Why Is There a Wet, Soggy Spot in My Yard?

Are Heat Pumps Efficient?

We’re heading into spring, which means more sun, more rain, and potential drainage issues. After a heavy rainfall, you might have a waterlogged yard and other water and drainage issues, but what we’re focusing on today is when water starts leaking into your yard from below.

How does that happen? A water leak of course, usually from the water system under the slab. Underground pipes can get penetrated by roots, separate and crack, or collapse under pressure.

4 Common Causes of a Wet, Soggy Lawn or Patch

If you have excess water in your front or backyard, you need to determine the cause:

  • Leak in water line
  • Leak in sprinkler system
  • Leak in septic system
  • Drainage issues

Drainage Issues


If you have drainage issues with your yard, speak with a professional. Since each home is unique, it’s important to find out what exactly is causing the problem.

Even if flooding is minimal, it can still cause a lot of damage to your home and property.

Speak with a professional plumber at Bell Brothers to discuss your different options for preventing flooding and other drainage problems, including backflow prevention valves, sump pumps, and water sensors.

Drainage solutions include:

  • Fixing the gutter system and extend the downspout
  • Regrading the yard to slope toward drains
  • French drain
  • Dry well
  • Sump pump

Septic System Leak

Soggy, wet spots can also indicate a septic problem, so make sure you pump your tank every 3 years to avoid the high cost of replacement in the future. You can normally tell if the sewer line has sprung a leak if there is a bad odor wafting.

Water Leak

Let’s take a closer look at the causes of a leak in your water line, sprinkler or septic system:

Root penetration 

Depending on the layout of your property and amount of trees and vegetation, your water, sewer, or sprinkler system may have become penetrated by a root. You’d be amazed at the power of tree roots.

While slow-moving, they can exert an incredible amount of pressure, especially when the tree is located close to the pipe. Even roots of relatively small diameter can penetrate pipes, and this can lead to water leaching out into your lawn.

Collapsed pipe

Think of how much pressure your underground pipes endure every day and over the years. The weight of that soil may eventually cause your old pipes to give way, especially if erosion and runoff in one place have put an inordinate amount of pressure on your pipes. A collapsed pipe will likely have other consequences as well, including low water pressure or a sewer clog.

How can I tell if I have a water leak?


You can tell if you have a water leak in or around your home by finding the main water meter and looking for the leak detection dial, which will be spinning if there is a leak. The leak detection dial is on the meter face itself, which is found in the meter box, usually located in the ground near the front curb.

If you don’t have a leak detection dial, make sure you turn off all sources of water and then write down the water meter number. Wait around 15 minutes (don’t use any water during this time period) and then write down the new water meter number. If there is a difference in the numbers, you have a water leak. If the number remained the same, you don’t have a water leak. A pressure gauge can also tell you if you have a leak.

What do you do if no water leak is detected? That’s when you should start thinking about excess water that may be coming from rain and runoff. Inspect your gutter and downspout system to make sure water is properly draining away from the home. If you smell something funky in the air, it’s probably a septic leak.

How can I tell if the water leak is coming from the sprinkler system or main water line?


You should have a different green box near your main water meter if you have a sprinkler system. This is a double-check of your sprinkler system. This sprinkler double-check should have ball valves so you can shut them off.

Open up the sprinkler box and turn the ball valves off to cut off water to the sprinkler system.

Next, take another look at your water meter. If the leak detection dial is still turning after you have turned the sprinkler system off, then you know that there is a leak elsewhere in the system.

On the other hand, if you turn the sprinkler system off and the leak detection dial stops moving, you know the water leak is coming from your sprinkler system.

A Soggy Lawn Isn’t the Only Sign You Have Underground Plumbing Damage

Because of all the use your pipes get, repairs are to be expected. But, sometimes it can take weeks or more to even know there your underground pipes have been damaged.

Here are some of the signs to look for when determining underground plumbing leaks:

  1. Low water pressure

If you start to notice your water pressure getting lower and lower (or no water at all), it could mean your water lines are damaged or corroded. Pipe corrosion can happen over time because of the reaction between your pipes’ metal and the ground.

Corroded pipes that are leaking lower the pressure of the water coming into your home. Low water pressure could also mean that you have hard water in your home and the mineral deposits have built up to the point where its restricting your water flow.

  1. Discolored water

Strange smelling or looking water is another sign of pipe corrosion, leakage, or contaminated water. If you notice discolored water, contact a professional plumber right away.

  1. Soggy patches of ground

If you start to notice soggy patches of ground in your yard it could mean that your sewer, sprinkler, or water line is leaking underneath. If you smell sewage, it’s likely your sewer line.

  1. Sink holes and foundation damage

When underground piping has been damaged and goes undetected, your foundation could start settling, cracking, and developing other problems. In most residential cases, sink holes are caused by water main or sewer line breaks and collapses.

  1. Higher water bill

If you start noticing a spike in your water bill for no apparent reason, it could mean that you have a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. Make sure that you haven’t been using any of your appliances more than usual in order to rule out any other possibilities for a leaking pipe.

To check for an otherwise undetectable plumbing leak, follow the instructions above to locate and read your main water meter.

  1. Warm basement floor

If your basement floor has warm patches, you may have a slab leak. This happens when a copper pipe buried inside your cement slab starts to leak. Not only is this wasteful but it can also put your home’s foundation in jeopardy.

  1. Repeated clogs

If you have a weak toilet flush or persistent clogs, this could mean pipe damage, hard water, corrosion, or water pressure problems.

Regular Plumbing Maintenance

Your plumbing system is one of the major aspects of your home’s infrastructure. Not only can plumbing leaks cause extensive damage, but just imagine a day without a working toilet, shower, kitchen sink, or hot water. It doesn’t look pretty.

Obviously, you know how critical a healthy plumbing system is but are you taking the necessary steps to maintain it? Ensure your plumbing system is always functional and efficient with regular maintenance, repairs, and replacements from the plumbing professionals at Bell Brothers.

Wet, soft spots in your lawn almost always indicates an underground plumbing problem. If you notice any soggy spots around your home, contact a professional plumber right away.

Bell Brothers can help you with all of your damaged piping, including trenchless repair (pipe lining or pipe bursting). We provide expert, on-time plumbing maintenance, repair, and replacement to Sacramento, Stockton, and the surrounding Central Valley area.