How to Run a Sewer Line

In most areas of the United States, if not all, a homeowner cannot legally run a sewer line.

How to Run a Sewer Line

A sewer line must be run by a licensed plumber, and permits and a final inspection are also required. If you are planning on having a sewer line run for your house, check the regulations for your area and for securing the necessary permits.

1-CALL. Most states have what is known as "1-CALL" or "call before you dig." Your plumber will call before any digging is done in your yard. Officials will then come to your home and mark any underground lines, such as gas and electrical.

Permit. Your plumber will go to the city and tell the officials that a sewer line is going to be run at your house. The city will then issue a permit allowing him to proceed with the work. After the work is done, the plumber will return with the permit and ask for an inspection. There is also a fee, which varies from city to city, for this permit.

Sewer tap. If your plumber does not know where your sewer tap is located, municipal workers can come to your home and mark its location for you. (This is not usually done by placing the 1-Call.)

Dig. The plumber will need a backhoe to do the digging. First he will dig where the sewer line comes out from the house. If a new sewer line is being installed, then he will dig as deep as the sewer tap. Install a clean-out right outside the house. The clean-out is a connection of pipe extending up from the sewer line and just visible above ground with a cap on top that can be removed when necessary. The clean-out allows for easy access to run a cable through your sewer line to unstop it if that is ever necessary. Then your plumber will dig a ditch toward the sewer tap. You also need to install a clean-out about every 60 feet or whatever distance your city code requires.

Lay sewer line. Residential sewer lines are usually 4-inch pipes. When laying the sewer line, there needs to be a 1/4-inch fall per foot. The dirt must be packed firmly under the pipe to avoid in swags in the line.

Connect to sewer tap. Install a clean-out at the sewer tap. After doing this, you can then connect the sewer line to the tap using the necessary fittings. (Different taps require different fittings. The type of fittings will vary, depending upon the type of sewer valve.) The plumber will also need a plumber's glue and a purple primer to connect pipes and fittings. (See "Tips" below.)

Inspection. Before covering the sewer line, you first need to have an inspection. This is done by a city inspector, and your plumber must take the permit acquired at the beginning of the project to the city to have this done before covering the line. A city inspector will then come to your property to ascertain that the sewer line has been installed properly and meets the city's particular codes. (Note: If additional changes need to be made, the plumber will have to return with the permit to the city and request another inspection upon completion.)

Cover. Once your sewer line has passed inspection, your will cover it. It's important not to dump heavy loads of dirt onto the newly installed line. This can cause swags in the line

Things You Will Need

  • Licensed plumber
  • Sewer pipe
  • Pipe fittings
  • Clean-outs
  • Backhoe


  • If you are using PVC pipe for your sewer line, be sure to get Schedule 40 pipe.


  • Make sure to use the "1-CALL" or "call before you dig." You do not want to start digging and hit an underground gas or electrical line. If you do not call to have the underground lines marked and you hit one, you will be charged for the cost of repairing the lines. If you do call and have it marked and then hit a line, you will not be responsible for the cost of repairs.

About the Author

Dena Bolton has written for local newspapers and magazines since 1980. She currently writes online for various sites, focusing on gardening. She has a BA in Political Science and German and graduate credits in Latin American Studies from East Tennessee State University. In addition, she is a TN Master Gardener.