A Thick, Patchy Lawn and Other Signs You Have a Plumbing Problem

A clogged toilet. A leaky faucet. Puddles of water under your sink. These are all obvious signs that you have a plumbing problem.

But what if your predicament isn’t staring you in the face? There could be other signs in your home that indicate you have a plumbing problem — and if you don’t catch it in time, it can become a costly mess that needs fixing.

Repairing a plumbing problem can cost you anywhere from $600 to a whopping $20,000 Michael GreenVice President of Operations at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.

So check your home for potential water leaks, but shift your focus away from the sink to other areas of your property. Read on for some unexpected signs that there’s a problem with your home’s plumbing system.

Patches of dense, unruly grass

Healthy lawns tend to be even growth and color—but not when you have a plumbing issue.

“Sewer leaks can create areas of dense vegetation that don’t match the rest of the garden,” he says Aaron Mulder, co-owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of San Antonio, TX. “Although it sounds gross, your sewage is high in nutrients that encourage rapid grass and root growth. As a result, plumbers often find root masses living in sewer systems well over 6 feet long.”

Sunken wet patches in the lawn

Backyard pools are nice; sunken wet patches on your lawn are not.

“Groundwater accumulations are common in many areas, especially after a few days of wet weather,” says Mulder. “But if you notice an area that just always seems wet, it might be best to investigate further.”

Your garden smells of sewage

“A smelly yard could be an indication of two major plumbing problems: a leaky sewer pipe or problems with your home septic tank,” Green says.

A leaky sewer pipe occurs when the underground sewer pipes rupture, causing raw sewage from your home to seep into the ground. Not only does it cause foul odors in your garden, but it also causes runoff to back up in your home.

If your home uses a private septic system, Green says the stench could indicate a full tank or a clogged drain field.

“Septic tanks typically use fields with drain lines to suck up liquid waste and return it to the ground near your home,” he says. “Freezing temperatures or blockages from solid waste can cause the drains to clog, causing the tank to overflow with liquid waste and seep into your yard.”

Mike MushinskiPresident of bluefrog Plumbing + Drain says other sewer odors can result from a lack of proper drain siphons or vent pipes, broken seals around toilets, dry traps, or clogged vent pipes.

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Rodents that settle down

Where there is sewage, there are bound to be rodents.

“Drainage systems with cracks and holes in the pipes allow rats to easily get in and feed on water and unsanitary materials,” says Green.

If you constantly hear creaking noises coming from your pipes or notice a change in water flow, it may indicate that a rat has taken up residence in your pipes.

“Mice and rats will literally eat through copper and plastic to get water if they’re desperate enough,” Mulder adds. “Always inspect exposed plumbing for bite or chew marks as this could quickly become a problem.”

Low water pressure

Do you feel like your water pressure is a step above a trickle? A low flow in your shower could indicate a leak somewhere in your household plumbing. Debris in pipes can also block water flow.

“With either problem, you can have a plumber fix it or swap out parts of your plumbing system to solve the problem,” says Green.

An increase in the water bill

If your water bill is unreasonably high, Mushinski says there could be a leak in the drinking water system or the irrigation system. A broken sprinkler head uses more water than working sprinkler heads. Therefore, check that all sprinkler heads are working properly.

“If these seem fine, then a more in-depth analysis of the problem by a licensed technician is warranted,” says Mushinski.

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