When Should a Drain Line Be Replaced?

Drains are a critical component of plumbing that we often take for granted, until they stop working. Stating the obvious, drains take the used, dirty water away from the home, and when they don’t work properly, we end up with standing pools of soiled water, filled with food particles, chemicals, dirt, debris, or waste.

Whether these nasty puddles are in your sink, tub, toilet, or floor drain, they’ll attract bacteria and vermin, cause foul odors, and hinder your full use of the drains and faucets in your home.

In some cases, these drain back-ups will be due to a momentary clog, and once that clog is cleared, things will flow as they should. But more serious problems may need to be addressed through a full replacement of the drain system itself.

Call John Stevenson Plumbing to see if your drains need replacing!

Signs That Your Drain Line Needs Replacement

Slow Drains

It may be tempting to think that a slow drain merely has a partial clog that will work itself out. But if the problem persists, it could be a symptom of a bigger issue, usually speaking to some kind of damage to the pipes.

Puddles of Water

Standing water in a place where it doesn’t belong should not be ignored. If you notice puddles or moisture anywhere in your home that you wouldn’t expect, or unexplained pools of water in your yard, you may have a damaged pipe.

Bad Smells

A foul odor is a telltale sign of something gone wrong. An unexpected bad smell, either in the house or around it, will point to moisture and waste in places they don’t belong. You might even notice an unpleasant smell coming from the drain itself.

Unusually Lush Areas in the Yard

If you notice that a particular patch of grass or other plant in your yard is suddenly looking much healthier and greener than surrounding vegetation, there may be a leak in a drain pipe or sewage line. These lucky plants are benefiting from the many fertilizing nutrients coming from your drain line.


More-than-average levels of insects, followed by their predators (i.e., rodents and other vermin) can be a sign of major drain problems. Sewage and still water are particularly alluring to bugs, and once they settle in, mice and rats won’t be far behind.

Constant Drain Problems

Are you still seeing slow drainage or backed up drains after constant repairs or maintenance? This could be a sign of a larger issue with your drain than just the symptoms addressed by previous repairs.

If you’re seeing one or more of the symptoms above
in your home, contact our team to learn more.

Why Do I Have a Slow Drain?

A slow drain is one of the first symptoms of a faulty drain line that homeowners will notice. A good plumber, like the team at John Stevenson, can use their expertise and specialized equipment to diagnose the cause of a backup or slow drain and get your pipes back to working order.

The causes are varied, but common ones include:

Pipe Rupture or Breakage

For a variety of reasons, older or poorly installed pipes can break open, spilling their contents and becoming obstructed with debris in the process. Instead of continuing down the drain line, liquids stop at the breakpoint, flooding the pipe and making for a less efficient flow, causing a backup at the drain.

Partial Clog Attracting More Debris

Small pieces of debris can stick to the inside of a pipe. Gradually, these pieces of debris will snowball until the walls of the pipe are coated in sludge, which can harden and obstruct the pipe.

Tree Root Intrusion

Though they grow and move slowly, tree roots can pack a punch to pipes — either by pushing on a pipe over time, causing a break, or even finding their way inside the pipe and causing an obstruction. Root intrusion is one of the main reasons why drain lines in San Diego need replacement, along with aging infrastructure.

Shift in the Ground Around the Pipes

Whether through erosion, seismic activity, or some other means, the earth surrounding a pipe can move and shift, taking the pipe with it and breaking the drain line’s comparatively rigid shape.

If your drain line has been compromised, John Stevenson Plumbing can assist you in a full drain line replacement in the San Diego area. Our team can perform drain line replacements in a variety of conditions — including underground and under crawl spaces. We use a full arsenal of modern methods such as trenchless sewer lining or relining and pipe bursting techniques.

Call John Stevensons Plumbing today to learn more about how we can assist your home or business with expert plumbing services in San Diego, CA.


What Are the Signs of a Clogged Drain?

Some common signs include:

  • Slow draining in any drain (sink, toilet, shower, tub, etc.)
  • Bubbling when draining, especially in a toilet
  • Unpleasant smells coming from any drain
  • Puddles forming around sinks, toilets, tubs, etc.
How Often Should You Clean Your Drains?

If everything is running normally and smoothly, cleaning out your drains once every year or so is a good rule of thumb for preventive maintenance.

What Is the Difference Between TrenchlessSewer Lining and Pipe Bursting?

Both sewer lining and pipe bursting are methods of fixing an existing but compromised pipe without needing to dig a trench. Sewer lining involves threading a smaller, more flexible sleeve-like tube into an old pipe. This tube is made from a resin-soaked fibrous material. Once the resin cures and hardens, the broken pipe will have a hard inner lining that stops leaks.

Pipe bursting entails forcing a large cylinder through the damaged pipe until the pipe breaks apart. A new section of pipe then slides easily into the space left behind.

Are Liquid Drain Cleaners Safe?

Though they can be extremely effective if used in the correct circumstances, liquid drain cleaners can be dangerous to you and your plumbing. They contain extremely harsh chemicals like lye and hydrochloric acid. If an experienced plumber uses these when the situation warrants it, liquid drain cleaners can dissolve substances like hair, food, or other similar blockages. But if used too often on broken pipes or pipes clogged with things that can’t be quickly dissolved, those harsh chemicals will be sitting behind the clog, eating away at your pipes.

What Should I Do If I Have Roots in My Sewer Line?

If you have tree roots in your sewer line, you can flush some herbicides like rock salt or copper sulfate. This will cause those pipes to become inhospitable environments to plant life. If this doesn’t work, it’s a good idea to have professionals like John Stevenson Plumbing cut them out with specialist equipment.

What Is Hydro Jetting?

Hydro jetting uses high-pressure water jets to blast through blockages in your pipes. Similar to a pressure washer, this method is non-invasive and can be quite effective at clearing stubborn clogs.

What Is the Best Method to Repair a Broken Sewer Line?

The “best” method of repairing a sewer line varies depending on a variety of circumstances. Diagnostics from an experienced professional plumber in San Diego, like John Stevenson Plumbing, will inform you of the specifics of your case and how it can be remedied. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you with your broken sewer line.

Can I Put Flushable Wipes in the Drain?

No! So-called “flushable” wipes are by and large not safe to put down your drains. Though many brands advertise their wet wipes as being safe for sewers and septic tanks, most, if not all are still less likely to disintegrate than truly flushable toilet paper. All it takes is for one wipe to catch somewhere in the pipe, and then subsequent wipes and other debris can pile up, causing blockages and major issues for the pipes.

What Can I Put Down the Garbage Disposal?

Though some garbage disposals can be quite impressive at their job, many people hear the name of the machine and get an inaccurate idea of what they can handle. A best practice for garbage disposals is to treat them as a last resort. Before washing dishes, scrape any large pieces of food into the trash to save the disposal and your pipes the possible trouble. Foods that are garbage disposal safe in small amounts include scraps of non-fibrous fruits and vegetables, bits of cooked meat, and soft leftovers.

Many people, however, stretch their garbage disposal to its limits. Here’s what you should never put down your garbage disposal:

  • Eggshells
  • Grease or oil of any kind
  • Fibrous fruits and vegetables (peels, rinds, corn husks, artichokes, etc.)
  • Clam or oyster shells
  • Any non-food items (plastic, metal, glass, sediment, etc.)
  • Coffee grounds 
Why Do My Kitchen Drains Smell?

As mentioned above, kitchen drains can start to stink either because of built-up debris in the drain pipe or because of breaks or leaks in the drain line, allowing sewer gases to find their way up the pipe.