Sewer Line Repair/Replacement

If you have had multiple mail sewer line backups, you may be thinking about getting a sewer line repair or replacement.  Before you call a plumber out to give you an idea of what that might entail, helpful to get an idea of what is available, and how to know what options may be best for you.

Let’s look at the options…


There are basically 4 different types of cleanouts that you can get.  Each one tackles a different problem.

Property line cleanouts are often installed within the property easement.  This is usually within 5’ or so of the sidewalk, in the home’s front yard.  The main function of these is to separate the home’s sewer line, from the city line, under the street (before it hits the city main).

These require permitting and inspection, as once it is complete, the city will use that cleanout to service that section of the line.  This is good because that pipe is usually made of clay, which is very susceptible to root intrusion.

Foundation cleanouts are installed approximately 12” or so from the home’s foundation.  Their function is usually to allow for cleaning the sewer line from the home’s foundation to the easement.  They can also serve as a spot repair in instances where the pipe material changes (as is often the case with homes with a clay, asbestos, or other materials for their main).

Terminal cleanouts are used on all sewer lines, at the very end.  Most of the time, they are under the home, and not accessible.  In some cases where a foundation cleanout is not feasible, the sewer line may be extended to a spot where an accessible terminal cleanout can be installed.  Keep in mind that this is the least ideal method, but as a last resort, it is better than no cleanout at all.

The 4th type of cleanout does not really have a name, but is used to break long distances.  Plumbing code states that a cleanout must be installed ever 100’ or ever 135 degrees of direction change.


Often times a homeowner may think, or even be told that they require a new sewer line, when a repair may be all that is necessary.  Repairs are great because they are much less labor intensive, require less excavation, and (if it is a small repair) do not usually require permitting.

There are a couple of downsides to getting a repair however.  The first of which is that the exact spot of the repair has to be known.  This usually needs to be done with a camera and locator, which is best done through a cleanout.  This means that you may need to have a cleanout installed first before you can tell where the repair needs to be made.

The second is that if one part of a pipe needs to be repaired, there is a good chance that more spot will pop up in time.  Either that, or the surrounding pipe may be too weak to make a leak proof seal.  In that case, the plumber must keep digging, following the pipe, until he finds a good section.  That may turn out to be more expensive than just replacing the line.

The ideal repair is to start with a foundation cleanout.  Then find (via a camera and location) that the problem is in the easement, where the cast iron meets the clay (VERY common), and install a property line cleanout, which also serves as a spot repair.


A sewer line replacement is sometimes the best resort, and even at times the only resort.  For instance, if you have a clay sewer line in your front yard, you will have nothing but problems until you replace it.  Roots love clay sewer lines.  The same can be said for asbestos pipe.

If your sewer line is Orangeburg, you pretty much have no choice.  Orangeburg pipe is a pipe that is basically made up of compressed wood chips and pitch… a lot like tar paper.  It was in use all the way up until the early 1970s.  It is never round, and is often riddled with gaping holes.  There is no way to effectively repair it, or tie good pipe into it.  Orangeburg, if found, should always be replaced.

Hopefully this article answered any questions you have about sewer line repair vs replacement.  If you have further questions on this topic, or would like more information, just call an expert.  At Gogo Rooter, we always have an expert waiting to help you out with all of your plumbing issues.  Give us a call today!

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