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Sewer or Septic drain line replacement procedure: beginning here, this article series describes in detail all of the steps in diagnosing & repairing or replacing a broken or damaged main drain between building and public sewer or building and septic tank, including when, where, how, and why a sewer pipe or "drain line" is replaced.
How to determine that a sewer or septic system drain pipe needs replacement
Step by step main drain piping repair or replacement, between the house and septic tank or sewer connectionHow to document the location of buried plumbing & septic components
Final site restoration guide after sewer or septic pipe replacement
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
Diagnosing the Cause of a Blocked Building Drain or Sewer Line
Replacing a house to septic or sewer system with piping that runs from the building exterior to a septic tank located downhill from the home.
We present an actual case study, illustrated with photos of each step in the diagnosis and replacement of a blocked
sewer line. The waste line in this case was found to be blocked, damaged, old,
and needing replacement in the course of an attempt to clear a blocked drain between the house and septic tank.
Technical reviewers are welcome and are listed at "References."
The first signs of a main building drain clog or breakage & leak problem
How to diagnose slow drains & toilet backups: The first signs of a drain problem was the report by our tenant that the toilet was
slow to flush in the home.
Is the slow drain problem at a fixture, the whole building, or main drain? Following our own advice on diagnosing clogged drains
and how to distinguish a clogged drain from a failed septic system (online at Diagnosing Clogged Drains & Septic System Backups we asked if all the drains in the home were slow or just the toilet.
The answer: all of the building plumbing fixture drains were
slow. That tells us that the blockage is somewhere in the main building drain.
The toilet would show the most dramatic blockage because it sends a large sudden discharge volume of water
and waste into the sewer line. We flushed the toilet and watched the water rise right up to the bowl brim.
(If the toilet had begun to overflow we'd have reached inside the tank to manually close the tank flapper valve
to stop the flush.)
Though not optimistic that it would make any difference, we tried plunging the toilet aggressively with a
manual toilet plunger. It didn't help. Plunging the toilet made no difference. We already suspected a main drain or system problem
(all drains were slow). So we needed a plumber to help with further diagnosis of the drain blockage. [Continue this article using the links shown below.]
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Thanks to Thomas Gleason, excavators, Poughkeepsie, NY 845-454-3730, for the excavating work at the project photo documented here in September 2006
Thanks to Cleveland Plumbing, the prime plumbing contractor, Staatsburgh, NY 845-485-7700 for the plumbing work and drain clog diagnosis work documented here in September 2006
 Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf.
 "How to Maintain Your Septic System", Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water, retrieved 8/8/12, original source: http://dec.alaska.gov/water/wwdp/onsite/maintain_septic.htm [copy on file as Alaska_Septic_Care.pdf]
 Installers Manual for Conventional Onsite Domestic Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems", Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water, retrieved 1/15/2001, original source: [copy on file as Alaska_Certified_Installer's_Manual.pdf]
Tyler, E. T., R. Laak, E. McCoy, and S. S. Sandhu. 1977. "The Soil as a Treatment System." in Home Sewage Treatment. ASAE publication 5-77
Septic Tank Maintenance - Guide M-113, R. Craig Runyan, Extension Water Quality Specialist, New Mexico septic tank size table , scheduled for update 11/07 (pending), Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture and Home Economics, New Mexico State University (Las Cruces)
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
Quoting from Amazon's description: For the homebuilder, one mistake in estimating or installing wells and septic systems can cost thousands of dollars. This comprehensive guide filled with case studies can prevent that. Master plumber R. Dodge Woodson packs this reader-friendly guide with guidance and information, including details on new techniques and materials that can economize and expedite jobs and advice on how to avoid mistakes in both estimating and construction. Chapters cover virtually every aspect of wells and septic systems, including on-site evaluations; site limitations; bidding; soil studies, septic designs, and code-related issues; drilled and dug wells, gravel and pipe, chamber-type, and gravity septic systems; pump stations; common problems with well installation; and remedies for poor septic situations. Woodson also discusses ways to increase profits by avoiding cost overruns.
Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
Quoting an Amazon reviewer's comment, with which we agree--DF:This book is informative as far as it goes and might be most useful for someone with an older system. But it was written in the early 1980s. A lot has changed since then. In particular, the book doesn't cover any of the newer systems that are used more and more nowadays in some parts of the country -- sand mounds, aeration systems, lagoons, etc.
"International Private Sewage Disposal Code," 1995, BOCA-708-799-2300, ICBO-310-699-0541, SBCCI 205-591-1853, available from those code associations.
"Manual of Policy, Procedures, and Guidelines for Onsite Sewage Systems," Ontario Reg. 374/81, Part VII of the Environmental
Protection Act (Canada), ISBN 0-7743-7303-2, Ministry of the Environment,135 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5 Canada $24. CDN.
Manual of Septic Tank Practice, US Public Health Service's 1959.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones