How to install PVC sewer pipes

Written by finn mccuhil
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How to install PVC sewer pipes
Taking care of wastewater (water in a sink image by terex from

The plumbing corollary to the rule that everything that goes up must come down, is that everything that comes in must go out. Once your plumbing system brings water into your house, it must be taken out again. Your waste drainage system takes care of that job. It collects all the wastewater in your house and carries it to your septic system or municipal sewage connection. PVC pipe is a good choice for this job. It is light weight and, if properly installed, will last for years.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Trenching equipment (backhoe or shovel)
  • PVC drain, waste and vent (DWV) pipe
  • Hacksaw
  • Utility knife
  • PVC lubricant (for compression-fit pipe)
  • PVC solvent and glue (for non-compression fittings)

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  1. 1

    Use a backhoe or shovel to dig a trench from your dwelling's sewage outlet to the septic tank inlet or municipal sewage connection. The recommended width of the trench is determined by the size of your pipe and can be found by referring to page 16 of the installation guide linked below in the reference section. Follow local ordinances regarding trench depth.

  2. 2

    Smooth the bottom of the trench with a shovel. Remove all rocks larger then one and a half inches. The bottom of the pipe should be evenly supported. No sharp or hard objects should be allowed to contact the pipe.

  3. 3

    Lay the pipe alongside the trench. Place the pipe end-to-end, as it will be installed.

  4. 4

    Begin assembling the pipe at the house's outlet. For compression fittings, lubricate the straight end of the pipe. Press the straight end of the pipe firmly and completely into the belled end. On glue-type fittings, clean the inside of the belled end with solvent. Then, clean the outside of the straight end of the joining pipe with solvent. Apply PVC glue to the outside of the straight end and press it firmly and completely into the bell.

  5. 5

    Cut the final pipe section to length with a hacksaw. Use a utility knife to remove any burrs from the inside of the pipe. Cut a 30-degree bevel around the outside lip of the pipe with a utility knife.

  6. 6

    Join the final section of pipe to the septic tank or sewage line.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean the ends of each pipe before applying lubricant or glue. Dirt and debris can cause early joint failure. Sewage lines are gravity fed. Maintain a gentle downward gradient in the trench from the house to the sewage hookup. If additional cuts are needed in the pipe to install saddles or other additions, use the procedure outlined in Step 5 to clean and bevel the ends of the pipe for assembly.

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