How to Locate a Sewer Line: Three Steps

Locating a sewer line on your property is no mean task. Like with any form of utility location, doing it incorrectly can lead to financial consequences and injuries. Thankfully, the below steps will help streamline your process and prevent unnecessary risks.

1. Contact the City

Your city should have a zoning office or public works department (the name of the office may vary). This office may have documentation allowing them to locate your sewer line and identify where it connects to the city’s main line.

They can also tell you if it is a private sewer (i.e. a drain that connects a single property to other drains fulfilling similar functions) or a public sewer (i.e. one in which two or more drains from different properties converge). Some city websites also have an interactive underground utility map allowing you to locate the line yourself. However, not all cities and municipalities have this option.

2. Call 811

811 is a national call number that enables you to contact local utility companies before you begin your project. There are a couple of reasons that you should call 811 at this point.

You may find that these first two steps enable you to locate your sewer line and you do not take any further action before beginning your excavation. However, in some cases, these steps will not be enough to locate your sewer line. This is more likely if you are working on a private residential project, although other factors could make this difficult, as well.

3. Enlist the Help of a Professional

In addition to calling 811, it may be necessary to hire a professional to locate your sewage lines before you begin work. There are many advantages to doing this rather than purchasing the tools and using them yourself. Location professionals typically use a range of tools rather than just one (in our case, a line locator as well as ground-penetrating radar). To use these tools effectively you need to not only purchase them, but also be trained in how to use them effectively, and how to interpret data readings.

Hiring a location professional also offers some benefits, depending on the nature of your excavation, beyond the services a plumber will offer. Because we are utilizing more tools, we will also be able to locate obstacles in the soil beyond sewage lines, such as underground cables, post tension cables, and other objects buried beneath the ground.

Learn more about our utility location services here.