Sewer Line Excavation Process

sewer line excavation process

Many homeowners look at their home as an island, isolated from their surroundings. However, the power, internet, and other utilities are piped in, and some literally in pipes. Buried under the surface of every home’s lawn are utility pipes. One of the critical ones is the sewage line. While some connect to septic tanks and fields, a majority of homes pipe directly to the sewer mains through sewer lines. This article covers the sewer line excavation process. We focus on the necessary excavation and the cooperation between plumbing and excavation contractors to accomplish it.

Reasons for Digging Up Sewer Lines

Sewer lines are installed or repaired when there is no sewage system in place or the current system will no longer work.

New Home

Most modern homes will require a sewer line connection. Commonly these lines are installed at the same time water, natural gas and any other below-ground lines are installed.


The most common need for a new sewer line is wear and tear or damage to the existing line. If a single section is damaged, that part can be replaced. However, as a cost-saving measure, the entire line is dug out and replaced to eliminate future sewer line excavation requirements.

Septic System Transition

A change from a septic tank and field to the city sewer system might be required by municipal rules. In some cases, your home may just need to make the transition. This is especially true if the current septic system needs replacement.

Troubleshooting Issues Before Digging

Both the homeowners and consulting plumbers should take the time to make sure the issue is related to a pipe failure instead of a blockage. Standard chemical and mechanical cleaning of the pipes should be performed first unless there are obvious signs of pipe failure. Sewage spillage in the home or lawn would indicate such a failure.

The other most common issue with damage to pipes is from tree roots. If there is only a partial blockage, copper sulfate can be used to kill the tree root if caught early enough. Note that this only delays the issue and the pipe will need to be repaired in the future.

Sewer Line Excavation Process

The process to install, replace, and repair these lines generally requires excavation. An open cut trench is the most common type of evacuation for lateral sewer connections. This type of excavation cuts directly down over each pipe (or location for new pipe), allowing it to be exposed for inspection and replacement or repair. Open cut trenching repair can be as simple as backfilling and covering it with sod depending on the area to be excavated. Or in some cases, it might need to cut concrete and then refill with compacted stone or sand to avoid settling.

Sewer line excavation requires the cooperation between plumbing and excavation contractors like New England Enterprises. Serving Central and Eastern Massachusetts, we work with plumbing, electrical, construction, and general contractors as well as directly with businesses and homeowners for projects from foundation and utility excavation to patios and landscaping. If you’re looking for experts in excavation and landscaping, with the tools and experience to handle projects of any size, contact New England Enterprises.