Repairing or replacing a sewer line on your property is one of the most costly and disruptive home plumbing problems. So knock on wood (or PVC) that you will never need to do it. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to understand how sewer line works. The knowledge may come in handy if you get unlucky and have an issue. Or at the very least, it’s interesting trivia for you to know.
What does the sewer pipe do and what is it made out of?
The sewer line is a single pipe that transports all your wastewater from inside your home to the sewer main that’s underneath the street. The pipe runs through your front yard, a few feet underground (below the frost line). Depending on the age of your home and whether the sewage line has ever been upgraded or replaced, the pipe on your property can be a few different materials. This can be a major factor in whether you will possibly run into a problem in the future.
Types of sewer line pipes – from old to new
- Clay – Clay sewer pipes were commonly used in older homes. While no longer popular, they can still be used for new installations today. The material does not degrade from chemicals but it is heavy, hard to cut, and prone to breaking due to pressure from underground roots.
- Orangeburg – Made of wood fibers and special water-resistance adhesive, Orangeburg pipe was popular with plumbers in the past because it’s light and easy to cut. Unfortunately, it’s not very durable – its lifespan is less than 50 years – so it’s not a viable option for new installations anymore.
- Cast iron – About as strong as you can get, cast-iron is found still found in many homes. It can be installed today but not as often as modern plastic pipes. The downsides to cast-iron are that the material is heavy, requires special tools to cut, and expensive. But if it’s already in your home, it’s not something to worry about.
- PVC and ABS – There are two types of plastic pipes that are used underground for sewer lines. PVC and ABS are quite similar, though they have different codes and use different adhesives. They also differ by color – PVC is white and ABS is black. In general, PVC is more flexible and ABS is stronger. Both materials are good choices for a new sewer line since they’re inexpensive and the plastic helps prevent roots from causing a blockage.
Hopefully you will never have to put your knowledge of sewer pipes to use – or find out what material your pipe is made out of, for that matter. It’s also important to know the warning signs that there’s a problem with your sewer line. These include multiple slow drains in your home, bubbling sounds coming from your toilet, or other odd plumbing occurrences. If you’re concerned about your sewer line, it’s best to act as soon as possible. At Pratt Plumbing, we can come out to your home to inspect the sewer line. If there is a problem, we can recommend whether the pipe can be cleaned out or needs to be repaired. To schedule an appointment with a Pratt Plumbing technician, call (806) 373-7866 today.