A sewer problem can cause serious stress and anxiety for any homeowner. As the homeowner, you are responsible for your main sewer line. These are the pipes that connect your home to your city’s main sewer line or your septic tank. Learn about the causes and the symptoms of a problem and what to expect if you need a sewer line repair or replacement.

Common Culprits that Cause Sewer Line Damage

Corroded Pipes

Pipes made of steel and cast iron are at a high risk of corroding due to calcium and magnesium build-up from regular wear and tear. Untreated, corroded pipes are prone to leaks and cracks.

Shifting Ground

Freezing, thawing, and other natural causes can trigger a ground shift. This can cause sewer lines to crack and collapse.

Tree Roots

Tree roots follow sources of water as they grow. Roots are naturally attracted to sewer lines since they carry liquid waste. Tree roots wrap around and break into pipes, causing clogging, weakening, and in some cases, a total break. The most susceptible pipes to tree root damage are clay sewer pipes. Clay pipes are typically found in older homes.


Grease, food, hair, and other foreign objects can clog sewer pipes. These items are unable to disintegrate and cause blockages that drain cleaning products can’t fix.

Signs of Sewer Line Damage

Water Damage

One of the first signs of water damage in the home is mold spreading on the walls or floors. This could mean a broken sewer line in the home.

Sewer Odor

Sewer odor in the home could indicate the main sewer line is leaking. If the sewer is broken near the foundation wall, it will seep into the home’s drain tile system (for rainwater), which will cause a sewer odor in the sump pump pit. An odor in the home could also indicate the beginning of a blockage or restriction in the piping.

Flooded or Bad Smelling Yard

If a sewer line is buried close to the surface (2-3 feet below ground), a broken pipe can cause water to seep through the grass, creating a pool. In some instances, sewage gas seeps through the soil before flooding, causing a foul-smelling yard.

Multiple Drains Clogged

Typically, the main sewage line is blocked if multiple drains are clogged. The most common warning sign of a severe blockage is a gurgling noise from toilets. This sound occurs when air gets pushed back up the line because a clog blocks it.


The first step is to diagnose what is causing the issue. It might be as easy as clearing the drain with either a rodding machine or a hydro jetter. A camera inspection is also done once the line is clear to see any cracked pipes or other problems. If there is a defect in your sewer pipes, such as a crack or break, the permanent solution is to replace the piping and prevent further issues.

Sewer Line Repair and Replacement – What to Expect from Capps Plumbing & Sewer
  1. We apply for a permit with your city to doing the job.
  2. Before excavation, we contact JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) to mark underground utility lines.
  3. Once the site is ready for excavation, plywood is laid down to protect the yard as much as possible.
  4. If needed, a portion of the street is blocked off so our crew can complete in-street work safely and efficiently.
  5. We use excavation equipment to dig up the length of the pipe that needs to be replaced. All excavated material is dumped onto the plywood to help protect landscaping. We haul away all concrete and/or asphalt that is dug up.
  6. Brand new PVC pipe is installed.
  7. We call the city to inspect the work.
  8. We backfill the excavated yard material.
  9. We fill the concrete and asphalt holes to grade with new stone.
  10. We will provide estimates for landscape, asphalt, and concrete restoration if requested.

How to Protect Your Sewer Lines

Once a sewer repair or replacement is complete, it’s important to prevent any future damage. Although not all sewer line damage is preventable, there are steps you can take to care of your sewer system:

Annual Inspections and Maintenance

Annual drain cleaning is the best way to maintain sewage lines to avoid slow or clogged drains. Also, during drain clearing, our technician can inspect the sewer lines to identify any problems.

Remove Trees and Bushes Away from the Sewer Line

The proximity of trees and bushes to the sewer line can make maintenance difficult.

Avoid Clogs

Do not flush wipes or other hygiene products down the toilet. You should never pour grease down the kitchen drain. Only soft foods you would give to a baby should go down the kitchen drain and run through the disposal. Avoid using acid-based drain-clearing solutions.

Meet the Author
Capps Plumbing & Sewer, Inc.
Capps Plumbing & Sewer, Inc.

Capps Managers

We remain committed to our core values – honesty, affordability, dependability, capability, and courtesy. As a result, we are invested in the communities we serve and are committed to providing the best customer service.
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