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sewer line

The city of Sacramento has more than 75,000 customers receiving wastewater services. Whether you're a homeowner, a prospective buyer, or simply a curious resident, this comprehensive guide is here to help you understand Sacramento's sewer lines.

All About Sewer Lines in Sacramento

Sacramento's sewer lines form an indispensable part of the city's infrastructure, operating behind the scenes to dispose of wastewater from homes, businesses, and industries. 

This extensive system of underground pipes and conduits channels sewage to treatment facilities, where it undergoes purification processes before being safely returned to the environment. 

Maintained by the Sacramento Area Sewer District (SASD), these sewer lines not only protect public health by preventing the contamination of water bodies but also contribute significantly to environmental sustainability.

Sacramento’s Combined Sewer System

Sacramento's Combined Sewer System represents a unique aspect of the city's drainage infrastructure. Unlike many modern cities with separate stormwater and wastewater systems, Sacramento's combined sewer system integrates both stormwater and sanitary sewage into a single network of sewer main drains, pipes, and conduits. 

During dry weather, this system efficiently carries both domestic sewage and industrial wastewater to treatment facilities. However, during heavy rainfall or storms, the system can become overwhelmed. 

To mitigate potential overflows and protect water quality, Sacramento has implemented a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) program that includes storage facilities and diversion structures. This dynamic approach exemplifies the city's commitment to maintaining the integrity of its water resources and safeguarding the environment.

Common Sewer Line Problems

broken pipe

Common sewer line problems can be a source of frustration for homeowners and property owners. These issues can range from minor inconveniences to significant repair projects.


One of the most frequent issues is sewer line clogs. These can occur due to the accumulation of debris, grease, hair, or foreign objects in the pipes. Clogs can lead to slow drains, gurgling sounds, or sewage backups.

Broken Pipes

Aging pipes can develop cracks or fractures due to shifting soil, ground movement, or freezing and thawing. These issues can allow soil or debris to enter the pipe, causing blockages and leaks.

Tree Root Intrusion

Tree roots seeking water and nutrients can infiltrate sewer pipes through small cracks or joints. As they grow, they can cause blockages, cracks, or even complete pipe collapse.

Complete pipe collapse is the most severe consequence of tree root intrusion. When the root mass infiltrates and surrounds the pipe, it can cause structural failure, rendering the sewer line entirely inoperative. This situation often necessitates extensive and costly repair or replacement of the affected section of the sewer line.

Pipe Corrosion

The deterioration and corrosion of sewer pipes made from materials such as cast iron or clay are natural consequences of aging and exposure to the elements. As these pipes age, several factors contribute to their gradual degradation, ultimately leading to a range of issues, such as:

  • Material breakdown
  • Corrosion
  • Leakage
  • Reduced water flow
  • Structural problems

Low Water Pressure

A drop in water pressure throughout the house can indicate a sewer line problem, especially if it's accompanied by gurgling sounds or slow drains.

It's essential to address these issues promptly to prevent more significant problems, such as sewage backups or pipe collapses. Professional plumbing inspections and repairs can help identify the precise location and nature of the problem, allowing for effective and timely solutions, like sectional point repair, to restore proper water pressure and drainage throughout your property.

Sewer Line Collapse

In severe cases, sewer lines can collapse, requiring extensive repairs or replacement. This can happen due to the combined effects of other issues if left untreated. 

Addressing a collapsed sewer line is a substantial undertaking, often requiring extensive excavation and replacement of the damaged section. Repairing a collapsed sewer line can be expensive and cause significant disruption to daily life. 

Signs of Sewer Line Damage

Sewer line damage can lead to a range of issues, and recognizing the signs early is crucial to prevent further damage and costly repairs.

Slow Drains

running faucet

A slowdown in the drainage of multiple fixtures throughout your property is a strong indicator of a potential problem within your sewer line. This issue can manifest in various ways, affecting sinks, showers, bathtubs, and toilets.

Professional plumbing inspection and repair are essential to accurately diagnose the cause of slow drains and to implement effective solutions.

Backups and Overflows

Frequent backups in various drains throughout your home, particularly in toilets, sinks, and bathtub drains, are an unmistakable indication of underlying sewer line issues. These backups occur when there is a blockage or damage in the sewer line that impedes the normal flow of wastewater. Sewage backups are not only inconvenient and unsanitary but can also pose health risks due to potential contamination.

Unpleasant Odors

The presence of sewage odors in or around your home is not just a nuisance; it can signify a potentially serious sewer line issue that requires immediate attention. These foul odors are a result of sewage gases escaping from the sewer system, and they should never be ignored due to their potential health hazards.

Addressing sewage odors involves identifying and rectifying the underlying issue within the sewer system. This often requires professional plumbing services to inspect, diagnose, and repair or replace damaged or blocked sewer lines.

Gurgling Sounds

If you hear gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from your drains when you flush the toilet or run water, it may suggest air is trapped due to a blockage or damage in the sewer line. Ignoring these sounds can lead to more severe issues, such as sewage backups, which can be unsanitary and costly to resolve.

High Water Bills

A sudden increase in your water bills without an apparent increase in water usage can indicate a hidden leak in your sewer line.

Identifying and addressing hidden sewer line leaks is crucial for both conserving water and preventing further damage to your property. If you suspect a hidden leak due to unexplained increases in your water bills, it's essential to seek professional plumbing services.

How Sewer Lines Are Maintained

The maintenance of sewer lines is vital to keeping your property functioning smoothly. Regular pipe inspections, proactive measures to prevent blockages, and prompt response to signs of damage are great ways to avoid expensive repairs and property damage. Professional plumbing services play a crucial role in maintaining sewer lines, ensuring that they continue to operate efficiently and reliably.

At Express Sewer & Drain, we offer plumbing services throughout Sacramento County, including routine inspections and maintenance. Contact us today to learn more!

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Topics: Plumbing in Sacramento, Sewers