If you can smell sewage every time you walk out the door, then your sewer line is probably damaged somewhere. That sewage smell is going to stick around until you have the line repaired or replaced.

Are you bothered by smells from the pipes actually inside your home? That’s likely because of a sewage backup. What you’re smelling is probably hydrogen sulfide gas. It doesn’t just smell bad, as it’s actually dangerous to your health and quite toxic in nature. If you have that going on, deal with it as soon as you can, no matter where you smell the sewage.

Toilet Bowl Water Isn’t Level

The water levels in your home’s toilets might fluctuate for many different reasons. For starters, a blocked plumbing air vent might impact the water pressure. That can make toilet water go either up or down. Also, the waste pipe that comes out of your toilet bowl might not have proper positioning. There might even be hair and other material filling the porcelain trap. Depending on your toilet, the water level in the bowl should be 1 or 2 inches below the fill valve. If you have water levels bouncing below or above that line, then you might have a sewer line issue that needs to be addressed by a professional.

Your Yard Is Telling You Something

If you need a sewer line replacement, there might be warning signs in your yard other than noticing a smell when you first walk out of the door. You might notice soggy areas that are consistently wet. These can happen from leaks rising up from your sewer line. If you can rule out other sources of leaks, such as your sprinkler system, outside fixtures, or basement, then contact a plumber to check out your sewer line. If it’s leaking hard enough to rise to the surface of the soil, then you probably have a serious issue going on down there that needs immediate attention.

Another warning sign to watch out for is pests. Any yard will have them at times, but a soggy yard that smells like sewage is going to be a point of attraction for certain animals, insects, bacteria, and bugs. Sewage might be mostly waste to humans, but it also has food that attracts pests. In such situations, you might notice mice, rats, snakes, moths, and flies in your yard in large numbers.

Find the Right Professionals With Us

A sewer line replacement can be complicated, expensive, and cumbersome. Be sure you choose someone reputable in your local area to do the work for you. The right contractor needs to be qualified and experienced in such matters, including knowing whether or not you need permits where you live. If you live in the Portland, OR; Vancouver, WA; or Boise, ID areas, then call us at Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning for sewer line repairs and replacements. Count on us for all your plumbing, drains, heating, cooling, and indoor air quality needs.

Meet the Author
Brandon Bird
Brandon Bird

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