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Sewer Leaks Early Detection and How to Fix It Guide

Sewer leaks are a common problem that many homeowners face. They can cause serious property damage and be costly to repair if not caught early on. 

Detecting and fixing sewer leaks early can save you from a world of inconvenience, including potential health risks and costly repairs. 

In this guide, we will discuss how you can detect sewer leaks in your home and what steps you can take to fix them.

How To Find A Sewer Leak Underground? 

How to Find a Sewer Leak Underground

Finding a sewer leak underground can be challenging, as it is not always visible on the surface. However, there are a few steps you can take to identify if there is a leak in your sewer line.

  • Check for foul odors: One of the first signs of a sewer leak is a foul odor. If you notice a strong sewage leak smell in your yard or near your home, it could indicate that there is a leak in your sewer line.

  • Look for wet spots or puddles: A leaking sewer line can create wet patches or pools of water in your yard. These areas may also have an unpleasant odor and attract insects and rodents.

  • Monitor your water bill: An unexplained increase in your water bill can also be a sign of a sewer leak. If you notice a sudden spike in your bill, it could mean that there is a leak in your sewer line.

  • Conduct a dye septic tank leak test: A dye test can help you identify if there is a leak in your sewer line. Simply pour food coloring into the toilet and wait for about 30 minutes. If the color appears in your yard, it could indicate that there is a break or crack in your sewer line.

How To Perform An Under Slab Sewer Leak Test? 

Performing an under-slab sewer leak test can help you detect a potential sewer line issue before it becomes a major problem. Before conducting the test, make sure all water sources in your home are turned off, including faucets, toilets, and appliances that use water.

Then locate the main cleanout pipe which is typically located outside near the foundation of your house or in your basement. Use pliers or a wrench to unscrew the cap from the main cleanout pipe.

A testing bladder is a specialized tool that is used to block the flow of water in your sewer line. Insert it into the main cleanout pipe and inflate it until it fills the entire diameter of the pipe.

Once the testing bladder is inflated, monitor the pressure gauge to see if there are any significant changes. If there is a noticeable drop in pressure, it could indicate a leak in your sewer line.

What Causes Sewer Leaks?  

What Causes Sewer Leaks

Sewer leaks can be caused by a variety of factors, including old and deteriorating pipes, tree root intrusion, shifting soil or ground movements, and human error during construction. The material of the pipes can also play a role in their susceptibility to leaks. For example, clay pipes are more prone to cracks and breaks compared to modern PVC pipes.

Additionally, extreme weather conditions such as freezing temperatures or heavy rainfall can put extra pressure on sewer lines and cause them to crack or burst. It is important to regularly inspect your sewer line for any potential issues and address them promptly before they escalate into larger problems.

Signs Of Sewer Leaks

In addition to conducting tests, there are some signs that may indicate a potential leak in your sewer line. These include:

  • Unpleasant Odors: One of the most noticeable signs of a sewer leak is the presence of foul, sewage-like smells emanating from your drains, toilets, or other areas in your house. These odors are hard to miss and indicate that sewer gases are escaping due to a break or defect in the sewer lines.

  • Unusual Sounds: Gurgling or bubbling noises coming from your toilets or sinks can be a sign of a sewer leak. These sounds occur when air is trapped and then released through the water in your drain traps, suggesting a possible breach in the piping.

  • Mold and Mildew Growth: Excessive moisture from a leaking sewer pipe can lead to mold and mildew growth, especially in hidden spaces like behind walls or under floors. If you notice mold flourishing in unusual places where water does not usually accumulate, it could be due to a sewer leak.

  • Slow Drains: While slow drains can be caused by simple blockages, they can also suggest more serious sewer line issues. If multiple drains in your home are draining slowly despite efforts to clear them, there might be a leak or break in the sewer lines impeding the flow.

  • Pools of Septic Waste: The most alarming sign is visible evidence of sewer waste pooling in your yard. If you see wastewater pooling in your lawn or smell sewage outside, it's a strong indication of a sewer line rupture underground.

  • Foundation Cracks and Structural Damage: Over time, leaking sewer lines can erode the ground underneath your home, leading to foundation cracks and significant structural damage. This is a severe consequence of untreated sewer leaks and requires immediate attention.

How To Fix A Sewer Leak? 

How To Fix A Sewer Leak

Fixing a sewer leak involves several steps that require careful handling to ensure the problem is thoroughly resolved without causing further issues. Once the leak has been located, the next step depends on the severity and location of the damage. For minor leaks or damage that is accessible, repairing the specific section of the pipe might be sufficient. 

This could involve patching the pipe or replacing a small segment. For pipes that aren't buried too deep, this can sometimes be done without significant excavation.

In cases where the pipes are severely damaged or degraded, more extensive repairs might be necessary. This could involve excavating the area around the pipe and replacing the broken sections with new piping. This method is more disruptive and costly but is essential for ensuring a long-term solution to the problem.

Additionally, if the leak has compromised the septic system, professional septic tank replacement or installation may be required.

How To Replace The Sewer Line Under The House? 

How To Replace The Sewer Line Under The House

Replacing the sewer line under your house is a complex task that requires careful planning and professional expertise.

Firstly, you will need to locate the main sewer line access point in your house. This is typically located in the basement or crawlspace. Once you have found it, you will need to turn off the water supply and drain any remaining water from the pipes.

Next, you will need to excavate around the existing sewer line. Once the line is exposed, you can begin removing the old line. This may involve cutting through sections of pipe or using a snake to break up any clogs.

After the old line has been removed, you will need to install the new sewer line. This involves carefully fitting and securing each section of pipe together, making sure there are no gaps or leaks. It's crucial to use the correct fittings and materials for optimal performance.

Cracked Sewer Pipe Repair Cost

Cracked Sewer Pipe Repair Cost

The cost of repairing a cracked sewer pipe can vary depending on the severity and location of the damage. On average, homeowners can expect to pay around $800 to $1,500 for this type of repair. However, if the damage is extensive and requires major digging or replacement of large sections of pipe, it could cost up to $10,000.

Factors that can affect the cost include accessibility of the damaged area, depth of the pipes, and materials needed for repair. It's important to consult with a professional plumber to assess the situation and provide an accurate estimate.

How To Prevent Future Sewer Leaks And Cracks? 

How To Prevent Future Sewer Leaks And Cracks

To avoid dealing with costly repairs in the future, there are some preventative measures you can take. Regularly inspecting your sewer lines for any cracks or damage is key. Also, be mindful of what you flush down your drains and low-flow toilets. Certain materials like grease, oil, and large objects can cause clogs and put strain on your pipes.

Another preventative measure is to have your sewer lines cleaned and maintained by a professional plumber every 1-2 years. This will help remove any buildup of debris and prevent potential issues before they become major problems.

In addition, if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions or older homes with outdated piping systems, it may be wise to invest in regular inspections and repairs as needed.


Detecting and preventing sewer leaks is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your home and ensuring a safe environment. By recognizing early signs like foul odors, slow drains, or damp spots, you can take proactive steps to address issues swiftly and avoid costly damages. 

Regular inspections and timely repairs are essential in safeguarding your property from the consequences of sewer leaks, promoting peace of mind and long-term protection.

Concerned about sewer leaks? Reach out to professionals like Barnes Sewer & Septic for expert sewer line inspection and installation services. Contact them at (765) 584-7295 to schedule an inspection and safeguard your home from potential sewer line issues effectively.

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