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How to Detect a Sewer Line Leak

Sewer line leaks can cause serious damage to your property if left undetected. They can lead to slow draining sinks, foul odors, and even sewage backups. Knowing how to detect a sewer line leak can help you prevent these issues and save you time, money, and headaches in the long run. In this article, we’ll discuss the signs of a sewer line leak, what causes them, and how to locate and fix them.

Signs of a Sewer Line Leak

The signs of a sewer line leak can vary depending on the severity of the leak. Here are some common signs to look out for:

Foul Odors

One of the most obvious signs of a sewer line leak is a foul odor. If you notice a strong sewage smell inside your home or on your property, it could be a sign of a leak. The smell may be more noticeable in certain areas, such as near drains or in the basement.

Slow Draining Sinks

If your sinks, toilets, or other drains are slow to drain, it could be a sign of a sewer line leak. This is because the leak can cause debris and other materials to build up in your pipes, leading to clogs and slow drainage.

Wet Spots in Your Yard

If you notice wet spots or puddles in your yard, it could be a sign of a sewer line leak. This is because the leaking sewage can saturate the soil and create these wet areas. You may also notice an area of your lawn that is greener or lusher than the rest, which could indicate that sewage is fertilizing the area.

Sewage Backups

If you experience sewage backups in your home, it’s a clear sign of a sewer line leak. This can be a serious health hazard and should be addressed immediately. If you notice sewage backups, call a professional plumber right away.

Causes of Sewer Line Leaks

There are several reasons why sewer line leaks can occur. Here are some of the most common causes:

Tree Roots

Tree roots are one of the leading causes of sewer line leaks. They can grow into your pipes and cause them to crack or break. This can lead to leaks and blockages.


Over time, your pipes can corrode and deteriorate, leading to leaks and other issues. This is especially true if you have older pipes made of cast iron or other materials.

Ground Shifting

If the ground around your sewer line shifts, it can cause the pipes to bend or break. This can lead to leaks and other problems.


Clogs can also cause sewer line leaks. When debris and other materials build up in your pipes, they can cause pressure to build up and lead to leaks and other issues.

How to Locate the Leak

Once you suspect that you have a sewer line leak, the next step is to locate it. Here are some ways to do that:

Check Your Plumbing Fixtures

Start by checking your plumbing fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, and showers. If you notice that they are all slow to drain or have foul odors, it could be a sign of a leak.

Inspect Your Property

Inspect your property for signs of a leak, such as wet spots, greener areas of lawn, or foul odors. You may also notice that your water bill is higher than usual, which could indicate a leak.

Use a Sewer Camera

A sewer camera can be used to locate the leak. This is a small camera that is inserted into your sewer line to give you a visual of the inside of your pipes. This can help you locate the leak and determine the best course of action.

DIY Methods for Detecting and Fixing a Sewer Line Leak

If you’re handy with tools and want to try to fix the leak yourself, here are some DIY methods to consider:

Patching the Leak

If the leak is small, you may be able to patch it yourself using a sealant or epoxy. This is a temporary fix and may not work for larger leaks.

Cutting Out the Damaged Pipe

Another DIY option is to cut out the damaged section of pipe and replace it with a new one. This is a more involved process and may require specialized tools and equipment.

Using a Drain Snake

If the leak is caused by a clog, you can try using a drain snake to remove the blockage. This is a simple and effective way to clear clogs and restore proper drainage.

When to Call a Professional Plumber

While DIY methods can be effective, there are times when it’s best to leave the job to a professional plumber. Here are some situations when you should call in the experts:

Large Leaks

If the leak is large or the damage is extensive, it’s best to call in a professional plumber. They have the experience and equipment needed to handle these types of repairs.

Multiple Leaks

If you have multiple leaks or other issues, it’s best to call in a professional plumber. They can assess the situation and recommend the best course of action.

Health Hazards

If you have sewage backups or other health hazards, it’s important to call in a professional plumber right away. They can address the issue and ensure that your home is safe and healthy.

Sewer Line Repair Options

If you do need to call in a professional plumber, there are several repair options to consider:

Pipe Lining

Pipe lining is a process where a new lining is installed inside your existing pipes. This can be a cost-effective and efficient way to repair leaks and extend the life of your pipes.

Pipe Bursting

Pipe bursting is a process where a new pipe is pulled through your existing pipe, causing the old pipe to burst and creating a new, seamless pipe. This can be a good option for replacing damaged or deteriorating pipes.


Excavation is the most invasive repair option, but it may be necessary in some cases. This involves digging up your yard to access the damaged pipes and replace them with new ones.

Preventing Future Sewer Line Leaks

To prevent future sewer line leaks, there are several things you can do:

Avoid Flushing Non-Biodegradable Items

Make sure to only flush toilet paper and other biodegradable items down your toilet. Avoid flushing things like wipes, feminine hygiene products, and other non-biodegradable items.

Keep Trees Away from Your Sewer Line

If you have trees near your sewer line, make sure to keep them trimmed and away from your pipes. This can help prevent tree roots from growing into your pipes and causing damage.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance can help prevent sewer line leaks and other plumbing issues. Make sure to have your pipes inspected and cleaned on a regular basis to ensure that they are in good condition.

Cost of Fixing a Sewer Line Leak

The cost of fixing a sewer line leak can vary depending on the severity of the leak and the repair method used. DIY methods can be relatively inexpensive, but larger repairs may cost several thousand dollars. It’s important to get a quote from a professional plumber before starting any repairs.


Sewer line leaks can be a serious problem, but knowing how to detect and fix them can help you prevent further damage to your property. By keeping an eye out for the signs of a leak, locating the problem, and calling in a professional plumber when necessary, you can keep your plumbing system in good condition and avoid costly repairs in the future. Remember to take preventative measures, such as regular maintenance and avoiding flushing non-biodegradable items, to keep your sewer line in good condition and prevent leaks from occurring.

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We are a full-service plumbing company; no problem will ever be too big or too small. This means that whether you are experiencing clogged drains, a malfunctioning water heater or you want to replace your entire sewer line, we have you covered. We will be by your side throughout the life of your plumbing system, so from installation and repairs or replacement and maintenance, we’ll get the job done quickly and efficiently. And because we know that plumbing issues can occur at any time, our team will be on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to tackle any emergencies. Give us a call at 815-605-4640 or contact us online to schedule a reliable plumbing service with our plumbers in University Park, IL and surrounding areas.
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