How to Find a Sewer Leak


Sewer lines carry the waste water from the house to the city sewer system or the septic system. Over time, older homes with cast-iron and clay pipes can start cracking and cause a leak. Depending on the location of the leak, the leaking sewer pipe can cause damage to the foundation of the house and cause a sewer-system backup. Locating a sewer leak can be difficult, but with the right tools and directions you can locate the leak yourself and save a large amount of money compared to hiring a plumber.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Sewer camera
  • Garden hose
  • Turn on the water in the shower or another faucet in the house. Go to the basement and look at any of the pipes for signs of a water leak. The sewer pipes will usually be black and wide compared to regular water-supply lines which are thinner and usually copper-colored.

  • Remove the screwed-on clean-out cap from the sewer line with a wrench. The clean-out cap will be located near the outside of the home or in the basement. Determine the exact location of the clean-out cap by contacting the local building department and asking for a copy of the house plans.

  • Turn on the sewer camera and push it into the clean-out cap. Push the camera slowly and inspect the pipes. Look for any cracked pipes or plant roots. Plant roots in the pipe indicate that part of the pipe is cracked. Note the location of any cracks by determining how far the sewer camera has gone into the pipe. Push through any obstacles and continue running the sewer camera until you reach the system sewer or the septic tank.

  • Pull out the sewer camera. Clean it by spraying it with a garden hose. Let the sewer camera air-dry before storing it.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your house does not have a basement or the house does not have any leaking pipes in the basement then you must proceed to use the sewer camera. You can rent a sewer camera at most tool rental locations. If you notice any leak from the pipes, then you do not have to use the sewer camera.
  • You can tell when you have reached the sewer system or septic tank because the sewer camera will be in a much bigger pipe or box.

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