The Different Types of Sewer Pipes

Curious about the different kinds of sewer pipes? Well, be curious no longer! This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re covering just that. The different types of sewer pipe, when they’re used and more. So let’s talk about that!

Sewer Pipe

Sewer pipe is the workhorse of your plumbing system. It’s what carries all the waste water from your home. For most folks, you won’t know what kind of pipes you have unless you’ve bought your home, just built and that info was provided, or if you have had to do repairs in the past. Digging up your yard, replacing pipes is never a fun time, so we don’t blame ya!

Knowing what kind of pipe you do have however, can make the process of repairs easier, or at least take the sting out a bit as you’ll know ahead of time what kind of pipes are running through your yard and what you’ll need to do when it’s time to repair them.

For the most part, the easiest way to estimate what kind of sewer pipes you have? The age of your house.

Newer Builds –  1970s to Now

Homes built in the 1970s til now are more likely to use plastic sewer pipe. If the home is built in the 70s there may still be older clay or cast iron pipes. Regardless, these new pipes will extend from the home a few yards where they meet with the city sewer main. If the home has been remodeled, or had pipes repaired, there may be some old style sewer pipe that connects the sewer main to the new home pipes.

If you were to have a home built today, you’re likely going to be looking at PVC or ABS plastic pipe. Plastic pipe is infinitely easier to work with (though it may not have as long of lifespans)

Older Builds – Pre-70s

Older buildings, especially those built pre 1950, you may find a few different kinds of sewer pipe. Clay, cast iron, or even a type of pipe called Orangeburg. If you were to do some digging and found clay or cast iron piping, no worries! Both of those pipes can stay in the ground, so long as they’re still working. Orangeburg however is a problem and you should look at replacing it. We’ll get into that more later.

It’s just as possible to find newer plastic sewer pipes in an older home! Over time, the wear and tear on sewer pipes will need replacement and using newer plastic piping is often way easier to install after the fact than older style pipes.

Plastic Sewer Pipes

We talk about plastic pipes all the time here at Economy. When it’s inside the home we’re talking PEX, when we’re looking at the heavy duty sewer pipe we’re talking about PVC and ABS. Both of these sewer pipes have incredibly smooth surfaces to allow for easy carrying of waste to the sewer main, as well as for resisting roots from finding any place to grab ahold.

Cast Iron

Cast iron, while an older staple can sometimes still be used today. Cast iron makes for incredibly strong sewer pipes, able to withstand tons of pressure without breakage. It’s also nonflammable, which while not a problem when it’s buried underground, if you do use it in your home you can feel safe it won’t melt in a fire.


Clay piping is an old, old style but can still be used today. Clay pipe is inert, meaning it is more resistant to chemical degradation. However, where plastic pipes are smooth, clay sewer pipes are porous, giving tree roots something to grab ahold on and break though.


Now this is one you probably have never heard of before today! Orangeburg is a type of pipe made up of wood pulp and pitch. It was a water resistant pipe, but it doesn’t have staying power. Back in the day it was used because it was easy to carry and cut, but these pipes won’t last long. Their upper limit is 50 years, could fail in 10. Most building codes have taken it off as an acceptable building material.

There you have it! The four different types of sewer pipe that might be in your hard right now! Remember, start first by looking at the age of your home and that’ll narrow down what to expect when you break ground and start digging.

If you need help running new lines in your home, you know who to call. Economy Plumbing will come out, diagnose the problem and get it sorted – whether or not you know what kind of pipe ya got!

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

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