Sewers & Drains

Sacramento’s Sewer Line Experts

Sacramento’s public services, the ones that keep our tree-filled city functioning on a daily basis, are often overlooked, from our public sanitation system to law enforcement, and even the local power utilities. Without these services in place, our happiness and safety would quickly be affected. But what happens when a sewer line needs a repair or replacement on your personal property?
After years of expertly serving the Sacramento area, we know firsthand that a healthy home sewer line is as important to your home’s plumbing as having clean running water. If your sewer system gets clogged or damaged, it can mean rising water bills and backed up pipes. As a homeowner, know the causes and signs of sewer line damage—and when to call the professionals for replacement or repair.

The Causes Behind Damaged Underground Sewer Lines

When it comes to problems with your underground sewage lines, this is the kind of job you want an expert to handle. Below ground piping can be difficult to access and nearly impossible to fix without the proper tools and know-how. Our sewer systems can experience trauma or wear and tear for a number of reasons, including the common ones listed below.

Common Sewer System Issues

BROKEN OR CRACKED PIPING

This can happen when there’s a shift in the soil either from natural occurrences like settling dirt or winter freezes, or from vibrations caused by equipment, vehicles, and even the occasional earthquake. And Northern California is prone to all of these events. No matter what the reason, broken or cracked piping should be quickly repaired before your water bill starts to skyrocket.

BLOCKED PIPING

If you have small children who like to flush things down the potty, you might already have experience with this one. But, it can also be the result of a buildup of residue that slowly begins to restrict the flow of water over time, and will eventually contribute to pipe corrosion.

CORRODED PIPING

If you live in a home that’s more than sixty years old and still has all its original piping, it will likely experience some pipe corrosion sooner rather than later. Corrosion can lead to cracks—or even breaks—in your sewer piping.

LEAKING PIPE JOINTS

This is often another symptom of time. If your water bills are creeping up, and you live in a historic or older home with aging pipes, this might be the cause.

TREE ROOT DAMAGE

This is another hard to avoid problem we see with sewer line piping, especially since we live in Sacramento, one of the top ten U.S. cities in the country for urban forests. Tree roots are strong and have difficult to predict growth patterns, so it should be no surprise that we often find damaged piping where roots have grown into them.

Common Signs Your Sewer Line Is Broken

How do you know if your piping is damaged when it’s underground and you can’t see it? The only real way to know if you’ve got damaged sewer piping is to have it diagnosed by an expert. The licensed plumbing professionals at Bell Brothers can investigate and diagnose your sewer line issues, eliminating the need for guesswork on your part.

Signs Of Damage To Look For

WATER BUBBLING UP IN FAUCETS OR TUBS

Typically, the best indicator of a broken sewer line is when you turn on one fixture, like a sink faucet, and water bubbles up somewhere else, like the bathtub, indicating that things aren’t flowing the way they should be.

A SLOW DRAINING BATHTUB

A slow drain is an early sign that you might have a backed up sewer line. After trying to unclog it with a household plunger or auger, if you’re still experiencing slow draining in a sink, bathtub, or toilet, it’s likely you’re looking at a blockage.

SEWAGE BACKUP IN TOILET OR BATHTUB

This usually occurs in the lowest open drain and is due to some type of blockage. If by running water down a drain you cause some sort of backup, it’s likely your main line. But, if it’s only happening in one location, like at the kitchen sink for instance, then it’s probably isolated to that specific drain line.

SEWER ODOR AROUND YOUR PROPERTY

If you can smell sewage in or around your home, it’s a good indication that there’s a broken line somewhere. Other than the vent stacks on top of your house, your sewer system should have no open areas to let out gas or odors.

MOLD GROWTH

A broken sewer pipe behind a wall, combined with the right temperatures, can cause enough humidity to grow mold. Sacramento definitely has the right climate for this, so if you’re experiencing new mold growth, along with a sewage smell in your home, you probably have a busted sewer line.

A SUNKEN OR EXTRA GREEN LAWN

If you have a leak in your main sewer line, your lawn soil may become saturated with water or sewage. This can cause a dip in your lawn or can also act as fertilizer, so look out for extra lush green patches of grass.

FOUNDATION CRACKS OR SINKHOLES

In severe cases, the sewer line running under your foundation may be cracked. If it goes undetected for a length of time, a void can develop in the foundation, causing cracks, settling, or even sinkholes.

A RODENT PROBLEM

Oddly enough, the presence of rodents may be a strong indicator of a broken sewer line. Since they often live in the sewer system, they could make their way from the city main to your home’s piping. And if that piping is busted, they might just set up camp in your home.

Repairing and Replacing Your Home’s Sewer Line

If you notice your toilet gurgling, or just not draining, and no amount of plunging is helping, you might be tempted to find the latest online DIY method for sewer line repair. But I’m here to tell you this isn’t the kind of job you want to do yourself. Sewer line repair can be a sensitive and costly service if not done right. Bell Brothers has been serving the Sacramento area for over 20 years. Our licensed plumbers know how to find your sewer line problems and repair or replace them quickly and efficiency, with the least disruption to your everyday life as possible.

Some Methods We Employ

CLOGGED DRAIN REPAIR

Clogs can be minor, but they can also indicate longstanding buildup in your main sewer line. If the clog isn’t easily repaired by plunging, call an expert. If your indoor plumbing has cleanouts, a clog will usually be localized to this area, but older or historic homes, like the ones in Sacramento’s Alkali Flats North neighborhood, don’t have this u-shaped pipe at the bottom of drains, making what might have been an easy job much harder. Our experienced plumbers can alter your old drain pipes, adding a cleanout to avoid local clogs, and perform more invasive diagnosis and repair of clogs that may be further down into your main sewer line.

THE TRENCH METHOD

This requires one of our licensed plumbers to dig around, or trench, the damaged piping. It involves a backhoe to remove the dirt around the piping and, after repair or replacement, to refill the trench. This is a pretty hefty task and always requires the expertise of a licensed plumber.

THE TRENCHLESS METHOD

Bell Brothers uses two different types of trenchless repair: pipe lining or pipe bursting. We believe both are equally effective, offering 10 to 15-year warranties on our work. Many of our Sacramento customers opt for this less invasive method because it doesn’t involve breaking up your lawn. It’s also often more cost effective than traditional trenching methods.

The pipe lining method

This involves pulling or blowing a flexible tube coated with resin through the existing damaged pipe line. It’s then inflated and begins to harden, creating a pipe within a pipe.

The pipe bursting method

With this method, a new pipe is pulled through the old damaged one, simultaneously breaking up the old piping for removal while laying the new one. This method is much less invasive than the trench method, but does require that holes be dug up on either side of the sewer line to remove the old piping.