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Sewer line issues: Here are the signs of a cracked or clogged line

Okay, let’s be honest: your sewer line is probably one of those things in your home that you don’t really think much about… until something goes wrong. But, what does something going “wrong” even entail with a sewer line? What do you even look for?

In this blog post, we’ll break down both the causes of sewer line woes and the signs you need to look out for to indicate that you need plumbing repair.

If your home has a sewer line clog, our plumbers can clear out the line using an auger, like the one pictured here.

If your home has a sewer line clog, our plumbers can clear out the line using an auger, like the one pictured here.

If you suspect that your Bay Area home has sewer line issues, contact our team here at ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing. We offer emergency line inspection and repair services in Hayward and beyond. To get started, give us a call at (510) 471-8181 or contact us online.

Causes of sewer line issues

Here are three of the most common causes of sewer line problems:

  1. Your sewer line can clog if the line is obstructed by what’s popularly known as a “grease-berg”. This is a collection of grease, oils, fats, and other material—typically poured down the kitchen sink—that collects in a physical mass, until it eventually clogs the entire 6-inch line. (Read: Here’s an example of what this looks like on a larger scale!)
  2. Your sewer line can also clog if obstructed by trash. This is why it’s not recommended that you throw anything that isn’t biodegradable down the kitchen sink or toilet. We’ve seen q-tips form the basis for a major clog!
  3. Your sewer line can crack if a tree root—searching for water—breaks into the pipe and begins to fill it. More on this in a minute!

To learn even more about the common causes of sewer line clogs—and how you can potentially prevent a clog from forming—check out this blog from our team.

4 Signs Of Sewer Line Problems

Here are the four big signs of sewer line troubles:

Simultaneous drain clogging

Think of your home’s plumbing like a river that is fed by multiple smaller streams. If you were to dam one of those creeks, it might not impact the larger river all that much, and the river would continue to flow downstream.

Pictured: Sewer Line Repair

This is what removing and repairing a ceramic sewer line looks like.

However, if you dammed the large river, the water from the entire system would have nowhere to go, and would start to rise above the banks. What’s more, that water would get pushed back into the creeks, and they’d flood, too.

A single clogged sink or kitchen drain is like the stream in the analogy. You might need our drain cleaning services, but it probably doesn’t mean you have a sewer line clog.

A sewer line clog or blockage is the damming of the river, in that your entire home’s plumbing is going to backup. If the line clogs, all of the drains in your home will clog simultaneously. That’s when you need to drop everything and give us a call for emergency plumbing repair.

Wet ground above the line

A cracked sewer line that leaks can be a major problem. Before we get started, think about the answers to the following:

  • When was your home built? If your home was built in the 1980s or later, it likely has a PVC sewer line. PVC can crack or collapse when put under pressure (more on that in a second), but with no outside duress, it should last for the lifetime of the home. Older materials—such as cast-iron or clay—are durable, but don’t have quite the lifespan of PVC.
  • Where does your line run? Find your sewer cleanout lines and determine where the sewer line runs from your home to the municipal sewer. For many homes, the line runs to the street.
  • What’s above the line? Now that you know where the line runs, what’s above it? Take note of any trees, bushes, or other yard foliage.

Trace the sewer line’s location and look for any abnormal “wet” spots on the ground, when there has been no rain and there’s no irrigation for water to pool there. If it’s right above the line, this may be a sign that your sewer line has a leak.

Trees or bushes above the line

If there’s a tree or bush right above or near the line, you should be extra wary. Over time, tree roots dig deep in search of water. Roots can destroy or block sewer lines even without a leak, but a sewer leak acts as a positive feedback loop for the tree. As they find water, the roots snarl around the line, breaking into it.

Tree roots are a common cause of sewer line clogs here in the Bay Area. Even a tree that’s feet away from the line can have roots that find their way to it.

Sewer odors outside and inside

If you step outside and your yard smells like a garbage heap, that’s a pretty good sign that something is wrong. A cracked line will emit sewer gases, which smell about as great as you might assume.

Sewer smells inside the home could indicate the same problem, or they could indicate that the sewer trap plugs aren’t doing their job. Either way, we recommend giving us a call. We’ll diagnose whether you need your traps fixed, or if the issue is more serious.

Schedule a sewer inspection

All of the signs above are good indicators that something is wrong with your sewer line. However, the only way to be 100% sure that’s there a blockage—and to know what exactly is causing it—is to schedule a sewer line inspection from our team here at ABC.

The best way to see a clog is to, well, actually see it. We have specialized cameras that we place on lines to go into the line and identify the problem before digging things up. Depending on the type of clog, there may be a way to clear it without opening up the line.

For service in the Bay Area, turn to the experts at ABC

At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we know our way around sewer lines and the problems homeowners face. Our experienced, expert plumbers are plumbing repair experts, and we offer emergency service in much of the Bay Area, including Hayward and the East Bay.

If you need emergency service or you need a sewer camera inspection, give us a call at (510) 471-8181 or contact us online.

Make the switch to a new demand-type water heater

If you are considering a water heater replacement, you should think about the numerous demand-type water heater advantages you can benefit from. If you are not considering a replacement, perhaps you should be.

In this blog, we’ll run through the advantages of switching to a new tankless system. To get started, contact our team.

Is it time to replace your old water heater?

How can you know if you need to replace your water heater? Here are some important indicators:

  • Your current water heater is 10 or more years old.
  • Your energy bill has gone up without significantly increased use.
  • Your hot water supply runs out more quickly than it used to.
  • There is visible damage to the water tank, such as a crack.

If any one or more of these things is true for you, a new water heater would be a wise investment in the near future, and ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing is here to help you make the transition.

The advantages of going tankless

If you haven’t already made the switch to a tankless water heater, now is the time to do it. Instead of storing hot water in a tank that must refill itself before use after it is emptied, tankless water heaters provide hot water continuously, heating the water as it flows. You won’t run out of hot water, even when multiple people are using it at once.

Here are some other demand-type water heater advantages for you to consider:

  • Fewer risks to your home – A tank in an old water heater can experience malfunctions or sustain damage that can lead to flooding or other problems in your home. Tankless water heaters have no tank to burst, and don’t endure the massive amounts of water pressure that can lead to issues.
  • Savings on your energy bill – Tankless water heaters are far more energy-efficient, which means you won’t need to spend as much money heating the same amount of water. In fact, you could cut your bill by more than 20 percent!
  • Longer-lasting equipment – Demand-type water heaters have roughly twice the lifespan of a water heater with a tank. They also have many replaceable parts, so repairs are easier and cost less.

Call ABC to learn more about a demand-type water heater

At ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing, we understand your desire to make the best decisions for your home, family, and finances. With our services, we offer fair pricing and full satisfaction to all our customers.

If you’re ready to upgrade your old water heater to a new demand-type system, contact us today for a quote.

Hard water and lime scale: the dangers they pose to your plumbing

Plumbing catastrophes: nobody wants them, but sometimes they’re just kind of a fact of life. From a burst pipe or leaks to no hot water, we’ve all dealt with something like this and it can pretty easily ruin someone’s day.

One thing that can gradually be doing damage to a plumbing system without a homeowner’s knowledge is lime scale and mineral buildup. Having a water softener installed by ABC Cooling, Heating & Plumbing may help to minimize harm that could be done to your home’s plumbing and appliances.

Pictured: Sink drain with some rust and lime scale deposits.Hard water basics

Hard water is water that contains an elevated concentration of mineral salts like calcium and magnesium, which are dissolved. It is a relatively slow but sure process, and over time these minerals build up inside pipes and drains as what we call lime scale. It is not something that can be avoided, but it is a challenge that must be addressed.

Hints of hard water issues in your home

It can be exceedingly difficult to detect hard water damage. Luckily, there are some helpful clues that can signify a lime scale problem:

  • Increase in the amount of soap scum in tub or washing machine
  • Dripping facets
  • Decrease in the availability of hot water

When hard water is causing damage to your pipes, it also decreases the efficiency at which your appliances are running, so an increased amount of soap scum in your washer or bathtub can be a sign of hard water problems, and so can difficulty getting hot water.

If there are facets in your house that don’t turn off all the way, this can sometimes mean that it’s trying to compensate for lime scale buildup. That is to say, don’t ignore these discrepancies; it is probably a good idea to have them checked out and consider having a water softener installed.

A reputable company for your plumbing needs

If you’re seeing signs of hard water problems in your house, then call ABC Cooling, Heating and Plumbing today at 510-471-8181. We will be able to promptly send dependable professionals to install a water softener to protect your pipes from lime scale.

In fact, you can trust us to handle all your plumbing repairs with proper care and expertise, because we will go above and beyond what a regular plumber could accomplish.