How to Replace Clay Sewer Tile


Replacing clay sewer tile can be done in several ways. Digging up the entire length of pipe and replacing it with PVC drain pipe is one way. Opening both ends of the sewer line and inserting PVC pipe or a plastic fiberglass liner through the center of the existing pipe is another way. A third way is to send cameras into the pipe and locate the problem area, dig up that portion of clay line and replace it with clay or PVC pipe. The third option would only be used in historically protected areas or where damage to trees or surface materials is a high priority.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pipe coupling adapter
  • PVC pipe
  • Pipe solvent
  • Decide how much of the pipe you want to replace. Dig down and uncover that section of the pipe. If inserting PVC into the center of existing clay pipe, uncover only the end locations of the existing pipe. Remove enough dirt to allow room for inserting the PVC pipe. The inside of the existing pipe must be free from roots or debris. This may require a plumbing contractor outfitted with a root removal system.

  • Connect the PVC near the house and the main sewer line with an adapter coupling. The PVC pipe and the clay pipe will be different diameters and require an adapter at the connection. Flexible rubberized adapters with stainless steel circular clamps are easy to install and will work fine for many years.

  • Cover the pipe and resurface the area. Maintaining the proper slope of the drain pipe is critical to avoid future drain clogs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with local building ordinances for proper connections allowed at the sewer main.
  • Replace as much of the clay sewer tile as possible to avoid future problems with root intrusion and other clogs.
  • Always take safety precautions and wear proper safety equipment while using hand tools.
  • Follow all local building codes for plumbing installations.

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  • Photo Credit Concrete Pipe image by bayu harsa from
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