How to Locate a Sewer Line

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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Before you can replace a sewer line, you first must locate the original line. That can be a tricky piece of guesswork unless you know which sources to consult, especially if this is an older line that wasn't installed to code.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Call the local governmental office and ask for any sewer maps of your area. They're not always accurate, but the map gives you a starting point.

  2. 2

    Locate your property lines. Ask your county subdivision and deed office if there's a map of your subdivision. Your sewer line should not be installed on your neighbor's property, so pinpointing your property can narrow the possibilities of where your sewer line is located.

  3. 3

    See if there's a sewage easement on your property or your neighbor's property. Chances are good that the sewage pipe was installed there.

  4. 4

    Look for cleanouts to locate the sewer line. These are little stubs of pipe sticking out of the ground that are used to "clean out" the sewer line. In newer construction, these are usually required about every 10 feet or so, but older construction may not have such easily determinable locators.

  5. 5

    Start digging. In some cases, you can't find the line and you'll have to dig to find where it goes. Try to eliminate some possibilities before you break ground.

Tips and warnings

  • In most cases the easement was purchased from the original property owner and you have the right to dig up that area to replace the existing pipe. However, check with your neighbors if they have anything, such as plants, over or near the easement.
  • Always check with your state's one call system before you dig to make sure your rented backhoe isn't going to tear up a gas line. You don't want to blow anybody up.
  • Get any local permits you need before you start to dig. If the code enforcement officer drives by and sees something he doesn't like, you'll be paying fines on top of the permit fees.

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