Household water leaks are to blame for nearly 1 trillion gallons of wasted water across the country each year. Besides wasting huge amounts of water, leaks can also seriously damage your property, burn a hole in your bank account, and make life a watery hell.
Now, do you wanna know what's even worse than a regular water pipe leak?
A sewage line leak.
Sewage leaks not only put water in places you don't want it, but they are also a serious health hazard. Not to mention that the stink can make a house uninhabitable... If you have a sewage line leak on your hands, then you need to get it sorted out pronto.
In addition, you also need to go about getting it fixed in the right way to minimize damage and the risk of illness.
Read on to find exactly what to do if you are in the middle of a stinky sewage situation.
Diagnose If It's a Sewage Leak
If crap hits the fan, and your sewage system busts a leak—chances are you'll know about it.
But just in case you are in any doubt, let's look at the signs of a leak in your sewer lines.
Odors (AKA Something Smells Bad)
If something stinks, and it ain't the neighbors, then chances are you have a sewer leak going on.
You've Got Critters Dropping By
You would think a sewer line leak could attract flies. But these are not the only creatures that can be drawn in by a leak.
Things like roaches, centipedes, and silverfish are also apt to show up if there is a serious sewer leak. Most moisture-loving insects will be drawn by a sewage leak.
If you notice an onslaught of these guys, for no other clear reason, this could well indicate a busted sewer line.
Dips in Your Lawn
If you are lucky and your sewer pipe has sprung a leak along a section is outside, and under a patch of lawn, you may well find that the lawn buckles.
The excess water might even accumulate in damp patches and pools.
Water Damage / Damp Floors
If you are unlucky, and the leak is inside your home, then you might well spot damp patches on your floors and areas of water damage.
Take Safety Precautions
So it's official. You have a sewerage leak.
Get safe as fast as possible. This might sound dramatic, but it is necessary.
What the Risks Are
Sewage water contains a whole contingent of nasty stuff, some of which can be life-threatening.
The most hazardous danger from sewage comes in the form of gases. These can act fast and some of them, such as hydrogen sulfide and methane, can even cause death.
Sewage can also harbor harmful pathogens such as E-coli, salmonella, cholera, and C. botulinum (botulism causing). Exposure to these can cause dangerous infections.
Besides these naturally occurring hazards, sewage can also contain high levels of harmful chemicals. Do you use drain cleaner? If so, guess what. It's still around, it doesn't just break down overnight.
What to Do
Okay, so sewage is toxic, and can even prove deadly in some situations. So what do you need to do to protect yourself and your family?
First off try to establish where the leak is. If it is outside, you might stay in your house, as long as the leak is not too close to your home, and providing that everybody stays away from the area until it is sorted out.
If however, the leak is in the house, then you will need to take extra precautions. Depending on the severity of the leak, you may well need to move out of the house completely while the leak is being fixed.
If there is raw sewage leaking directly into a room or area of the house, then you will want to evacuate everybody and immediately open as many doors and windows as possible to vent any potentially life-threatening gases out of the house.
Once safety is ensured, seek help immediately.
There are a lot of things around the house that one can do yourself, but fixing a bust sewage pipe is not one. Why?
First, depending on where the leak is, it can require a lot of equipment and expertise to get to the pipe and fix the leak. Imagine ripping up tiled floors to tackle a sewage pipe leak that is deep in the structural bowels of your house? Yup, it's not the best idea.
Second, remember all the health hazards that sewage can pose? You don't want to be exposing yourself to these without proper protective gear and training.
It is wise to call in a good plumber as soon as you realize you need a sewer line repair.
Now You Know What to Do If You Get a Sewage Leak
Sewage leaks are no fun. Especially if you don't know what to do. Let's face it, even for the most practical among us—all those fumes make it hard to think!
However now you know exactly how to diag-nose (sniff out?) a sewer leak, and what to do as a homeowner to keep everybody safe and get the leak fixed.
If you are dealing with a leak as we speak, then good luck! It will be over soon, just make sure you call in a pro plumbing team.
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