Helpful Sewer Repair Definitions

Helpful Sewer Repair Definitions


New cleanout installation for homeowner's new side sewer system
New installed for homeowner to gain access to side sewer system.
Backwater and cleanout access for side sewer system.
Notice the two vertical pipes? The larger one is for a backflow valve and the other is called a cleanout.

A cleanout is an access point into the sewer line itself.  Cleanouts can be readily accessible or buried.  Cleanouts vary in size and depths based on the length of the size sewer system.

Drain snake:

A sewer snake or drain snake is an apparatus used to clear sewer lines.  Smaller versions of these snakes are also used to clear clogs in sinks, tubs and water closets and can be manually powered while their larger counterparts are powered with electricity.  See also sewer snake.

Sanitary Tee:

Sanitary tee’s are sewer pipe fittings that resemble the capital letter T.  These fittings are used in DWV sanitary sewer systems. (DWV stands for Drain-Waste-Vent).

Sewer inspection camera:

Sewer inspection camera screen shows video image, in real time, of side sewer line.
Side sewer camera screen showing homeowner condition of side sewer.

A sewer inspection camera is a specialized camera used for ‘scoping’ or videoing  sewer pipes or lines.  Common in both municipal and private sewer systems, these cameras can locate sewer pipe problems and assess the overall condition of the sewer system. The modern sewer inspection camera can not only video sewer pipes, but can also determine depths, locations and directions of sewer pipes.  These advanced features allow the sewer inspection technician to offer precise location of breaks, clogs and defects allowing the property owner significant savings compared to using measuring tapes and faded maps that used to be the norm.  Gone are the days of guessing sewer pipe locations and pigeon-holing someone’s yard until the actual location was found.

Sewer line:

A pipe that carries effluent discharge from a building to either a septic system or to a municipal sewer main. Also called, side sewer or lateral.

Sewer pipe types:

Sewer pipe types vary by system age, flow rates and pressures and interior or exterior uses.  Inside of the building envelope, pipe types can vary from PVC to ABS.  In the past, cast iron, Orangeburg, clay, concrete and copper have been utilized in sanitary sewer systems.

Sewer Snake:

A sewer snake or drain snake is an apparatus used to clear sewer lines.  Smaller versions of these snakes are also used to clear clogs in sinks, tubs and water closets. See also Drain Snake.

Side Sewer:

A side sewer is a term used to describe the sanitation pipe from a building to a sewer main.  These can be both public municipal or private sewer systems. Also called sanitary sewer or later.


A Wye is a type of drainage pipe fitting used to join two separate lines in the horizontal runs of sewer systems without impeding or interrupting effluent flows.

Septic System Terms

Parts of the Septic System, Pressurized and Non-pressurized

Distribution Box:

Drain Field:

Inspection Port:

Junction Box:

Septic Tank:

Septic Tank Lid(s):


Tank Abandonment:

A process of eliminating the use of a septic tank.  Normally done when a building is connected to a municipal sewer line.  In tank abandonment, the tank is collapsed or filled with rock or some type of fill material.  The reason the tank is collapsed or filled solid is to avoid future liability issues with people and animals falling into the no longer used tanks.  Some of these tanks are quite large and deep.