Sewer Tie In

You might have received communication from your local municipalities notifying you of a new ordinance requiring you to abandon your septic tank system and to tie into the City sewer system. This means that your septic system will no longer be necessary and once the sewer tie in is complete, your sewage will flow out to the city sewer. The occurrence is becoming more common in Fresno and Madera Counties as city lines are expanding into what were once rural areas.

Sewer Tie In

What is a Sewer Tie In?

Sewer Tie In involves connecting the sewage line from the home to the sewage line for the city. A sewer mainline will need to be installed connecting the home to the city sewer line. Many times, this may be done in conjunction with a septic line abandonment as city services expand to what were once rural areas. Depending on your area, a permit may be required for this process.

sewer tie in
Sewer tie in junction.

How do I do a Sewer Tie In?

Because of the complexity and the use of public services, there are many codes and regulations specific to each municipality that must be followed to complete this process. For the sewage to flow correctly, the pipe must be graded properly. This allows gravity to feed the sewage to the city line. If there is not proper grading, or too many turns in the line, it may require the use of a pump. A sewer tie in is best completed by a licensed plumbing company, and this may be a requirement of your municipality.

How to do a sewer tie in
Accessing the city main line for sewer tie in.

What is the cost of a Sewer Tie In?

Because of the codes and regulations, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to access the city sewer lines under the street, a proper sewer tie-in can be quite costly. Estimates range from $5,000-12,000. Thankfully, many municipalities offer rebates, grants and other programs to help offset the cost. Contact your local municipality to find out what programs may be offered.

In most cases the city will extend their sewer piping system, furnishing the capability for property owners to tie into the sewer line. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to furnish the labor and materials on their property to tie into the sewer line. You will also need to pay connection fees. As these are extensive projects, unfortunately they tend to be costly.

new main line for sewer tie in
New sewer mainline for a city sewer tie in.

What are factors that affect the cost of my Sewer Tie In?

If you are wondering why hooking up to the city sewer line is such a large investment, the factors that make the project so costly and extensive include:

  • Permits and sewer connection fees.
  • The length of sewer mainline that needs to be installed. This includes labor and materials.
  • Trenching – the ground where the pipe is to be laid will need to be unearthed. You will want to consider the difficulty of the dig, like is there concrete in the way or landscaping or shrubbery. The depth of the dig will be considered as well as whether the labor is all by hand or an excavator is being used.
  • Backflow preventer, which ensures the wastewater flows with ease toward the sewer line and prevent it from backing up. This is usually and add-on option.
  • Sewer clean out – which is an access point to tap into the sewer mainline for future repairs and backups. Plumbers will be able to run a snake cable or sewer line camera from the sewer clean out. If you do not have one and experience a clog you the plumber will need to pull a toilet or snake from the roof which is usually more expensive.
  • Paving & concrete work – repaving or pouring concrete for torn up driveways and sidewalks and the amount used affect the cost of the project.
  • Clean up – this is the final phase of the project. The cost of cleaning up the area, and replanting grass or any other vegetation and trees that have been removed will need to be replaced.
cost factors of sewer tie in
Trenching sewer main line to connect to city sewer.

Why am I being required to do a Sewer Tie In?

There is a wide array of reasons that cities are expanding their sewer lines to properties that are serviced by septic systems. City boundaries are growing around Fresno and Madera counties, and as agricultural land is getting developed a lot of these properties are getting annexed into the city. This means what was once zoned as a county property is now rightfully part of the city dividing line. As building departments require these new developments to tie into the city sewer, the existing properties around these new developments will need to tie in as well.

It is becoming more common for larger homes to be built on smaller lots. These smaller lots do not have the capacity to cope with a septic system as there is not enough space to install one. Some existing septic systems do not have the space to install a new one as current one ages out and eventually fails. If a property owner does not have the space to install a new septic system, there needs to be a resolution. The resolution is for the city to expand its sewer lines creating the ability for the property owner to do a sewer tie in and have functioning plumbing.

Also, often times environmental contamination can occur as septic systems are put under pressure and no longer effective. This poses public and environmental health hazards. This may contribute to the need to tie in to the local city sewer line.

sewer tie in close up
Close up view if a sewer tie in junction.

What are the pros and cons of doing a Sewer Tie In?

There are definitely positive and negative aspects to joining your local city sewer line. Some of the benefits include:

  • No longer need to pay for septic tank services.
  • You will not need to worry about installing a new septic system in the future.
  • Issues that arise on the City maintained side of the sewer system will be corrected by the municipality.
  • You now have a more reliable sewer system that is easier to maintain than a septic system.
  • Your sewer system is now connected to one large drain field maintained by your municipality.

Of course, you will run into a few drawbacks now that you are part of the sewer system. Cons to consider are:

  • The initial costs and fees to abandon the septic tank system and complete the sewer tie in.
  • It is your financial responsibility to maintain the sewage piping on your side of the property. This means that if there are back ups, breaks or root intrusions you will need to hire a plumber to fix the issue at hand.
benefits of doing a sewer tie in
There are definitely positive and negative aspects to joining your local city sewer line.

What are common sewer line repairs?

Sometimes, the sewer pipes belonging to the homeowner may require repair. Here are some common problems, prevention and solutions:

Broken, Dislodged, or Crushed Pipes

This can be caused when a heavy object impacts the pipes below, causing them to become crushed. This may also be caused by roots from trees and shrub, which can be quite strong and may infiltrate your sewer pipes. If this happens, it may cause sewage to seep in to your land. Depending on the situation, options for repair include water jet, simple spot repair, or a total sewer replacement. Sewer line cameras can help to diagnose the cause. As a preventive measure, make sure to consider placement of trees and shrubs whose roots may damage your sewer line.

Fat, Oil or Grease Blockages

Fats, oils and grease go down the drain as a liquid, but as they travel through the home’s sewer system, they begin to harden. Over time, enough grease can accumulate to create a stoppage. When this happens, typically a powerful water jet will clear the issue. To avoid this problem, dispose of fats, oils and grease in to the trash instead of the drain. If you have recurring stoppages, it may be due to a “back-pitched” pipe (too many turns) or faulty installation. See below for more information.

Faulty Installation / Back-Pitched Pipe

If your sewer line was installed with too many turns, this may interrupt the natural flow of gravity to the city line and create unnecessary blockages. In some cases, a spot repair may solve the problems. However, a complete relaying of the pipe may be necessary to achieve the proper grading and flow.

Sewer line repair
Sewer line repairs exposing major root intrusion, sewer line section was replaced.

What happens to my septic system now that I have connected to the sewer?

During the process of connecting to the sewer, your septic system will need to be abandoned. This can also be referred to as decommissioning your septic tank. Digging up and removing the septic system is costly and rarely done.

The piping will no longer be used will remain buried. A new sewer mainline will be installed to connect to the city sewer. When a septic tank is decommissioned, it is usually filled with sand or concrete and reburied.

septic tank abandonment
Septic tank being emptied completely before being abandoned.