Signs You Might Have a Sewage Problem

Broken Sewage

Few things in life are fouler than a problem with your sewer line. Not only are issues with sewage smelly, but they are also unsanitary. Therefore, you'll want to take care of any issues with your sewer as soon as you sense there's a problem. While proper sewage maintenance can help you avoid many problems, they won't head off all issues.

To protect your home, you'll want to know some of the leading signs you might have a sewage problem. These include:

  • Backups
  • Mold
  • Sewer Gas Smell
  • Slow Drains
  • Foundation Problems
  • Vermin


A blocked sewer line is likely to back up. If you notice water oozing out of a floor drain or bubbling up in a sink, a blockage in your sewer line is the likely culprit. If your sewer is blocked, the water that runs into your drains has to go somewhere, as does any waste you flush down your toilet. Usually, the sewage will start to back up in the lowest drain in your home. If you have a basement, you'll probably have the good fortune of having your sewage back up into a floor drain. On the other hand, if you have no floor drain, your sewer will likely back up into a sink or a toilet and cause an even bigger mess. Tree roots can block sewer lines, so avoid planting trees near them.


Many times, a sewer line will run behind a wall before heading out into the mainline that runs toward the street. A crack in a sewer pipe will lead to moist conditions, and this situation will provide the perfect conditions for mold growth. If you notice mold growing on your walls in the vicinity of where the sewer line runs, it's quite possible that you have a crack in your line.

Sewer Gas Smell

You should not smell sewer gas in your house. Your sewage system should be completely sealed with the exception of the vent stack that emerges from your roof. If you start to smell sewer gas inside your house, you'll want to get it checked out immediately. The gases that are present in your sewer can cause health problems, and they are also quite flammable.

Slow Drains

One slow drain is a sign that you have a blockage in the drain, most likely in the trap. Multiple slow drains that take a long time to empty could be a sign of a problem with your sewer line. Many issues will not lead to an immediate backup. Tree roots or broken pipes can take a while to cause a full-fledged backup. More likely, they will cause slow drains in the beginning. If attempts to clear the sewer line are unsuccessful, it's likely there's a bigger problem afoot.

Foundation Problems

Sewage is largely made up of liquid, and liquid can definitely cause erosion over time. If a crack in your line is big enough, it can start to erode the soil that's under your house. Given enough time, the runoff from your sewer can cause your foundation to crack or lead to a sinkhole in your basement or your yard. If these problems show up unexpectedly, your sewer line is a likely culprit.


Another sign of sewer problems that many people are unaware of is the presence of vermin. Cockroaches live in sewers. Rats and other rodents do as well. If critters are showing up in your house, it could be a sign that you have a crack in your sewer pipes. Vermin can cause disease. Therefore, you'll want to have a professional check out your line if you start to see these unwanted visitors showing up in your house.

Bottom line: Proper maintenance can help you avoid some problems, but if you start to see one or more of these symptoms show up on your property, it's time to get your sewer line inspected. Taking care of problems early will usually cost much less than waiting to fix an issue after it has festered for weeks or months. If you suspect something is wrong with your plumbing system, give Atlas Plumbing a call at (702) 819-7137 or contact us online.