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Leaky pipes can wreak havoc on your home.When there’s a problem with our electricity, we know it—things just stop working! Unfortunately, we’re not so lucky when it comes to potential plumbing problems. Sure, an overflowing toilet bowl or a slow-draining sink can alert you to a clog, but when it comes to what’s hidden in the walls and beneath the floors, we’re likely to have no idea.

But just because sewer pipes are “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Here are six signs that your home may have leaking sewer pipes.

1.  Running Water Sounds

You’ve checked the faucets, the toilet valves—even the outdoor spigots. Still, there’s that distinct sound of running water… and it’s driving you crazy! First, try taking an exact reading of your water meter. Then, avoid using the water and check it again in a couple hours. If it’s unchanged, the sound you hear is something other than water; if the reading is different, then water is flowing and you likely have a leak in the sewer line.

2.  Damp Floors

If areas of the floor feel moist underfoot and you’re sure that Fido hasn’t just relieved himself there, you’re probably looking at sewer leakage. When you notice these damp spots, don’t just put down a towel and brush it off; if you allow more moisture to build up, then it will cause mold or mildew to grow in your home which can be extremely toxic especially to those with weakened immune systems.

3.  Unpleasant Smells

Foul, funky… whatever you call it, odd odors behind walls or under the floor are often caused by mold and mildew growth due to water damage and pockets of moisture. As with #2 above, it’s best to get to the root of the problem fast; after 48 hours, fungi begins to grow more rapidly.

4.  Lawn and Garden Overgrowth

If you’re seeing lush patches of grass in concentrated areas of your lawn or abnormal growth of other landscaping accompanied by wet spots, there may be pipe leakage which is temporarily providing fertilization. In time, however, hazardous bacteria in the underground waste will eventually devolve into a messy situation, not to mention destroying the lawn and garden.

5.  Cracks in the Walls

You wouldn’t think a leak could cause actual cracks in the foundation of your home, but it can happen over time. Leaking sewer lines may cause the ground beneath to shift ever-so-slightly, resulting in vertical or diagonal cracking that can compromise the integrity of the structure leading to a potentially dangerous situation.

6. High Water Bill

An unexplained spike in your water bill is the most accurate sign of pipe leakage; your bill provides an actual record of your water consumption over time versus random signs that could be due to something other than a leak. Unusual circumstances aside, such as an extra houseguest or filling up the pool for the summer, your water bill should remain fairly consistent, not varying much more than $10-15 per month. A higher-than-usual bill is a good indication of a leaking pipe.

If your Sacramento-area property is experiencing any of these six telltale signs of sewer leakage, you should contact a Sacramento professional as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the pipes break or the fungus spreads—bringing in the experts now can save you a lot of time, money, and headache in the future.

50 Home Plumbing Tips

Topics: Pipe Leaks and Repair, Home Plumbing, Sewers