How to Retrofit Ceramic Sewer Pipes

Written by ashton daigle
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How to Retrofit Ceramic Sewer Pipes
Retrofitting your ceramic sewer pipes with PVC is worth the effort. (pipes image by Mikhail Malyshev from

Before the advent of PVC pipe, ceramic sewer pipes were the building standard in residential plumbing. And while ceramic sewer pipes have been known to last for long periods of time, they are simply not as durable or dependable as PVC pipe. Over time, the elements can erode away at the ceramic material, and it is not uncommon for ceramic sewer pipes to develop cracks. Retrofitting your ceramic sewer pipes with PVC pipes is labour-intensive work, but the money you can save by taking this project on yourself makes it well worth the effort.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Hatchet
  • Channel locks
  • PVC pipe and fittings
  • PVC glue

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  1. 1

    Contact your water company and make arrangements to have your water shut off temporarily on the day you plan to change out your pipes. The city, county or homeowner's association water company will also be responsible for installing a new sewer trap at the street and connecting your output lines to it.

  2. 2

    Determine where your sewer line runs from. In most residential dwellings, the sewer pipe runs from the main trap out to the street to the main neighbourhood line. Your main sewer trap is typically located right outside your home, close to where your laundry room drain pipe flows out. Find the trap located near the street or at the edge of your property line. The route of your sewer line will be a straight line between your house sewer trap and the neighbourhood trap.

  3. 3

    Dig out the area around your main trap, near your home, first. Disconnect and extract the old ceramic trap. Use a pair of channel locks to loosen the connections.

  4. 4

    Apply glue and slide a PVC connector to the base of your new PVC trap. Screw the end of the connector attached to the new trap. The trap will be a T-shaped piece of PVC pipe.

  5. 5

    Dig a trench along the route where your existing sewer pipes run. You want to fully expose the old sewer pipe. Use a hand-held hatchet to clear away any roots if you have to.

  6. 6

    Glue the other end of the trap and attach a PVC connector and your first length of sewer pipe to the end of the trap. Continue running PVC pipe until you reach the trap near the street. Again, your water utility company will be responsible for installing a new trap at the street and tying your line into it.

Tips and warnings

  • If your sewer line runs under your driveway or other paved area, you will need to hire a cement contractor to dig up and re-lay the paved areas. Unless you actually have a burst, cracked or otherwise damaged ceramic sewer pipe, retrofitting when you have to excavate a paved area is cost-prohibitive.

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