Sewer line problems can range from minor issues requiring a simple repair to a major issue requiring a more complex repair or even replacement. Because sewer lines are buried underground, it is important to be aware of any warning signs that there is damage to the line. If damage is suspected, it should be checked out as soon as possible as a small problem may lead to a very expensive one very quickly. Unresolved issues may result in illness to those living in the home and possibly cause the home to become unlivable. The following is a list of some of the warning signs of a sewer line problem.

Clogged or Slow Drains

A clog in one drain may occur as the result of too much hair in the drain, for example, which can usually be resolved by cleaning that drain. However, clogs or slow drains that occur in several drains at once often indicate a much larger problem, as all drains lead to the same sewer line. Excessive clogging may result in a burst pipe due to a buildup of water pressure. Also, this could be a symptom of a larger problem such as a tree root intrusion or cracks.

Toilet Backups

One toilet backing up could be due to something being flushed that shouldn’t be, but several toilets having the same issue could be one of the most obvious signs of a mainline problem.

Decreased Water Flow

A noticeable decrease in water flow or pressure from various fixtures in the home may be a sign of a sewer line issue.

High Water Bill

A water bill that seems higher than usual may indicate a water leak. Even the smallest drips from a leak can result in a much more expensive bill.

Warning Signs Of A Sewer Line Problem

Grass Growth Patches or Soggy Areas of Grass

Patchy growth of grass, often along with wet patches, and possibly indentations or bulges in the yard near the area of the sewer line, as well as a foul odor, can be a sign of sewer pipe failure or break, which requires immediate attention.


Rats are attracted to the smell of leaking or otherwise damaged sewer lines, and often they arrive before the sewer problem is detected. Rats and other rodents that live in sewers and can enter your home through cracks in the sewer line as small as 3/4 of an inch. Rats carry many diseases through bites as well as their urine or feces. If pest control cannot rid your home of these rodents, the problem could be related to sewer issues.


Damaged sewer lines may cause damp conditions between walls or in basements resulting in the growth of mold. Mold may or may not be easily visible, but often the first sign is a very unpleasant odor around the area of growth. Presence of mold in homes can lead to allergic reactions, cold-like symptoms, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and neurological problems, just to name a few.


Cockroaches and other insects that suddenly appear to infest a home may be sign of cracked sewer lines. American cockroaches are among the largest roach and can fit through an area as small as the thickness of a quarter.

Foundation Cracks

If cracks appear in the foundation, this may be a sign of severe, ongoing sewer line issues. Leaks in sewer lines may also cause damage and/or cracks in driveways, sidewalks, and patios.

Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.