Plumbing

Waste System

Waste System

The waste system in your home consists of vents and larger diameter cast iron or plastic piping whose job it is to remove waste water once it has been used.
The waste lines collect the drain water from all the home’s sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and ice makers and through a series of connected piping, deliver it to the municipal sewer line or to a septic tank system located on your property.
image of dissolved iron waste system pipe damaged by drain cleaner
Waste line dissolved by drain cleaner
Almost all waste system pipes and lines are designed to work on a gravity basis where the downward slope of the pipe is the only power needed to move the waste water out of the house. Some homes with basements or houses where the septic lines are uphill from the home incorporate sewage ejectors that move (via pumps) the wastewater to the sewer or septic tank as needed. In cases where a sewage ejector is used, maintenance of the ejector and its power supply is critical.
Vents are the mysterious little pipes that you see up on your roof that are counterintuitively exposed and uncovered to the elements. It is OK that these are open and exposed because they are connected to the waste lines. Vents serve to allow air into and out of the drain system thus enabling smooth drainage and directing all kinds of bad odors up and away from the house. There are a lot of building codes that determine details about where vents must be located and how many, but essentially this is all you as a homeowner really need to know about vents.

To-Do

  • Locate your main sewer line and find the clean outs along the route.
  • If your home has a crawl space, have the main sewer line inspected to ensure it is strapped and sloped properly and there are no breaks or leaks in the line. Especially important to inspect are the connections of the sewer lines and the toilets which are visible at the underside of the subfloor. Any leaks or water damage in these locations are important to have repaired ASAP.
  • Professional plumbers have advised me that in the case of a city sewer connection that it is good practice to leave an exterior clean out cap unscrewed somewhere, between the house and the street so that in the event sewage backs up from the main city sewer line it will blow out of the unscrewed cap rather than flow into your home. YES, this can happen, and I think I agree with the professionals on this one. Better yet, I would leave the cap unscrewed off the most obvious clean out so that it will be noticed right away if there is an event like this./li>

Maintenance

  • 1x per year: Run water through the sewer clean outs to ensure the free flow of material.
  • 1x per 2 years: For those of you with septic tanks, every two years septic systems should have the leach fields rotated and every five years the tank should be pumped out and inspected.

Septic Systems

See Septic in Utilities
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