A plumber can’t use a sewer camera inspection to find out if your sewer system has any leaks. If a plumber tells you otherwise, he or she is not being honest.
An under-slab sewer leak test is what you need if you think your sewer line is leaking. This could also be called a hydrostatic sewer leak test.
20 Sure Signs of Sewer Line Leak In Yard
When water keeps running, it means there is a problem in the sewer line. Check the toilet and make sure the faucets are turned off. If you still hear water trickling in the walls or ceiling, it could be because there are leaks in the sewer pipes.
If the floor feels soft or wet when you walk on it, this could be a sign of a sewer leak. Your plumbing system has connections all over the house that lead to the main sewer line. As water leaks from these connections and pools around them, it damages and discolors the flooring inside. A damp spot on the carpet could also mean that water is coming up from a sewer leak that is hidden.
Mold and mildew that grow in damp places often cause unpleasant smells behind walls. When sewer lines leak, they make it easy for bacteria to grow near indoor drains. You might also smell the wastewater that gets into the yard through broken pipes.
Your house has cracks
Leaking sewer lines can cause the ground around your home to shift, which can cause cracks in the foundation. As water pools in places where there are leaks, it soaks the soil and weakens the structure of your foundation. Sewer leaks can also cause sidewalks, driveways, and patios made of concrete to buckle.
Changes in the scenery
Wet, sunken spots in the yard are often a sign that a sewer pipe has broken. This is because the wet spots are where water collects. Leaks make the grass look green and lush all of a sudden in places where there are a lot of them, but unhealthy bacteria in underground wastewater destroy lawns and gardens in the long run.
Rats are drawn to the smell of a leaking sewer line, and because they have a good sense of smell, they are there before you even notice there is a problem. Even though you don’t want rodents in your backyard, seeing them all of a sudden is often a sign that your sewer pipes are leaking.
The water bill goes up
As we’ve already said, a sudden jump in your water bill is often a clear sign that you have a leak somewhere. It’s normal for prices to change a little bit from season to season, but watch out for big jumps.
The water meter won’t stop
When all the faucets and appliances in your home are turned off, the water meter should be at zero, right? Well, if the needle on your water meter keeps moving, this could be a sign that there is a sewer leak.
There’s too much water outside
It’s normal for a puddle or two to form after it rains, but if you see a puddle when it hasn’t rained, it could be a sign of a sewer leak or a problem with your drains. Also, keep an eye out for a sudden change in height, which could also mean that a sewer pipe has collapsed.
Walls that aren’t white
If a slow leak is hidden behind a wall, it may not be found for months. But wet spots, dark rings, or a change in color could be signs of a leak. Another sign of a sewer leak could be paint that is peeling or bubbling or wallpaper that has become uneven. This could also be a sign of a sewer pipe leak that isn’t obvious.
The water pressure falls
If you notice a big drop in water pressure while you’re taking a shower or doing the dishes, it might have something to do with the water supply from the city and not necessarily a leak. But if the water pressure is low everywhere and it takes longer than usual for the water to drain, you might have a leak in your mainline that you don’t know about.
Your pipes are old-looking
A simple inspection of your home’s pipes is one of the best ways to find hidden problems. (Checking these pipes on a regular basis can help you find a small problem before it gets worse!) Sewer leaks can be found by taking a quick look under the sink or at pipes that are out of sight. Condensation is another sign that something might be wrong that might be hidden.
Drainage is Slow
As you know, a clog can make a drain move slowly sometimes. Things like hair and food can easily get stuck in the drains of our showers and kitchen sinks. But if every drain is slow and almost clogged, there could be a bigger problem.
The color of water changes
The water coming out of your faucet should be clear, but if you have hidden leaks, it might not be. When water that was clear turning brown, yellow, or green, you might be able to see where a leak is. Even though colored water isn’t always a sign of a sewage problem, it can be a sign of a leaking pipe or rust in your plumbing system as a whole.
ALSO SEE: How To Bridge Over A Sewer Pipe
How To Fix A Leaking Sewer Pipe by Performing an Under Slab Sewer Leak Test
Sewer systems are made to work with gravity, which means that all of the pipes are put in at a slight downward angle. So, any water in the sewer pipes flows out of the house and downhill to the main sewer line, which is connected to the city’s system or a septic tank.
To check for leaks, we connect an air hose to an inflatable rubber test ball and put it into the sewer pipe at the main line cleanout. Once it is in place around your home, we will blow up the ball to block the sewer line so that no water can get through.
Then, we go inside the house and pull the toilet off the floor, which shows the floor flange, unless you have a stand-up shower. In that case, we can use the shower like a floor flange to watch.
Then, we turn on a faucet in the house to fill the sewer system up to slab level with the water, and we watch the water level at the floor flange for about 20 minutes.
We pull the toilet up and expose the floor flange so we can look at it from the slab level. Then we can see if the water level goes down or stays the same.
Reasons Other Than a Leak
If the water level goes down, it could be because there is a leak. But first, we want to get rid of any other situations where a drop could happen. We call these “human error situations.”
We go back to the test ball and make sure no water is getting by it. Depending on your system, the plumber can just look down the pipe to see if water is running through.
But if we can’t see down the drain, we can use a sewer camera to help. We send a sewer camera down the pipe to the test ball to make sure it’s sealing properly and no water is getting past it.
If there is no water moving past the test ball, we also want to rule out air pockets as a possible cause. We run the water again to bring it back to slab level and watch for drops to make sure they aren’t caused by air bubbles or pockets.
If the water level keeps going down after we’ve ruled out all the other possibilities, we know you have at least one leak under the slab.
What to look out for with other Plumbing Companies
When you call a plumbing company, watch out if they do any of the following:
To check for leaks, they use a water hose to fill up your sewer system from the outside. Don’t forget that your sewer works because of gravity. So they are trying to move water uphill. We’ve tried this before and found that it’s not a good way to find leaks. After we filled the sewer pipes from the outside, we ran a sewer camera through the pipes and saw that most of the pipes had no water in them at all.
They don’t look at the water level inside your house, but instead from the outside. If a plumber says you have a leak but has never been inside your house, that plumber has no way of knowing if you do or not.
If you have a sunken tub, bar sink, toilet, etc., and water overflows, they use this as “proof” that there is a problem and suggest fixing it.
They use a sewer camera to figure out if you have any leaks and to find them.
They try to scare you into getting the repairs done as soon as possible.
If any of the above has happened to you or if something else just doesn’t seem right, give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk with you about your questions or concerns. We also have a guide on how to find a reliable plumbing company to make sure your problem is fixed right.
Sewer Line Leak Repair Cost
The average cost for a homeowner to fix a sewer line is $2,556. Depending on the damage, you can expect to pay between $1,073 and $4,054. When people get a full replacement, they spend between $3,000 and $25,000.
What Does A Sewage Leak Look Like?
Are Broken Sewer Line Covered By Insurance?
Whether or not your homeowners’ insurance will pay for damage to the sewer lines under your house depends on what caused the damage. Most of the time, damage to sewer lines won’t be covered. In certain situations, like an explosion or vandalism, homeowners insurance can cover damage to sewer lines under and inside your home that was caused by a covered loss.
Note that damaged pipes will only be covered if they are on your property. Pipes that go past your property line are the responsibility of the person or business that owns that part of the pipe.