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How Deep Is The Sewer Line In My Yard?

Many homeowners ask themselves, “how deep is the sewer line in my yard?” If that’s you, read along. In this article, we’re going to answer some very common questions homeowners might have about their sewer system.

How Deep Is The Sewer Line In My Yard?

Residential sewer lines are usually 18 to 30 inches deep. Sewer lines in colder regions can be as deep as 4 to 8 feet. This depth keeps your pipes from freezing and bursting during the winter. City sewer lines are usually 12 feet deep. These pipes need to be deeper than residential sewer lines, ensuring that waste uses gravity to flow to the treatment plant.

Why Do You Need To Know Sewer Line Depth?

Most professionals recommend knowing exactly where your sewer line is and how deep it runs underground. By knowing its location, you can tell contractors where it’s located so that it’s not accidentally damaged during any construction or renovation. It also helps to know where your pipes are in case you plan on planting any trees or garden beds. Here are other reasons you might want to know your sewer line depth.
  • Fees – Your local county or city could charge you a penalty fee if you don’t meet their local building or sanitation codes. If you plan on building your own home and installing a sewer line, it’s important to know what specifications your area requires.
  • Cold climates – If you live in a colder region that experiences frost, it’s vital that your lines are buried below the frost line (also known as frost depth or freezing depth). This is the level of depth where groundwater begins to freeze. If your pipes are above the frost line, they can freeze in the winter and burst, halting waste from flowing out of your home. Colder region sewer lines are usually 4 feet deep.
  • Extreme weather – If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather, such as tornados, hurricanes, or earthquakes, it’s important to know the right sewer line depth. Heavy rains, high-speed winds, and flooding can uproot trees, which can damage your sewer lines. Needless to say, earthquakes can damage underground pipes, requiring extensive repairs.

What Is A Sewer Lateral?

Sewer Line Installation
“Sewer lateral” is another way of saying “sewer line.” This pipe is split into two sections: the upper lateral and the lower lateral. The upper lateral runs from your building to the property line. The lower lateral runs from your property line to the street, connecting to the city main line. In most cities, the homeowner is responsible for repairing or replacing the upper and lower laterals.

Are Cities Responsible For Sewer Lines?

No. Cities are not responsible for sewer lines, including the lower and upper laterals. Call your local public works department for more details. “Homeowners are required to maintain the lateral from their home to the main sewer line, typically located in the street or nearby easement. Maintaining the lateral includes keeping the lateral line flowing and free of debris such as roots or grease.” – Public Works: Los Angeles County.
Most city’s municipal codes allow property owners to connect their home sewer system to the sewer lateral under the public right-of-way. Your sewer line only serves your home, making it non-beneficial for the public. Therefore, the city cannot maintain or repair your property using other homeowners’ tax dollars.

Note: Los Angeles, and many other cities, do not provide financial assistance to property owners for lateral repair or replacement.

City Sewer Line Works

Can My Plumber Work On My Sewer Line?

If the work being done is entirely on your property, then yes, your plumber can work on your sewer line. For Los Angeles, workers need a C-36 Contractor’s License and a Los Angeles City business license. If the repairs are under the public right-of-way, plumbers need a Class “A” Permit issued by the City’s Bureau of Engineering.

What Kind Of Pipe Can I Use To Repair My Sewer Line?

“House connection sewers in easements over private property shall be constructed of only clay pipe with flexible joints, ABS and PVC plastic pipe or cast iron pipe, and may have an internal diameter of four or six inches.” – Los Angeles Municipal Code: Sewer Connection Regulations.

How Do I Find A Reliable Sewer Line Repair Contractor?

Sewer Line Construction

Use your city’s license board website to research what contractors have what classifications. This way, you can choose a reliable, certified sewer line repair professional who will do the job on time and with the right equipment. If you live in California, use the California Contractors State License Board.

Tree Roots And Sewer Lines

About 50% of all sewer backups and overflows in Los Angeles are caused by tree roots. These roots clog both private and public city sewer lines. Cities and sewer line professionals recommend repairing any faulty pipes that are leaking waste (tree fertilizer) into your soil.
Another common question homeowners ask is, “who is responsible if a tree on the public right-of-way destroys my sewer lines?” The Los Angeles City’s Municipal Code states that it’s still the homeowner’s responsibility.

Who Can Find The Sewer Line In My Yard?

If you need any assistance locating, inspecting, or repairing your sewer line in the Greater Los Angeles area, call SWE Sewer Solutions. For nearly 30 years, we’ve been offering the best sewer line repair solutions available. Don’t wait on other companies to pick up the phone and schedule an inspection weeks away. Call us and schedule your inspection today.