In most buildings and homes you will find a part of your sewer system called the Sewer Line. The sewer line is made up of pipe that connects the structure to the sewer system or to the cesspool / Septic Tank. The sewer lines is normally buried under the ground so you will never be able to see it unless something goes wrong and you have to repair it.
Sewer lines can be made from several types of material. In the old days wooden sewer lines were used, even today some of these still exist in some large city’s. The most common types of sewer line materials that you will run into are service weight cast iron sewer line, PVC SCH 40 sewer line, Orangeburg Clay pipe sewer line. The first thing you will need to do before you can replace the broken or damaged piece of sewer line is find out where the problem is. You can do that using something like a sewer inspection camera with a digital pipe locater. Using this type of technology will help you find the area faster. Once you locate the problem in your sewer line your next step will be to determine what type of sewer line it is as we described above.
Now that you know what type of sewer pipe you have you can get the materials you need to repair the pipe. You will also need special tools for different types of sewer pipe as well. If your sewer line is made from PVC pipe, you can use a PVC saw or an electric sawzail to cut the pipe. You will also need PVC Glue & Primer as well to reconnect the pipe and the fittings. You will of course also need a level to make sure the pitch of the sewer pipe is also correct.
Cast Iron sewer lines also known as “service weight” cast iron pipe will require a ratchet or snap cutter to properly cut the pipe. However some old school plumbers still use an old fashioned hammer and chisel to cut the pipe but that is very time consuming. The cast iron snap or ratchet cutter will make cutting the cast iron easy and fast. Once you cut the section of the cast iron out, you will want to replace it with a new section of cast iron and Fernco couplings or mission couplings to connect the pieces of pipe together. You will also want to make sure that the pitch of the pipe is also correct using your level.
If you need to replace some Orange burg Clay pipe sewer line you will have to cut the Orange burg Clay pipe back to were the pipe is solid enough to clamp on a Fernco coupling then you can extend or replace the part of the sewer line you removed with another material like PVC or cast iron service weight sewer pipe. Replacing the Orange burg Clay pipe sewer line with the same material is not recommended by most plumbing codes because of the way it can collapse so easily. You should also check with your local plumbing codes before repairing this type of sewer pipe.
Once you have repaired the section of sewer line that you need to replace you will want to double check the pitch of the sewer line. If your pitch and your repair is correct you will now want to run some water through your newly repaired line to makes sure that everything is flowing again. If everything is flowing and the sewer line is 100% repaired, you know can back fill the dirt that you removed when you were digging to access the sewer line. In some states an inspection may be required before you can back fill the plumbing. Make sure to always check with your local plumbing board and inspection department to see if a plumbing inspection is required.