If your home is situated in a city or urban area, chances are good you may have heard the term “sewer lateral” a time or two. This may have come up during the purchasing process of your home, or could have been something you had to deal with as far as maintenance or inspections go.

For most homeowners, maintaining a sewer lateral is their responsibility. Even though this line ties directly into the city’s main sewage line, the part that collects your home’s waste and carries it to the city’s line is your sewer lateral.

If purchasing a new home, it’s always important to have the sewer lateral inspected just as you would have the other sewage lines and interior plumbing inspected. Having severe damage or blockages in the lateral can lead to a wide range of problems as well as costly repairs or replacements of certain portions of the sewer line.

Facts About a Sewer Lateral

Whether you are new to the knowledge of a sewer lateral or have heard about them for years, there are a few interesting facts that can apply to the majority of laterals being used today.

  • Modern lateral pipes are made from PVC, but older pipes may be cast iron
  • If your home uses a cast iron lateral, clogs and rust can be a serious problem
  • Most lateral pipes measure 4 inches in diameter, though 6 inch is not uncommon
  • The depth of a sewer lateral is normally 12 inches below the water table line
  • The water table line will vary for each city and region of the country
  • The right homeowner’s insurance can be selected to cover lateral damages
  • Replacing sewer laterals can be extremely expensive for most homeowners
  • Maintenance every year is important for ensuring properly working lateral lines
  • Internal inspection of a lateral line does not need to damage your lawn or property
  • Most plumbers and sewage inspection professionals will use threaded cameras

Maintaining a Sewer Lateral

Staying on top of annual maintenance for your sewer lateral is extremely important. Trees growing in your yard can eventually invade the space designated for the lateral pipes, and may even crush them slowly as the roots grow and expand.

Professional plumbers can provide scheduled inspections of your sewer lateral to ensure no tree roots are invading potential cracks or holes in the pipe. This is extremely important since, if left untreated, blockages in your lateral line can back up into your home and cause even more serious damages.

Preventative maintenance or inspections should be scheduled on a regular basis. If caught early enough, any damage to the pipes can be repaired via trenchless processes saving you quite a bit of money in the long run.

Additionally, inspections rarely need your yard dug up with heavy machinery. Instead, small video cameras on the end of cables or poles can be inserted into the pipe to check for internal damage, roots, clogs, and other issues.