Collapsed Sewer Line: Signs, Causes and Early Detection

Collapsed sewer line

Collapsed Sewer Line: Why Does It Happen and How to Know If You Have It

A collapsed sewer line can be a homeowner’s nightmare, causing a slew of problems that range from inconvenient to downright hazardous. Understanding the cause of this and how to catch it early may help you avoid future problems and expensive repairs.

What Causes a Sewer Line to Collapse?

A sewer line collapse can be a serious and costly issue for homeowners, often requiring immediate attention from sewer repair specialists. Homeowners must be aware of the reasons behind sewage line collapses in order to take preventative action and deal with such issues before they worsen.

Let’s check into the various factors that can lead to a sewer line collapse:

Age and Wear

One of the primary causes of sewer line collapses is simply the age of the infrastructure. Many older homes have sewer lines made from materials like clay, concrete, or cast iron. Over time, these materials can deteriorate due to constant exposure to water, sewage, and soil conditions. As the pipes age, they become more susceptible to cracks and leaks and ultimately collapse.


Corrosion is another significant factor that can weaken sewer lines, especially in areas with acidic soil or water. For instance, cast iron pipes can corrode over time, leading to weakened spots that are prone to collapse.

Tree Roots

Sewer lines can become clogged and damaged by tree roots that enter them in search of nutrients and moisture. The pipes may crack or collapse as a result of the pressure that growing roots can put on them.

Soil Shifting and Settlement

Changes in soil conditions can put stress on underground sewer lines. It can happen due to soil erosion, earthquakes, or human activities such as construction projects. When the soil shifts or settles unevenly, it can cause the sewer pipes to become misaligned or fractured, eventually leading to collapse.

Poor Installation or Quality

In some cases, sewer line collapses can be attributed to poor initial installation or the use of low-quality materials during construction. Improperly joined sections, inadequate support, or subpar materials can weaken the overall integrity of the sewer system, making it more susceptible to failures over time.

Heavy Traffic or Pressure

Areas with heavy vehicular traffic or construction activities above the sewer lines can experience increased pressure on the underground pipes. This additional weight and stress can contribute to structural damage and eventual collapse.

Freezing and Thawing

Sewer pipes may be impacted by freezing and thawing cycles in colder climates. Pipe cracks or fractures may result from the expansion of frozen water within the pipes, which puts strain on the walls. These vulnerabilities may subsequently be made worse by further thawing, which could eventually result in a collapse.

Chemical Damage

Introducing harsh chemicals or corrosive substances into the sewer system can accelerate pipe deterioration. Chemicals like acids, solvents, or specific cleaning agents can eat away at pipe materials, weakening them and increasing the risk of collapse.

Signs of a Collapsed Sewer Line

Detecting a collapsed sewer line can prevent extensive damage to your property and plumbing system. Here are some common collapsed sewer line symptoms:

Slow Drains

If multiple drains in your home are slow or consistently clogged, it could indicate a blockage or collapse in the sewer line.

Foul Odors

Sewer gas smells emanating from drains, or the yard could indicate a leak or break in the sewer line.

Soggy Yard

Areas of your yard that are constantly wet or have lush, green patches, especially when it hasn’t rained recently, may indicate a sewage leak.

Backups and Gurgling

Water backups in toilets, sinks, or showers, accompanied by gurgling noises, suggest a blockage or collapsed pipe.

Pest Infestations

Rats, insects, or other pests attracted to sewage odors might indicate a leak or break in the sewer line.

How to Confirm if You Have a Collapsed Sewer Line

While the signs mentioned above can be indicators, confirming a collapsed sewer line often requires professional inspection and diagnosis. These may include:

Sewer Camera Inspection

Using a waterproof camera inserted into the sewer line, experts can visually inspect the interior of the pipes for cracks, breaks, or collapses.

Pressure Testing

This method involves pressurizing the sewer line to detect leaks or weak points that may lead to a collapse.

Dye Testing

Injecting non-toxic dye into the plumbing system can help trace leaks or breaks in the sewer line.

Repairing a Collapsed Sewer Line

Once a collapsed sewer line is confirmed, prompt action is crucial to prevent further damage. The location of the collapse and the degree of damage will determine the collapsed sewer line repair strategy.

Sewer Line Repairs

Excavation and Replacement

For severe collapses or extensive damage, excavation of the affected area may be necessary to replace the damaged section of the sewer line.

Pipe Lining

In less severe cases, trenchless pipe lining techniques can be used, where a new liner is inserted into the existing pipe and inflated to create a seamless, durable interior.

Pipe Bursting

Another trenchless method involves bursting the old pipe while simultaneously pulling a new one through, creating a new line without extensive excavation.

Pipe Pros Utah provides comprehensive sewer line services, including inspections using advanced tools like camera inspections, pressure testing, and dye testing. They offer expert repairs such as excavation, pipe lining, and pipe bursting.

Professional Sewer Line Repair and Replacements

Understanding the causes and signs of sewer line collapse is essential for homeowners to effectively address and mitigate potential issues. By being proactive in detecting early warning signs and seeking professional assistance when needed, homeowners can prevent extensive damage and costly repairs. 

Remember, prompt action and regular maintenance are key to maintaining a healthy sewer system and ensuring the safety and integrity of your property. By partnering with experienced plumbers like Pipe Pros Utah, homeowners can address sewer line issues effectively and maintain the integrity of their plumbing systems.

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