While every home and business has a sewer line connecting the building to the sewer system (or septic tank), the majority of people are quite happy to live their entire lives without having to know exactly where it is. For the rest of us, finding that elusive little pipe can be a bit of a headache. Luckily, with a little common sense, some deductive reasoning, and the development of technology, it doesn’t always have to be.
Sewer line location is actually more than just finding that a sewer line exists, and it goes from point “A” to point “B”. More often than not circumstances require that a more precise location is made. It all depends on the reason you need the location.
For instance, if you need it because you are looking for the perfect spot to put a cleanout in near your home’s foundation, you just need to locate where the line exits the home. On a foundation home, that is pretty straight forward, most of the time, and a proper detective can usually find it. On the other hand, if your home is on a slab, the process can be much more complex.
Maybe you have been told that you have a root problem in one area, and you need to know where to make the repair. In this case, you need to know exactly where the root problem is in your sewer line. In this case, a sewer video camera with a locator sond built into the head is your best bet. This will not only tell you exactly where the problem is, but also give an idea as to the depth of the pipe, and other factors
So, after more than 18 years of sewer line location, I have learned a few things about the process. Whether to give you an idea of what you should expect or to give you the tools to save the plumber some time, I will share those with you now. Just remember, giving data to your plumber is always a good thing, but expect him to verify the data. It is his job to do so…
1 – Detective work is the first step, and should never be underestimated. I remember early in my career where I was locating a pipe, and I just could not get a bead on it. When I finally found it, it was exiting the back of the house, going into the back yard, and dumping into the city main on the other side of the fence! Imagine my surprise.
Looking under the home (if on a raised foundation) is a great way to see how the pipe runs, and often even where it exits the home. Finding the city sewer, looking for “S” marks in the sidewalk, and knowing if the house was ever converted from a septic system are all helpful bits of information. More often than not, a suitable place for a foundation cleanout can be found by detective work alone.
2 – The second step, if more than detective work is needed, is to determine access. Getting proper access to the inside of a sewer line, so that an electronic location can be done is important. If you are looking to just trace the sewer line, often charging it with an electronic current (that can be detected by a locator) is enough. Other times, a camera may need to be used, in which case, getting a suitable access point becomes a little more difficult if no cleanout is present.
3 – Verification is the third step. This means that if the detective work, and electronic location do not complement each other, but seem to conflict, something is wrong. In this case, there is more data to collect. It is better to be thorough than take a chance on being wrong.
As you may have gathered by now, sewer line location can be as much an art as a science. Trying to find an exact location of a single spot under 3’ or more of soil, concrete, or asphalt can be a challenge. Having an experienced and professional plumber that specializes in this art form can really help negate the challenge.
If you need a true expert at sewer line location, give Gogo Rooter a call. You could not be in better hands.