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A sewer pipe break is a headache. There I said it. It causes back-ups into your home and possible sewage flooding in your yard. It is more of a job than a simple clogged drain. Through time, sewer lines are used a lot to flush the obvious disgusting things that go through it. With that time, the ground can press and crush the line or thirsty tree roots invade the line.

Sewer lines break because of many factors: a blockage, a cracked line, or a collapsed line can be the reason your sewage is backed-up in drains or yard. Along with the fact that you have a main sewer line problem. It can cause other problems in and around your home other than backed-up drains, including rat and insect infestation! (Yuck!) Replacing the line can be fixed by a couple of methods but, it cannot be determined exactly until you call a plumber to come to evaluate.

A repair can be done in a timely manner if a plumbing company is called as soon as possible. Make a decision fast because more damage can be done if it is not worked on soon. Damage that involves flooding in the lawn, weird animals on the back porch, drains backing-up through your chimney, and toilets with smelling smells! These are a couple of signs of a broken sewer line:


1. Sewage Back-up

  • If your toilets/sinks are not getting rid of the water or backing up. This could be a sign of a broken sewer line. If only one of the fixtures is causing trouble, it could just be a simple clog. But if the whole house is backing-up, you should call some plumbers! A camera inspection could easily diagnose both a sewer line break and clog.
  • This issue usually brings along a sewer gas smell with it. Be ready and plug your nose!

2. Green and Lushes Grass

  • When sewer lines get damaged, water and waste are taken in by roots of trees and grass! Therefore, making grass long, lushes, green, and fast-growing. If you notice that a big patch of your yard looks greener in one area versus another, this could be a sign of a broken sewer.
  • With that being said, it is possible if it is hot outside for your yard to be more lushes in a more shaded area than another part of your lawn. If that is the reason, it is probably time to water your grass.

3. Sewage Water Pooling in Yard

  • NO! This is not a God-given natural pool from above. This kind of goes with the point above. Along with odors, sewage water can eventually pool in your yard. Hence, why the green and long grass sign happens! This is one disgusting experience!
  • Keep reading and you will find out that this sign will lead to potential visitors!

4. Sewer Gas Odors

  • A broken main sewer line can cause sewer gas odors to leak up back into your home drains as well. This foul smell is not pleasant and would probably make you call some plumbers faster than the other signs above.
  • Do not worry. Sewer gas is not flammable or harmful. It just simply smells like sewage water.

5. Slow Drains

  • What might look like a simple slow drain can be one of the signs of a broken sewer line. It is likely that not only one drain will be slow. If the main sewer is the problem, then all the sewage plumbing is affected in the home and will be slow. Makes sense, right?
  • A slow drain can also be a toilet. If the toilet flush eventually goes down, and all your toilets are doing this, then you may have a clogged sewer line or broken sewer line that is affecting your plumbing.

6. Rodent Problem

  • Yikes, yikes, and yikes. Rats, mice, skunks, and other rodents could follow the smell of your broken sewer line. The even worst part is that if the rodents can dig like a mole, they can crawl through your broken sewer line and into your home or business. Be aware of this sign if you find a rat eating breakfast with you in the morning.
  • Side note: do not try to keep one of these animals as a pet. They can be contaminated with their own diseases and bring you another issue.

7. Insect Infestation

  • The insects (like the rodents) love the smelly smell of sewer. The sewer water smell can alert the insects and alert you if you see a bunch of insects flying around a certain spot on your lawn.
  • Along with calling a plumbing service. You may have to call an exterminator service!

8. Mold & Mildew

  • Spots of mold and mildew on your walls or floors can be a sign or a broken sewer. This is yet another one of those disgusting symptoms! Imagine: Smelly mold & mildew that is caused by waste!
  • Do not wait to get this checked out! Sewer water can cause damage to your home’s drywall & foundation. Too many drains backed-up at one time can cause this as well!

9. Foundation and Wall Cracks

  • If water is making your foundation give way, your home could experience foundation and wall cracks. Cracks put your home in jeopardy of further and more expensive damage!
  • Again, it is probably a good idea for you to work on this sooner rather than later so you can save a penny and a headache.

10. Indentation in Lawn or Under Concrete

  • A symptom of a broken sewer line is an indention in your yard. A continuous cracked sewer line that leaks and makes the ground wet, makes the ground settle differently. Eventually, causing the lawn to dip over where your sewage main line runs.
  • As you can see, your yard can tell on your broken sewer line. So, try to get your problems evaluated!


“At Carter’s, we get calls for possible broken or clogged sewer lines all the time! It can be very stressful I imagine fathoming the work and money that goes into trying to get the problem fixed. But, with that being said, it is very important to get problems like this diagnosed and fixed properly because it could potentially be a health concern!” 


1. Break-Down

  • A break-down of PVC or cast-iron pipe is possible over time because of natural causes. Corrosion happens, the line will crack and collapse underground.
  • Because there is a constant pressure against the line. The lining will probably break way sooner or later because of years of the weight.

2. Tree Roots

  • Tree roots are one of the top causes of sewer line repairs! The roots grow and wrap themselves around the pipe until eventually intruding or breaking the lining of the pipe. It is possible to just repair the lining of the sewer line without the hassle of replacing the whole pipe.
  • A camera inspection usually can be done to check if the sewer line is infested with roots! Click here to see how it is done!

3. Collapsed Drainpipe Under Slab

  • Usually, leak detection will have to happen before this is officially diagnosed. A licensed plumber then will break the slab to access leaks. It is possible for the line to separate just feet of where it comes together under the house. This can reduce the sewer line repair cost a lot!
  • Some plumbing companies can do leak detection themselves. But others may have to reach out to actual leak detection companies to come help find leaks!


A clogged drain is a sign of something going wrong. No. It is not a complete sign of a sewer line problem. But, if all the drains act up, it could be. Slow running drains, toilets that are difficult to flush, and leftover soap lining in the tub can be a signal that a sewer pipe clog is a problem.

Also, another sign that your sewer line has a clog is water drainage coming out of the sewer clean-out in your yard. The sewer cleanout is located outside your home and is covered with a cap. This clean-out connects directly to the line so plumbers can clear clogs in the sewer line easier. Here is an article on how to better find your sewer clean-out.


An average cost to repair a sewer mainline is between $1,000 and $4,500. A broken sewer line is arguably the biggest job plumbers have to deal with on a given day. But, with that being said, working sewer lines are a necessity for a normal life!

A full sewer line replacement from the home to the street ranges from $3,000 to $25,000. You have to factor all the work that goes into replacing a sewer line. There is marking that had to be done, you have to dig, replace the line, and fill the hole back-up again. So, if you experience a broken sewer line, phone up a plumber to at least get a camera down the line to check! Other companies charge by the hour, not by the job. So, call or email around to find a company that best fits your financial needs.

There is some instance where it could be the city’s fault to fix the problem. If your drains back-up due to a sewer line cracks under your neighborhood street, then it is your city’s problem to fix (and their money!) Again, this can be diagnosed by a camera line inspection. But odds are your surrounding neighbors are having similar sewage water troubles.


Sewer pipe will be replaced with a new one at the appropriate size after the hole is dug. Sometimes the sewer line is cast iron (which breaks like glass underneath the ground) or PVC. Replacing just the points where the line was broken is a common practice versus replacing the whole sewer line from the house to the street. If the sewer lining was leaking underneath a slab, then be expecting a jackhammer to enter your home to crack-up the concrete.

After the sewer line is fixed properly with all fittings and is no longer leaking, the hole will be filled in. The traditional licensed plumber will leave all jobs cleaner than how they found it. 


Definitely maybe? It depends! It depends on if you are paying that specific coverage. Some insurance companies cover it but only if the repair is due to actual damage to the pipe. Sometimes it can depend if it was a plumbing mishap by the original work. The answer to this issue is pretty simple: Call or email your insurance provider to see in what instances your insurance covers you if a sewer line has damage.

When the sewer line backs up into your home, or when it is physically damaged from preventable means, insurance will not pay for its repair or replacement.


  1. If you have not noticed, there are a lot of factors in diagnosing your slow drains, backed-up toilets, and other signs.
  2. Ignoring a sewer line problem can make your life hard because of the other possible damage & expenses it can bring! It can also involve health issues down the road if not fixed promptly. So do not wait too long to get it fixed!
  3. Diagnosing if the problem is a block or broken is usually done by a camera inspection.
  4. It is a lot of work to get the main sewer line fixed. From digging, to replacing, to eventually filling the big hole back in.
  5. It is not usually the cheapest job. Be prepared to be quoted a number starting from $1,000 to $5,000.


Do you think you have a broken or clogged sewer line? Do you have many slow drains? Or water pooling in your yard? If you are located in the Indianapolis area and are looking for a sewer liner expert plumber Carter’s can help repair it! We will always give the price before any work begins. Here at Carter’s My Plumber, we are committed to meeting the needs of our customers. We are knowledgeable, friendly, & will always give you a repair cost before any work begins. 

Kelson Carter

Article reviewed by:

Kelson Carter, aka, The Prince of Plumbing

Kelson is a 3rd generation Plumbing Contractor. His family business is located in Greenwood, Indiana, and provides Residential Plumbing Service to the Indianapolis Metro market.

Kelson grew up watching his grandfather and father do plumbing. After graduating high school, Kelson went to Trade School and became a Licensed Master Plumber and Licensed Plumbing Contractor. He is also Certified in Backflow Prevention. He currently owns and operates Carter's My Plumber with his parents.


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