How to Locate Your Sewer Lines On Your Property

Locating your main sewer line can be a necessary step for home repairs or renovations. In this article, you’ll find an easy-to-follow guide on how to locate your sewer line access points yourself.

You’ll learn about the various methods for finding the sewer cleanout point inside your home and in your yard. You’ll also learn how to detect if your sewer line or septic tank is clogged and what to do if it is.

Finding Your Main Sewer Line

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that our homes have plumbing systems beneath the floorboards and walls. More often than not, we’re happy to not think about this system until something goes wrong. 

When it does, it’s often necessary to act ASAP to avoid further – and more costly – issues. While many kitchen sink calamities may be caused by something as simple as a blocked drain, knowing how to locate your main sewer line can be useful if something more serious occurs. 

In this article, you’ll find an easy-to-follow guide on how to locate your main sewage line without breaking a sweat or having to call in a professional. We’ll look into how issues with sewer lines form, what signs of blockage might mean for your home, and discuss the tools available for locating pipes fast that don’t involve pricey excavation fees. 

Ready? Take a deep breath before you dive in!

How to Locate Sewer Lines: Key Takeaways

  • Most houses have one central drain pipe that leads to the municipal system or septic tank. Knowing where this pipe is can be important for sewer cleanout, home repairs, or renovations
  • The sewer cleanout point is an important access point for addressing blockages and other issues with your home’s plumbing system
  • To find the sewer line in your yard, you can contact the previous homeowner, check with the city’s zoning office, look for an outdoor drain cleanout, or call a plumbing professional
  • To find the indoor sewer clean-out point, search in the basement, crawl space, or garage near where the main drain exits the house, checking for a T- or Y-shaped pipe fitting with a threaded plug and a plastic cap
  • Signs of a clogged sewer line or septic system include multiple or all the drains backing up, drainage appearing from the sewer clean-out outside of your house, and unpleasant odors

How to Find the Sewer Clean-Out Point

main sewer line clean out access point
The main Sewer clean-out point is normally found in the yard of your property, but may be inside in older houses

One of the most important things to know about your home is where your sewer clean-out point is located. This access point allows you to easily access your sewer lines and deal with issues involving clogs. In modern homes, the cleanout point is typically found outdoors, but in older properties it can also be found inside the house. 

If you’re unsure where your cleanout point is, the first step is to search your house. 

The cleanout will typically be found in a basement, crawl space, or garage near where the main drain pipe leads to the main sewage line – just before it meets the foundation of the home. It will normally look like a T- or Y-shaped pipe fitting with a threaded plug with a square nut (there may be a plastic screw cap covering it). 

If you can’t find it in your home, then follow the steps below.

Ways to Find Your Sewer Line in Your Yard

When it comes to finding the single sewer line in your yard, there are a few different ways you can go about it.

Pick Up the Phone and Call the Previous Owner or 811

To save time, the first thing to try is to speak to the previous owners. If they lived in the home for a while, they may know where the sewer pipe is located. 

Alternatively, try giving 811 a buzz. 811 is the national call-before-you-dig phone number and operators can provide help to find your sewer line (and other buried utility lines).

Check With the City or Municipal Sewer System for an Underground Utilities Map

If the previous owner or 811 struck out, another option is to check with the city’s zoning office or engineering department to see if they have a sewer map that can reveal the line’s location. 

Have a Treasure Hunt in Your Yard

image of idyllic home yard
Check your yard and look for any signs of drainage or access points.

Still can’t find the mains? Then it’s time to have a look around your property, searching for any signs of drains, or access points. Be sure to check under any overgrown landscaping while you do so.

You can also try and locate your sewer line by finding where the municipal sewer main meets your property line and attempting to trace it back towards your property.

If you can’t find it with manpower, you can also buy (or rent) a pipe locator tool, although this will likely cost you several hundred dollars.

If you think you’ve identified where your one main sewer line is located, then properly mark the ground along its path, and carefully dig to confirm you’ve found your sewer system.

Call a Professional Who Specializes in Sewer Line Services

If all else fails, your next step is to call plumbing professionals who specialize in locating underground sewer lines. They may use pipe locators or detectors to trace the path of your line and pinpoint any blockages that might be present. 

Finally, make sure you document where the access point is on your property maps so that if any issues arise in the future, you’ll know exactly where they are located outdoors.

How Can I Tell if My Sewer Line or Septic Tank Is Clogged?

bathroom sink drain backing up (1)
If multiple drains start backing up, it usually means a clog in either your ventilation or your main sewer line.

There are a few signs you can look out for to help determine if you have issues with your sewer lines. 

One of the first warning signs that your line may be clogged is when multiple drains start backing up. This could mean that the sewer lines are blocked and causing water to build up in different areas of your home, such as the shower, bathtub, sink, or toilet. 

You may also notice drainage appearing from the sewer cleanout outside of your house. Additionally, sewage may be present in floor drains or water might be backing up into the shower when flushing the toilet.

Another sign that your main line is clogged is slow-draining fixtures or gurgling sounds coming from drains. Lastly, a sewage smell may develop around some (or all) of your drains.

These issues, however, may also be the result of improperly installed plumbing fixtures, issues with your ventilation pipe, or a clogged P-trap, which you should also investigate. If you’re unsure what’s causing the issue, then we recommend calling a plumber.

Conclusion: Finding Your Main Sewer Pipes

Finding your main sewer line can be an intimidating process, but with the right approach, it can be relatively simple. Using the methods above, we hope you find it swiftly and manage to fix any sewer main issues before they become larger problems. 

It’s always a good idea to seek professional help if you’re unsure how to locate and check the condition of your main sewer line. Doing so will help protect your property from wastewater damage due to backups or overflow and prevent any potential health hazards from arising.

If you’ve enjoyed our article or have any comments, suggestions, or questions, we’d love to hear from you!

About the author

An accomplished plumber with more than 15 years of experience in the industry, David "Fitz" Fitzgerald began as an apprentice and steadily worked his way up to become a fully licensed and certified master plumber.

With extensive training in all aspects of plumbing. David is well-versed in the installation, repair, and maintenance of plumbing systems, including pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and is able to troubleshoot and solve even the most complex plumbing issues.

He loves to share his wealth of knowledge and looks forward to engaging with the community here on No Hassle Plumbing.

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