How to Identify Leaks in Main Lines and Sewer Lines

April 10th, 2014

How to know the difference and what to do about it

There are classic signs of a pipe bursting and in need of repair, but how do you know if it’s a sewer line or main line? Both are a pain in the neck but here are some ways to tell if it is attributed to a sewer or main line. You will need to know, however, that some of these will overlap.

Sewer Line Leaks:

  • Multiple drains are not working or draining slowly—especially the drains in your basement or bottom floor. It is different if there is only one drain backing up. There may be a blockage just in that drain. But if it is many drains at the same time, this is a sewer line issue.
  • If there is a rotten egg smell coming from those drains too, you can know that it is a sewer line that is backing up.
  • There are fractures in the cement of your home or yard (could be a main line leak too) but if there is a bad smell around the area, this is a sewer line issue.
  • There is a puddle or moisture in the yard that was not previously there. Especially if it stinks around this moisture or puddle, this is a sewer issue.
  • You can hear a gurgling sounds coming from your pipes. This may mean a blockage in the pipe or sewer line, or it could mean poor ventilation for the pipe. A professional plumber can determine the difference.

Main Line Leaks:

  • Fractures in cement of your basement or yard.
  • Your water bill is high for that time of the year. Of course your water bill will increase if you are using more water but if you haven’t, this is an indication that water is escaping out of a line or pipe instead of your tap.
  • If there is a puddle or moisture in your yard, this is an indication of a main line leak. If the water does not smell, it is more likely to be a main line problem.
  • Water hammer (a loud banging sound in the walls) could be a result of a main line leak or burst. It could also be a result of water pressure that is too high, pipes that are not tightly secured, or poor ventilation for the pipes. A professional plumber can let you know which is the source of the water hammer.

There are a few different options when it comes to repairing either sewer lines or main lines. You may have heard of trenchless pipe repair and then the more traditional pipe repair of digging up the pipe. There are different benefits to both. Trenchless is more expensive, but the cost could outweigh the benefits if it is not in an area where there is cement that would need to be torn up. But if there is cement that would need to be pulled up to get the pipe, trenchless could be a cheaper route.

Call us if you believe you may have a main line or sewer line leak. We can run a leak detection test to determine if this is even an issue in your home or if only a cheaper repair is needed.