Understanding the Causes, Signs, and Solutions to Sewer Problems

All of the plumbing fixtures, drains, and pipes in your home connect to the largest (and most important) piece of plumbing in your entire home: the main sewer line.

Due to improper use of these fixtures, drains and pipes, as well as many other external factors, the main sewer line can become overloaded over time. Ultimately, the main sewer line can become clogged (or even collapse), requiring serious repairs or even replacement. This wear and tear can lead to headaches you don't need!

Knowing the causes of clogged sewer lines and what warning signs to look out for can save you from a major repair or replacement.


Almost every homeowner has faced the unfortunate situation of having a clogged drain or a slowly leaking sink or bathtub. Although a single clog can be painful, it is usually easy to repair.

However, what happens if a backlog forms in all of your home's drains at the same time?

It could be a blockage in the sewer system. Sometimes repair or replacement of an entire sewer line (or even just a section) is necessary when efforts to unclog the pipes do not work. Here are the main indicators that repair or replacement is needed:

Severe Pipe Damage

When sewer lines are broken or ruptured, wastewater cannot flow properly through the system, resulting in immediate and frequent backups. The most common causes of damage to sewer pipes include:

  • Breakage of sewer pipes due to ground shifting, subsidence, increased ground traffic or the use of heavy construction equipment on the surface.
  • Corrosion of an older pipe, causing the pipe to break or collapse.
  • Leaky connections, where the connections between pipe sections are broken, allowing water and wastewater to leak out.

A Sagging Sewer Line

Although it is beyond the homeowner's control, sagging sewer lines can occur over time. This “bulgy” pipe occurs when a section of the pipe has sunk due to ground or ground conditions.

Paper and trash begin to build up at the low point of the pipe, causing repeated blockages.

Tree Root Infiltration

Older sewer pipes were sometimes made from clay or other porous materials. Additionally, the connections between pipe sections were not as tight as current PVC pipes.

As the roots of trees and shrubs grow, they look for sources of water. When they cling to a sewer pipe, they grow along the pipe to get to the water inside. As roots develop over time, the cord may break.

Flushing Debris Down the Toilet

For the health of your plumbing system, it's important to know what you can and can't flush in your toilet.

Treating your toilet like a trash can will cause wastewater disposal problems. The most important rule to remember when flushing a toilet: Make sure only human waste and toilet paper are flushed.

Pouring Grease Down the Drain

Grease, grease and oil are among the main culprits of pipe blockages. It is NEVER a good idea to pour grease, oil, or other grease down the drain.

Always pour hot fat into a coffee pot or pot. Once it has solidified, you can throw it away. There is a misconception that when you pour grease down the drain, hot water will help remove it. That's not the case.

Once the grease cools, it hardens and sticks to your pipes, causing clogged sewer lines. To ensure you never run into problems, learn about things you shouldn't throw in the trash or down the drain.


If you want to identify your sewer line problem before it's too late, we've put together four warning signs to look out for:

Drains or Sewer Line Keeps Clogging

Our advice is to avoid liquid “drain cleaners” and hire a professional to check the clogged drain! If your drain is constantly clogged, especially on the lowest level of your home, it may be due to a break or blockage in your sewer line.

Multiple Fixtures Are Clogged

I'm not sure if the toilet or shower drain is constantly clogged due to a blockage in a single pipe or a problem with the sewer line. However, a very obvious sign of a sewer line problem is when multiple plumbing fixtures clog at the same time.

Bubbling/Gurgling From the Toilets and Bathtubs

If you suspect a sewer clog, the next thing to look out for is any unexpected or unusual reactions when using plumbing fixtures. There may be a problem if:

  • Flushing the toilet causes water to build up in your bathtub or shower.
  • The toilet water begins to bubble. In this case, run water into the sink closest to the toilet for about a minute. If the water continues to bubble (or rise), it's not a coincidence.
  • You hear a gurgling noise when the toilet flushes or the water drains in your bathtub or shower. If you hear this, contact your local plumber.

Your Lawn Starts to Change

A sewer line typically extends from your home, across your lawn, and into the city's sewer system. Go outside and see if you can notice any of these changes in your lawn:

  • If your sewer line is broken, you will see an imprint on your lawn.
  • If you find a patch of wet grass even though it hasn't rained or snowed recently, it could be wastewater from a broken sewer pipe.


Although some drain cleaning and maintenance work can be safely performed by a homeowner, sewer line repair and replacement work should always be performed by a certified professional plumber.

Video Inspection

By using an online video inspection camera, you can see where the problem is and benefit from faster, more cost-effective repairs. This is how it works:

  • The images captured by the camera are transmitted to a device operated by the camera technician. These images are saved for further review.
  • At the same time, a radio transmitter on the camera detects the physical location of the line and its depth from the surface so that appropriate repairs can be properly planned and carried out.

Once it is determined - and you agree - that a sewer line needs to be repaired or replaced, you have several options to choose from.

Traditional Sewer Line Repair or Replacement

Traditional sewer line repairs or replacements are typically performed using an excavator to excavate the area around the line, allowing easy access to the problem area. Once the repair is complete, the excavator will be used to fill the area.

This option may sometimes be the only option depending on the condition of your pipes, their configuration, or where you live.

Trenchless Sewer Line Repair Methods

Trenchless repair involves making small access holes at the beginning and end of the damaged pipe. A new pipe is then pulled through the existing pipe, causing the old pipe to burst into pieces and a new pipe to be laid at the same time.

Trenchless repairs cause less damage to yards and driveways than traditional repair methods because they only stir up dirt at the beginning and end of the route.


Whichever option you choose, the work must be carried out by an experienced and licensed professional plumber. At Bannister Plumbing & Air, we have been serving Texas with unparalleled plumbing services since 2007 and consider our plumbers to be the best in the business. If you have a sewer or drain problem, we guarantee we can often diagnose and repair it the same day!

For sewer line repair and replacement in Jacksonville, Tyler, Athens or Palestine, TX trust the experts at Bannister Plumbing & Air. Contact us online or call (903) 201-4820 today!