Understanding What A Sewer Lateral Is So That You Can Maintain It

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When we moved into a more rural part of the country, I was surprised by how many things were different. In addition to having a septic tank, we also had a water well that we had to figure out how to service. However, we quickly learned everything we needed to know, and before I knew it, I was moving in to a place that I felt really good about. Now I can see that all of those little services are a serious benefit, since they help to reduce our monthly costs. Read more on this website about protecting your home and using off-the-grid technologies like septic tanks.

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Understanding What A Sewer Lateral Is So That You Can Maintain It

26 February 2019
 Categories: , Blog


Did you ever wonder how all of your waste gets to the city sewers? A lot of people tend to think that when they flush a toilet or send something down a drain hole it goes down a sewer stack directly into the sewers below. That is only half right.

The waste goes from your home (or business) into a long section of pipe that slopes downward away from your property and to the sewers underneath the nearest city street. This section of pipe is called a sewer lateral, or lateral line. This vital piece of plumbing is responsible for transporting all human waste and gray water away from your home/business property and into the sewers. If it becomes damaged, clogged, etc., all kinds of smelly and awful problems ensue. To better understand this pipeline, and to know how to maintain its functionality, the following is provided. 

Problems for the Lateral Line

​Think of the lateral line as your "plug-in" to the city sewer system. If you could lift your home straight out of the ground with all of the pipes and whatnot still attached, the lateral line forms a sort of capital L-shaped pipe that leads downward at a slightly greater than ninety-degree angle and plugs into the giant city sewer pipe running under the street in front of your home. A lot of things can go wrong with this pipe, which almost always leads to sewage backed up into your basement. 

Here is the short list of common lateral line problems:

  • ​Tree roots wrapping around the lateral line and damaging it, causing it to leak or be pulled out of position. Trees in your front yard or trees in your neighbor's yard that are really close to the property line cause these problems.
  • Low points in the line, which are caused when the ground shifts underneath and allows for a section of the lateral line to drop slightly out of position with the rest of the line. Old age (i.e., when a pipeline is really, really old) can cause this dip too.
  • Flushing things you should never flush and creating a clog. This includes baby diapers, tampons, maxi pads, paper towel, nose tissues, "flushable" baby wipes, baby wipes, etc.

​When you know what the causes are and how much damage these causes will cost you to fix (especially on a weekend!), you are more apt to do everything necessary to maintain your lateral line, including using sewer lateral compliance services. If you suspect you have an issue with your sewer lateral, call a service today to check on the functionality of your property's lateral line.