How to Install Sewer Drain Lines


The plumbing industry uses a black, plastic pipe called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, abbreviated to ABS, as a standard building material for sewer and drain lines. Lengths of ABS pipe fit into connectors, referred to as fittings, to connect to one another and to create turns and angles. ABS makes sewer drain line installation simple—regular hand and power tools cut the pipes and glue connects the pipes. If you’re willing to jump in, you’ll easily learn to install sewer drain lines.

Things You'll Need

  • Chop saw
  • Emery cloth
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • ABS pipe and fittings
  • ABS glue
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Drill and screws
  • Hole saw
  • Attach a fitting to the main sewer drain line. Use a lint-free cloth to clean the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe. Unscrew the ABS glue can’s cap. A brush is attached to the underside of the cap. Lift the cap from the bottle, allow excess glue to drip into the can and spread a generous coating of glue on the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe. Push the fitting onto the pipe and rotate one quarter of a turn to spread the glue. Hold the fitting and pipe in place for 30 seconds and allow the glue to cure for ten minutes prior to handling.

  • Take measurements for the first length, or “run,” of pipe. Hold the next fitting down the drain line in place and use a pencil to mark the position at which the length of pipe will enter its opening. Use a pencil to mark this position on framing members, such as studs, or walls and wall sheathing. Hold a tape measure to the rim of the fitting installed in step 1 and stretch the tape measure to your mark. This measurement represents the length to which you must cut the first piece of pipe minus the portions of pipe that will enter the fittings. ABS fittings feature marks that indicate the position of a fully inserted pipe. Find these marks, measure them and add them to the length of your pipe.

  • Lay out and cut the pipe. Use a tape measure and pencil to the cut’s location on a length of pipe. Place the pipe beneath a chop saw’s blade and cut to length. Remove burrs and dust by running emery cloth and a lint free rag over cut edges.

  • “Dry-fit,” or attach without gluing, the pipe and fitting prior to applying glue and check its position to ensure the cut was correct. Place a level on top of the pipe to ensure that its final slope meets local code requirements—typically ¼ inch slope per foot. Take apart dry-fitted pipes and fittings, clean them and glue them as in step 1. Repeat the measurement, cutting and gluing process for successive runs of drain line.

  • To run drain lines through wooden framing members, use a hole saw to bore through wood at desired locations. Mark the desired center of a hole with a pencil, place the hole saw’s pilot bit on the mark and drill.

  • Secure pipes in position and support them from beneath using plumber’s tape. Strap plumber’s tape around drain lines, align the tape’s holes and place a screw through the aligned holes. Use a drill to fasten the screw and adjoined tape to walls, studs or sheathing.

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