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How To Tell Your Sewer Pipes Need Fixing

If you’ve ever lived in an older home, you likely have a sewer line that runs through your property. Sewer lines are a necessary part of every household. They help to keep you, your family, and your home safe from the dangers of clogged pipes and overflowing toilets. Over time, these pipes can become clogged with grease and debris. 

According to an extensive study by the Environmental Protection Agency, the average length of a US sewer line is about 20 feet. Every day, millions of gallons of wastewater flow through that pipe, carried by gravity from your home to the city’s treatment plant.

But what happens if there’s a problem with your sewer line? 

When this happens, you’ll find yourself dealing with a blocked toilet or overflowing sink—not to mention the stench that comes with it.

Luckily, sewer line breaks are relatively rare. But when they do happen, they can cause serious damage to your property and possibly even create health hazards for you and your family.

According to a study by the American Society of Home Inspectors, more than one-third of all home plumbing problems are caused by sewer line issues.

In fact, sewer line problems are responsible for more than $20 billion in repair costs each year.

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the ways you can tell if your sewer pipes need fixing and what to do if a pipe breaks.

What Is A Sewer Pipe?

A sewer pipe, also known as a sewer line or sewer main, is a pipe that carries wastewater and sewage from homes, buildings, and other structures to a sewer system or a wastewater treatment facility. It is an essential part of a plumbing system that transports used water, human waste, and other types of wastewater away from the property to a centralized location for proper disposal or treatment.

These pipes are usually buried underground, running from the property’s plumbing system to the point where they connect with the public sewer system or a private septic system. They are designed to provide a gravity-driven flow, allowing wastewater to move downhill or be pumped when necessary.

Sewer pipes play a crucial role in maintaining public health and protecting the environment by safely transporting wastewater away from residential and commercial areas. Proper installation, maintenance, and repair of sewer pipes are essential to prevent backups, leaks, and groundwater or surface water contamination.

Types Of Sewer Pipes

Sewer pipes are a necessity for every home, but they don’t have to be boring!

You can choose from seven types of sewer pipes. Here’s the breakdown of each type:

Clay pipe

Clay pipe, which was the most common type in earlier days. This is made from clay and other natural materials like sand and gravel. It is still used in some areas, but it’s not very strong, so it has been mostly replaced by newer types of pipe.

Concrete pipe

Concrete pipe is made from concrete poured into molds to make rigid pipes with smooth walls. This is a very popular choice because it lasts for a long time but is more expensive than other types of pipe.

PVC pipe

This pipe is made from polyvinyl chloride and can be used in both commercial and residential applications. It is relatively inexpensive, but it has a tendency to crack and break over time.

ABS pipe

Another type of pipe is ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). This pipe is more expensive than PVC, but it does not crack or break as easily and can be utilized for commercial and residential applications.

Cast iron sewer pipe 

This type of pipe was used before the second half of the 19th century. It is made from cast iron and is durable and long-lasting. However, it rusts easily and needs to be replaced when it is cracked or broken. It also has a high thermal conductivity, so it can easily be affected by temperature changes in the surrounding environment. The good news is that cast iron sewer pipes are cheap to install but can be very costly to replace when they need to be fixed or replaced.

Copper pipe

Copper pipes are the most common type of pipe used in residential plumbing systems. Copper is a relatively inexpensive material with high tensile strength but prone to corrosion. Highly corrosive liquids can cause copper pipes to corrode quickly, which could result in clogs or other problems.

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) pipe

HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) pipes are used for drain lines and are made from plastic that is resistant to chemicals and bacteria. HDPE pipes are often used with PVC pipes when building plumbing systems because they can handle higher water pressure than PVC alone.

Signs You Need Sewer Replacement/Repair

Do you have a problem with your home’s sewer system? If so, you’re not alone.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 30% of homes in the United States experience plumbing problems every year. While some of these problems are minor and can be fixed easily, others can cause major damage to your home if left untreated.

Here are some signs that indicate that you need sewer replacement or repair:

Frequent sewer backups

If you’ve had more than one sewer backup in the past year, it’s time to check your pipes. Sewer backups can be caused by tree roots, water main breaks, and other accidents, but a simple clog can also cause them. If you have a clog, it’s best to remove it before it becomes more serious.

Slow drainage

If your sink drains slowly or not at all, that could mean that your pipes are backed up. Try using a plunger in the drain if you think it could be a clog issue—if that doesn’t work, call a sewer drain replacement plumber immediately because you may need to have your sewer replaced entirely if the pipe is too damaged from the inside out.

Leaky faucets

A leaky faucet can mean that there’s an issue with your pipes—but not necessarily in the way you might think! While some leaks are harmless and just require tightening of a few screws (or replacing), others are signs of more serious problems, such as corrosion or leaks within the walls themselves, which need repair immediately before they cause serious damage to your home’s foundation or other structures nearby like trees or buildings adjacent on either side!

Multiple clogged drains

If you have more than one drain that is clogged, it could mean that a different part of the sewer system is being used as a backup. This can cause many problems for your plumbing system, including backups and clogs.

Gurgling sounds

Sometimes when there is an issue with your drain system, it can cause gurgling sounds to come from the pipes. If you hear these sounds coming from your toilet or sink, then this may be a sign that there is something wrong with your sewage lines!

Wet patches in the yard

If you’re seeing wet patches in your yard, it’s likely that your sewer needs repair. The pipe could be damaged or broken, which can lead to clogs and backups.

Sinkholes or sunken areas

Another common sign of a failing sewer line is when there are sinkholes or sunken areas in your yard. These can be caused by tree roots growing into the soil or by the weight of heavy rainwater causing erosion.

Greener grass or lush vegetation

Another sign that your sewer needs to be replaced is greener grass or lush vegetation on your lawn. Sewers are made of clay, which breaks down over time and leaks into the soil. If you have a new home or recently remodeled and did not replace the sewer lines, there is a high chance your yard is being fertilized by sewage.

Rodent infestations

The next sign that your sewer needs to be replaced is rodent infestations. Sewers are also prone to rodent infestations because they’re dark and warm places where rodents can nest. When it comes time to replace your sewer line, consider using green roofing techniques to prevent future rodent infestations from occurring.

Cracks in the foundation

Cracks in the foundation can happen for a number of reasons, but one of them is when water infiltrates through the cracks and into the ground. The water could then seep into your sewer lines and cause them to break down. This will then cause your drains to clog, leading to sewage backups and flooding in your home. If you have noticed any cracks in your foundation or walls, contact a Santa Rosa, CA plumber immediately.

Mold or mildew growth

In addition to cracks in your foundation, mold and mildew growth are other signs that you may need sewer repair or replacement. If you notice any sign of mold or mildew growing where it shouldn’t be, call an expert immediately. This can lead to serious health problems if left untreated – especially if there are children in the house!

Increased pest activity

If you have a problem with pests in your home, it’s likely due to the fact that their food source (sewage) is leaking into your yard. One way to test for this is to place food on a plate and leave it outside overnight. If the plate has a lot of ants on it, there’s probably a leak near your house.

Low water levels in toilets

Sewer lines are typically 6-8 inches underground, which means that water from toilets can easily drain into them if they’re damaged or clogged up by tree roots. This is why it’s important for homeowners in Santa Rosa, CA, to check their toilet water level before doing any other work around the house—you don’t want to waste time fixing something that has nothing wrong with it!

Corrosion or rust on your pipes

If you notice corrosion or rust on your pipes, it’s a sign that your sewer system is aging. As the pipes get older, water can become trapped within them and begin to corrode the metal. This causes rust and, in turn, more corrosion. If you see signs of corrosion on your pipes, it’s time to have a professional check out your sewer system and determine whether or not replacement is needed.

Age of the sewer system

If your house is over 30 years old, it’s likely that your sewer system needs to be replaced. This can often be done in stages, so you don’t have to install an entirely new one right away.

What to Do When Your Sewer Pipes Break?

When your sewer pipes break, it is crucial to take immediate action to prevent further damage and ensure the proper functioning of your plumbing system. Here are the steps you should take:

Shut off the water supply.

The first thing you should do when your sewer pipes break is shut off the water supply. This will prevent flooding, which can cause serious damage to your home. If it’s possible, turn off both the hot and cold valves under your sink. If this isn’t feasible, turn off just the hot valve and leave the cold on so that you can use it for flushing toilets.

Avoid using water fixtures.

Even if you’ve shut off the water supply, it’s still important not to use fixtures, such as sinks or tubs, until after repairs. This will help prevent further damage from occurring due to broken pipes or other issues caused by a lack of drainage.

Contact a professional plumber.

Reach out to a licensed plumber or sewer line specialist who has experience in handling sewer line repairs. They will have the expertise and equipment necessary to assess the situation and provide the appropriate repairs.

Assess the extent of the damage.

Once the plumber arrives, they will evaluate the condition of the broken sewer pipes. They may use video inspection equipment to identify the location and severity of the damage.

Determine repair options.

Depending on the extent of the damage, the plumber will recommend the most suitable repair option. It could involve repairing the damaged section of the pipe, relining the pipe, or replacing the entire sewer line.

Obtain necessary permits.

If sewer line replacement is required, you may need to obtain permits from your local authorities. Your plumber can guide you through this process and assist with obtaining the necessary permits.

Carry out the repairs or replacements.

Once the repair plan is agreed upon and permits (if needed) are obtained, the plumber will proceed with the repairs or sewer line replacement. They will use appropriate tools and techniques to ensure the job is done effectively and efficiently.

Clean and sanitize affected areas.

After the repairs are complete, it’s important to clean and sanitize any areas that may have been exposed to sewage or wastewater. This will help eliminate potential health hazards and odors.

Consider preventive measures.

To avoid future sewer pipe breaks, consider taking preventive measures such as regular inspections, maintenance, and avoiding flushing inappropriate items down the drains.

DIY Vs. Professional Sewer Replacement

When it comes to sewer replacement, you have two options: DIY or professional. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but one is clearly better than the other.

Here’s a comparison chart outlining the key differences between DIY (Do-It-Yourself) sewer replacement and hiring a professional for the job:

CriteriaDIY Sewer ReplacementProfessional Sewer Replacement
Skill and expertiseRequires advanced plumbing knowledge and skillsProfessionals have specialized training and experience in sewer replacement
CostLower cost initiallyHigher costs due to labor and professional services
Equipment and toolsMay require renting or purchasing specialized tools and equipmentProfessionals have access to specialized tools and equipment necessary for the job
TimeTime-consuming, especially for inexperienced individualsMore efficient and quicker completion by professionals
Permits and regulationsResponsible for obtaining necessary permits and complying with local regulationsProfessionals handle permits and ensure compliance with regulations
Quality of workmanshipDepends on the individual’s skills and experienceProfessionals deliver high-quality workmanship and ensure proper installation.
Warranty and guaranteesNo professional warranties or guarantees providedProfessionals may offer warranties on their workmanship and materials used
Risk of errors and damageHigher risk of errors, mistakes, and potential damage to the plumbing system or propertyProfessionals minimize the risk of errors and damage through their expertise and experience.
SafetyDIY work carries risks of injury or exposure to hazardous materialsProfessionals prioritize safety and follow proper safety protocols
Insurance coverageLimited or no insurance coverage for DIY workProfessionals carry insurance, providing protection in case of accidents or damages.


Does homeowners insurance cover broken sewer pipes?

Yes, generally, it does. Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home, including broken pipes and other plumbing issues. If you have any questions about your coverage, talk to your agent.

When did they stop using clay sewer pipes?

Clay sewer pipes were used in the early 1900s, but they were replaced with PVC in the 1970s and 1980s. Clay sewer pipes are still used today, but only in rural areas where there isn’t a lot of development or traffic to cause damage to them.

Who is responsible for sewer pipes on the property?

The owner of the property is typically responsible for maintaining the sewer pipes on the property. However, it’s important for everyone who has access to your sewer system (such as work crews or plumbers) to be aware of these responsibilities so that no one gets hurt or causes damage themselves!

What benefits does a sewer replacement offer?

Sewer replacements offer many benefits. They give you peace of mind knowing that your pipes are in good working order, and they can save time and money if you have a leak or clog that needs to be fixed immediately.

How long does it take to replace a sewer?

It depends on the size and number of pipes being replaced, as well as if there are any existing obstacles that need to be addressed. However, most jobs can be completed in one day or less.

What is the average cost of sewer replacement?

The average cost of sewer replacement varies widely depending on the size of your property, how much work needs to be done, and what kind of materials are being used. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 for a complete sewer replacement job. However, this cost will be higher if you need multiple lines replaced or if the pipes are cracked or broken in some way.

Schedule A Sewer Line Replacement Appointment with Holman Plumbing!

Have you noticed that your sewer line has started to smell?

Whether it’s due to a clog or just a lack of maintenance, it’s time to schedule a new sewer line replacement appointment with Holman Plumbing in Santa Rosa, CA.

At Holman Plumbing, we understand that when your sewer line starts to smell, it’s not just an inconvenience—it’s a sign of bigger problems. That’s why we’ll come out and do our best to solve those problems for you. Whether you need a new sewer line installed or replacement work done on an existing one, we’ll get the job done right.

We’ve been providing quality Sewer Pipes Services in Santa Rosa to homes and businesses for many years now. Our plumbers are experienced, licensed, and skilled, and we keep all of our work up to code.

Our team is experienced in everything from trenchless sewer replacement to complete remodels, so no job is too big or too small. We’re ready and waiting to get started on your project today!

No more worrying about who can come out on a Sunday or how long it will take them to fix your problem—we’ll handle it all for you.

Call us today at (707) 347-8958 to talk to your local plumber in Santa Rosa, CA!

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