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What is a House Sewer?

By Kevin P. Hanson
Updated May 16, 2024
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A house sewer is the term given to the connection of the horizontal house drainage system to the public sewer. It is where all waste and soil pipes inside the home or building will ultimately discharge. The house drain extends through the foundation wall and continues from the main drain to where it enters a public sewer or cesspool.

Under most conditions, it is highly recommended that a house sewer drain be used to serve only one building. Large metro areas often have huge buildings that require two drains and sewers in order to manage the enormous amount of sewage created in them. Even in this case, the two sewer systems are completely separated according to whichever side of the building each serves.

Usually, the house drain stops about 10 feet (3.04 meters) outside the home’s foundation walls. It is here that it enters the house sewer, which is usually made out of vitrified earthenware pipe, although in some homes it may be constructed of cast-iron. Most plumbing ordinances prohibit the existence of earthenware piping anywhere inside the foundation walls, including any part of the drainage system. This is due to the fact that cement joints used in this version of piping are prone to crack or bust open. If that happens, sewage will leak out, causing unsanitary conditions.

The house connection typically extends only to the curb line, but in some cases it will continue to the fence line or to the house sewer at the wall of the foundation. The municipal authorities usually supervise this part of the drainage system. A plumber might be allowed access to it, but only if certain conditions are met and restrictions adhered to. Many cities have an appointed sewer inspector who is in charge of inspecting every part of the work done on the house connection.

In order to prevent the waste inside the street sewer from flowing back into the house sewer, it is recommended that the branch for the sewer water from the house enter the street sewer above the center at a high enough point to ensure that this will not happen. If the sewer is being flooded with sewage from the backing up of the street sewer, there is a good chance the house sewer will get plugged up with waste.

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Discussion Comments
By Rundocuri — On Jan 31, 2015

@spotiche5- I think that you should try calling your local city administration building or water department to find out what part of the sewer line is their responsibility. If your problem is in this location, someone from the water department should be able to send a crew to fix it or give you guidelines to tell your plumber.

You also might want to try getting different opinions from several plumbers. Some of them might be more informed about this type of house sewer issue than others, and will be able to give you clear advice.

By Spotiche5 — On Jan 31, 2015

How can you tell if a problem with a house sewer is in a location that is the responsibility of the municipality or the home owner? I am having a plumbing issue, but the plumber that I called wasn't sure how to answer my question. I don't want to spend more money than I have to on this repair, so I want to make sure I'm informed before I hire a professional to fix it.

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