5 Signs of a Collapsed Sewer Line

Dealing with plumbing issues can be daunting, especially concerning something as critical as a collapsed sewer line. 

At Diamondback Plumbing, we understand the importance of identifying this problem early on to prevent extensive damage and costly repairs. In this blog, we’ll explore the telltale signs of a collapsed sewer line. 

Whether you’re a homeowner, a business owner, or someone interested in learning more about plumbing, this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to spot issues before they escalate.

5 Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Collapsed Sewer Line

Here are five telltale warning signs that you’re dealing with a collapsed sewer line:

Unusual Sounds

When the sewer line is compromised, one of the first indicators can be unusual sounds emanating from your plumbing. This often manifests as a distinct gurgling or bubbling noise from toilets and drains, signaling a disruption in the sewer line’s normal operation.

Foul Odors

A collapsed sewer line can lead to sewer gasses escaping into your home or business. If there’s a pervasive smell of sewage or rotten eggs, it’s a clear sign that the sewer line may be damaged. This poses health risks and affects the overall comfort of your living or working environment.

Slow Drains

A noticeable slowdown in drainage across multiple fixtures can indicate a blockage or damage within the sewer line. If sinks, showers, and toilets are not draining as efficiently as usual, it’s worthwhile to investigate further, as this is a common symptom of a collapsed sewer line.

Changes in Landscape

An unexpected change in the landscape around your property can be a telltale sign of a sewer line issue. This might include unexplained soggy patches in the yard, sinkholes, or visible sewage on the ground. Such changes typically occur when a collapsed sewer line leaks underground, saturating the soil.

Visible Damage

In some cases, the effects of a collapsed sewer line are visually apparent. This could present as cracks in the foundation or walls or an uneven surface on driveways or paths due to the ground settling. Visible damage often indicates that the issue has been ongoing and requires immediate attention to prevent further structural harm.

Causes of Sewer Line Collapses

Several things can cause a sewer line to collapse unexpectedly. Some of the most common causes include the following:

Age and Material Degradation

One of the most common causes of sewer line collapses is the age and the material from which the pipes were originally constructed. Over time, traditional materials like clay or cast iron can deteriorate or rust, especially if they weren’t designed to last indefinitely. This natural wear and tear can lead to weaknesses in the pipe, making it more susceptible to breaking or collapsing.

Tree Root Intrusion

Trees searching for moisture can find their way into sewer line cracks or loose joints, causing significant damage as the roots grow and expand. This intrusion can lead to blockages or, worse, the complete collapse of the sewer pipes. Even roots from trees located a considerable distance can find their way to the sewer lines, creating unforeseen complications.

Corrosion and Buildup

Corrosion is another leading culprit in the deterioration and eventual collapse of sewer lines. Metal pipes are particularly vulnerable to this process, which is exacerbated by chemical reactions between the pipe material and substances found in wastewater. 

Likewise, the buildup of materials inside the pipes, such as grease or other substances, can reduce flow capacity, leading to increased pressure and potential collapse.

Ground Movement

Seismic activity, heavy construction nearby, or even the gradual shifting of soil can all contribute to ground movement that stresses sewer lines. This stress can induce cracks, breaks, or complete collapses, especially in lines not installed with flexibility in mind or weakened over time by other factors.

Repair Solutions

Are you looking for an efficient repair solution for a collapsed sewer line? You may want to consider one of the following methods:

Trenchless Repair Methods

Trenchless sewer repair is a non-invasive solution that minimizes the need for extensive digging. This method involves using specialized equipment to repair or replace the damaged pipe from within. It’s efficient, less disruptive to your property, and often completed more quickly than traditional methods.

Pipe Bursting

Pipe bursting is a specific form of trenchless technology. It involves breaking the damaged sewer pipe and replacing it with a new one. This technique is particularly useful for severely compromised lines and offers a durable, long-term solution without significant excavation.

Traditional Excavation

Traditional excavation may be required for cases where trenchless methods are not feasible. This process involves digging down to the sewer line to access and replace the damaged sections directly. Although more disruptive, it allows for comprehensive inspection and repair of the sewer system.

Choosing a Professional Service

Selecting the right professional plumbing service to address plumbing issues, particularly a collapsed sewer line, necessitates careful consideration of credentials and capabilities. It’s imperative to choose a company that not only understands the intricacies of the problem but also possesses the necessary qualifications to resolve it effectively.

Credentials to Look For

When vetting potential plumbing services, prioritize those that are licensed, bonded, and insured. A license showcases that the company meets certain standards and regulations, offering peace of mind regarding its competency. 

Being bonded ensures you are financially protected if the job isn’t completed as agreed. On the other hand, insurance covers any injuries or damages that might occur during the project. 

It’s also beneficial to consider companies that are affiliated with professional organizations, as these memberships often indicate a commitment to adhering to industry best practices.

Questions to Ask

Before committing to a service, arm yourself with information by asking pertinent questions such as:

  • Are your technicians licensed and certified?
  • Do you have experience with trenchless sewer repair methods?
  • Can you provide references from past commercial plumbing projects similar to mine?
  • What warranties or guarantees do you offer on your work?
  • How do you handle project estimates and billing?

These inquiries will help you gauge the company’s experience, reliability, and customer service approach.

Emergency Services

Sewer line issues can escalate quickly, transforming from minor inconveniences to major emergencies without warning. Therefore, it’s crucial to ascertain whether the plumbing service offers emergency services around the clock. 

Knowing that you can count on immediate assistance, regardless of when a problem arises, can offer invaluable peace of mind. Ask about their response times for emergencies and whether there are any additional charges for such calls.

Selecting a professional service equipped with the right credentials, a proven track record, and reliable emergency services is essential for effectively addressing and resolving sewer line issues. Making an informed decision will ensure the repair process is as smooth and stress-free as possible.


In conclusion, understanding the various factors that can lead to the collapse of sewer lines and being aware of the repair options available are crucial steps in maintaining a functional and efficient plumbing system. 

Whether it’s the natural deterioration of pipe materials, intrusion by tree roots, corrosion, buildup, or ground movement, addressing these issues promptly can prevent further damage and costly repairs. The choice between trenchless repair methods, pipe bursting, and traditional excavation depends on the specific situation and the extent of the damage. 

By selecting a professional service like Diamondback Plumbing, which boasts a team of licensed, certified technicians experienced in both traditional and trenchless repairs, you can ensure that your plumbing issues are resolved efficiently and effectively. 

Don’t wait for a minor issue to become a major emergency. Contact Diamondback Plumbing today for a consultation and take the first step towards a clean, worry-free sewer water system.

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