Converting from septic to sewer

Cities and towns are constantly running sewer lines into new districts and down new roads. The houses that were on septic systems originally now have the option to tie into public sewer. This is a perfect opportunity for people who have old systems and failing systems. You are not required to tie into public sewer, and if you have a newer septic system it might be better to just wait. The cost of installing and maintaining a new septic is much higher than paying a quarterly sewer bill. The sewer line is also maintenance and headache free. In this article we will discuss how a public sewer lateral is generally installed.

First the contractor and the homeowner must obtain all the necessary permits. There is generally a tie-in fee that the homeowner must pay. It is not cheap, but keep in mind that it cost the town a lot of money and time to run the new sewer line down your road. You can contact your local town sewer department to find out about the different permits. The method of installation will vary from town to town as well. Some town code requires SDR-35 pipe encased in stone, whereas others require SDR-21 pipe without stone. Your contractor should already know what the town expects of them. If they are clueless, this might be an indicator to find someone else who is more experienced.

After all the necessary permits are obtained, it’s time to start digging. It may be possible that due to grade issues, a pump tank would need to be installed. This would be necessary if the sewer was at a higher elevation than the homeowner’s sewer line (this is almost never the case). The contractor generally digs down near the road and finds where the town left their “stub”. Towns will leave a short piece of pipe with a cap buried in the ground so that the contractor can simply tie into the existing stub rather than try to cut into a sewer main. When the pipe is found, an elevation check is done to ensure correct pitch on the sewer line. Many towns require 2% pitch on a pipe. It ends up being about two inches of fall per ten feet of pipe. If you are using six-inch pipe they might require more pitch.

After the trench has been dug and the pipes by the road and the house are exposed, the contractor will begin installing pipe starting at the road. Going from the road to the house will minimize the amount of time the homeowner is without sewer. A cleanout is required every 90 feet of sewer line. If the local code requires stone around the pipe, then stone would have been placed under and around the pipe. At this point connections would be made at the house and the sewer line would be live. Someone from the sewer department will come and inspect everything at this point. After the inspector gives the OK then the trench is backfilled and graded off. The last thing to do is eliminate the old septic tank. The tank must be pumped out first, and then backfilled with stone. Town inspectors will usually check for this as well.

That is how a normal public sewer lateral is installed. It is pretty simple and if installed correctly should last well over a hundred years. Make sure you choose a professional plumber who is recommended by the town. The sewer department should be able to give you the names of a few experienced plumbers who they trust. So what are you waiting for? Let’s install your new sewer line!

Sewer lateral embedded in stone in Candandaigua

Sewer lateral SDR-21 pipe in Fairport, NY

Sewer line installed through the basement wall

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Switching from Septic to Sewer