Sewer lines are an essential part of every city and are responsible for transporting wastewater from your home or office back to the city’s main septic tank. If you are starting a home improvement project, you want to make sure that you do not hit the sewer line during the process. Furthermore, if you are installing a new sink or toilet, you want to make sure that you are able to connect this appliance properly. There are a few methods that you can use to locate an underground sewer line.
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First Method: Checking with the City
One of the easiest methods that you can use is to check with the city’s zoning office to see if they know where the sewer line is located. Some of the steps include:
- Go to the city office directly or call them to see if they can tell you where the sewer line is located. Usually, they can show you where the line goes from your home to the city’s main line.
- If you are unable to reach the city, see if there is an interactive underground utility map of your area online. Smaller towns and cities might not have online maps; however, a lot of cities will let you know how long the pipe is, how deep the pipe is, and whether the line is public or private.
- You can also dial811to reach out to local utility companies if you are planning on starting a home improvement project. This is a completely free service and will help you keep from hitting an underground sewer line during the process of your home improvement project.
- If none of the steps above will work, you can also call a plumber and ask them for help locating sewer lines underground. They will be able to come to your home, locate the pipes that connect to your sewer line, and map out the locations for you with tape.
The city might also be able to let you know if the sewer line is public versus private. A private sewer is a drain that connects a single property to other drains that are doing the same function. A public sewer line is located where two (or more) drains coming from different properties come together.
Second Method: Using a Pipe Locator
You can also locate underground sewer lines yourself. Some of the steps include:
- Purchase or recent a pipe locator from a local store and set the transmitter and locator wand to identical frequencies.
- Feed the detector line about 15 feet into a sewer cleanout or drain. Try to avoid using a toilet since the device tends to work poorly if it is submerged.
- Keep the wand pointed vertically at the ground. Rotate it until you hear a strong beeping signal. It should be the loudest at the end of the line. The display might also have arrows that let you know when you are moving in the same direction. Once you have located the pipe using the pipe locator, mark the location with a flag.
- Return to the place where you inserted the detector line and unspool a bit more into the pipe. Then, you will need to locate the pipe using the detector once again. Once you have located the underground pipe the second time, add a second utility flag.
You should complete this process several times and continue to plant flags where you locate the underground sewer line. This is a critical part of how to locate underground sewer lines. As you go through this process, you want to keep track of where the sewer line is located. That way, you will be able to find it if you are planning on installing a new appliance. You will also be able to avoid hitting it if you are doing a home improvement project outside.
Furthermore, there are a lot of pipe detectors that will be able to listen for leaks underground as well. If you find that your water bill is rising and you might not know why, consider looking for an underground detector that will be able to help you find a leak.
Related article: Essential Guide to Sewer Infrastructure Maintenance.
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