Sewer Lines and You

Whether you’re moving in to a new place, repiping your home, or experiencing some troubles with your plumbing, knowing what you are dealing with is perhaps the best thing you can do. Part of knowing what you’re dealing with is understanding the sewer lines connecting your home to the rest of the sewer system. This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog we are going to give a decent (we hope) beginner’s primer on sewer lines.

Private and Public Sewer Lines

Sewer lines are the connections from your homes interior plumbing system to the public sewer system (or if you’re living outside of city limits a septic system). They are the lines that take the waste water off to treatment plants for their next big thing.  There are two parts to the line the public and private portion of the line. The private line is what you are responsible for as a home owner, once it connects to the public system then it is up to the city to maintain.

diagram of public and private sewer lines
Sewer Lines, Private and Public. Image from Pima County

The Kinds of Sewer Lines

There are a few different kinds of sewer lines out there, they all typically fall within these three categories: Sanitary, Storm, and Combined. Typically they all run about 6-10” in diameter. 

Sanitary Sewer Lines

As you have no doubt guess, the sanitary line is what handles the flow of waste water from your home. Toilets, sinks, showers, all of those are connected to sanitary sewer lines.

Storm Sewer Lines

Storm sewer lines are specifically made to handle excess storm water. The big reason for storm and sanitary lines to be separate is in case of flooding, the extra water might cause the sewer system to fail. It also helps ease the load on treatment plants as rain water doesn’t need treating.

Combined Sewer Lines

Bet you figured this one out already, you’re so smart! Combined lines handle both waste and storm water. They used to be much more common but now they see less use generally to prevent undue strain on water treatment plants.

How can I find info on my connection?

If you are Tucson locals like us, then look to the Pima County online database to find more info on your specific connection.

Common Sewer Line Problems

There are about four main cause of most sewer line problems. Let’s go over them briefly to help round out the basic sewer line 101 we’re providing here.


If you have trees in your yard you might experience this awful surprise. The root system of trees will grow through just about anything if given time and the right motivation, the sewer lines under your house are no deterrent to them! You likely won’t notice the first intrusion of roots but as your sink sand tubs begin draining slower (due to the constricted flow of the line) you’ll start wondering what’s wrong.

Damaged Pipes

Earthquakes, fallen trees, (or those dastardly roots we mentioned) there are plenty of ways you might end up with a crushed, broken or dislodged pipe.  A damaged pipe won’t flow the way it’s meant to and you could end up with flooding in your hard or shifting in your ground. 

Back Pitch

Sewer lines work because of gravity. The angle of the pipe from your home to the greater sewer system has a slight slope that helps nudge the water along on its journey. If the pipe doesn’t have that pitch you could end up with some serious drain issues. A back pitched pipe is usually a problem with the installation, though it is possible for the ground to settle and for the pipe to pitch weirdly.


Perhaps the most common thing people think of when they think of sewer line troubles: the dreaded clog. When a clog hits, it hits fast, water begins to back up and soon you’re left with something awful flooding your home. The biggest cloggers of drains? Fat, grease, and oil. 

Ok, that may have been a lot to take in, but don’t worry if you are struggling. The beauty of having a plumber as experienced, as knowledgeable, as down-right handy as Economy Plumbing Services LLC means you don’t need to know or worry about any of that stuff! If you are having plumbing problems and need work done on your sewer lines, simply give us a call and we will be out in a jiff to handle whatever life has thrown your way. After all…

If water goes through it or to it, we do it!

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