Clay or Terra Cotta Sewer Pipes?

Clay or Terra Cotta Sewer Pipes?

Thinking of upgrading your sewer line? Our plumbing expert shares what pipes are set for your plumbing system.

Many of the earliest plumbing systems were made with clay sewer pipes. The first known example of clay pipes dates back to 4000 BCE and clay remained a popular material for city plumbing and drainage systems through the 1900s. Clay was so popular because it was made from natural products and because it is largely unaffected by the corrosive nature of wastewater.

Cons of Clay Sewer Pipes

Modern day clay sewer pipes, also called terra cotta sewer pipes, are challenging to work with. There is an extensive process to create the pipes. The pipes are air dried for 24 hours and then fired in a kiln for 50 hours, creating a ceramic-like end product. The terra cotta sewer pipes are very difficult to work with. They are also expensive to transport due to them being heavy and fragile. 

Over time, the ground will move and shift, creating cracks and eventually break the clay sewer pipe. These cracks release moisture, which tends to attract tree roots.  Roots of trees can easily wreak havoc on terra cotta sewer pipes!

When to Repair or Replace Your Clay or Terra Cotta Sewer Pipes

There are things you can watch for to let you know it may be time to have your clay sewer pipes inspected for repair or replacement.  

  • Foul odor or standing water in your yard 
  • Gurgling sounds coming from the pipes in your home
  • Drain back ups

If your clay sewer pipes are clogged, a plumber may be able to open them with a drain machine or with a hydro-jet. A drain machine may be a good solution for clearing blockages such as paper, build ups, or foreign objects. If the blockage is too much for a drain machine, a hydro-jet may be recommended. A hydro-jet is a method of sewer cleaning using high pressure water. A flexible hose with a specialized nozzle sprays water through the pipes and pressure washes the inner walls of the clay sewer pipe.

Depending on the severity of the problem, your terra cotta sewer pipes may need to be replaced. A licensed plumber can direct you with the most efficient, reliable, and affordable option for your sewer line replacement.