What is a Sewer Hole?
A sewer hole is a hole or opening into which water drains from a building. A sewer hole may be small, large, underground or above ground. Most often they are found in basements and crawl spaces where there are no plumbing fixtures to prevent them from draining away. They can occur anywhere in the home but most commonly occur in kitchens and bathrooms.
There are many reasons why a sewer hole may develop. Some of these include:
Water seeping through cracks in the foundation causing water to leak out
The drain being clogged with debris such as old food wrappers, cigarette butts, etc. that block the pipe leading to the toilet and cause overflow when flushed. (See picture)
How Do You Know If Your Home Has A Sewer Hole?
If your basement or crawl space is damp and smells foul, then you have a possible sewer hole. If you notice that the water level in your bathtub has risen significantly, then you probably do not want to live there! However, if the water level in your tub hasn’t increased much at all, then it does not necessarily mean that there is a problem. Water levels can rise very quickly so don’t panic just because the bathroom sink isn’t running.
If your basement door is not closed properly and you see water coming out of the drain, then chances are there is one. A sewer hole will usually have a small amount of grayish liquid leaking from it. Sometimes it will be clear while other times it may look like black tar. When you call a plumber to fix the problem, they will say that if the drain looks blocked up, then there must be something blocking up the pipe leading to the toilet.
It is possible that there isn’t a hole at all and water has only accumulated around your drain. The following are steps to take in order to figure out whether or not you have a sewer hole and need professional help:
Turn on the faucet nearest the drain to flush any clogs. If the drain is indeed clogged, then this method should produce immediate results. If this step does not work, then you probably don’t have a sewer hole. The only way to find out what is the matter is to clear it yourself.
If you see that the water outside is running differently than normal, then chances are that it has something to do with the sewer hole in your home. If you see that there is a puddle of water forming around your home, then it is quite possible that it is coming from the sewer hole. It could also be coming from other sources such as a sprinkler head or a leaky pipe. Check the water level in the bathtub.
If you see that the water level in your bathtub has risen significantly, then chances are you have a sewer hole. If it has not increased at all, then you do not have one. The reason why this is important is because if the drain is clogged, then water can rise up into your home and flood it! You can prevent this by turning on the shower head and allowing water to flow freely into it.
Steps To Attempt Sewer Hole Repair Yourself
If you’re fairly certain that you have a sewer hole but aren’t sure about attempting the repair yourself, then you may want to consider hiring a handyman or plumber to fix it for you.
The plumber that you hire may charge you a flat fee for coming out to your home, assessing the problem, and then coming back later to do the actual work. This will prevent the water level from rising.
If you see that there is a crack in your foundation, then it may be leaking into your sewer hole. If you notice standing water under your house, then this could mean that your sewer hole is full and needs to be pumped out as soon as possible. Standing water is the worst case scenario because it can cause very bad things to happen to your property. If you have a lot of money to spend, then this may be the way to go.
On the other hand, if you’re like most people who need their sewer holes fixed, then you will probably want to attempt the repair yourself. This is how you do so:
Before You Begin
Make sure that your family knows that the bathroom will be out of commission for at least a few hours. It can cause the floor to rot, mold to form, and the house to become infested with various insects. If you need to contact a plumber after hours, then it may be quite expensive. It is best to have all of your ducks in a row before calling one.
It is possible that you do not actually have a sewer hole but rather a clog within your pipe leading from the house to the street. If there are any pregnant women in your home, then be sure to relocate them to a safer location such as a friend or family member’s home. There shouldn’t be any food or drinks near the work area. Keep pets away since they may fall in the hole or even get sprayed by sewage water.
It would be a good idea to put on some old clothes and bring in a face mask to avoid breathing in any noxious fumes.
Step 1: Find The Exact Location Of The Problem
If your house has a basement, then it makes this job much easier. Otherwise, you will have to walk around the outside perimeter of your home looking for anything that may resemble a sewer hole. Look near the street and see if there is anything that resembles a manhole cover or even just a lid. Check your basement and see if there is anything that looks like it may give access to the sewer hole.
If you have a crawlspace, then look for anything that may grant access to the sewer hole.
If you are unable to find the exact location of the hole within a half hour, then you will need to call a plumber. Be sure to note the time that you started looking for it since they will ask you. A plumber can charge you up to $100 just to come out and if they can’t find the problem, then you may end up paying much more.
Step 2: Protect Your Foundation
In order to fix the sewer hole, you will have to dig around your foundation and this could prove to be very costly if you do a poor job of protecting it.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Ramped cap unit for a main pool drain cover plate (TE Veloskey, JA Wichmann – US Patent 6,397,408, 2002 – Google Patents)
- Pool or spa drain cover (MG Lyristakis – US Patent 9,340,988, 2016 – Google Patents)
- Vaned anti-vortex pool drain cover (DF Corsette, FJ Jedlick – US Patent 4,170,047, 1979 – Google Patents)
- Design and fabrication of home drain cover (MR Rusli – 2012 – core.ac.uk)
- Protective cover for use with drain pipes (G Lechuga – US Patent 5,427,417, 1995 – Google Patents)