Connecting to a Sewer System From Having a Septic Tank? Here’s How.

This is about the sewer system we thought the house was connected to when we decided to buy. We bought it to be used as a rental. The city even confirmed that the house was attached to city sewers. From the time we bought it, our tenants were assessed monthly sewer usage charges, so we never doubted it.

A couple of years went by until one day, our tenant called and said “the drains are not draining”. We called a plumber right away and he discovered that there was a septic tank in the back yard and that our house was hooked up to that septic tank, not the city sewer system. Imagine our surprise!

We had the septic tank pumped out and hoped that would solve the problem and it did for a while. But, our tenant continued, over the next couple of years, having problems with her toilets stopping up.

Finally, we decided that it was time to hook the house up to the city sewer since, it was right in front of the house. We only had to bring the pipe from the street to the house.

Here are the First Steps To Get Started

  1. Call the city utilities company to determine their requirements such as a connection fee. (Even if someone has been paying monthly usage fees all along, these fees are still usually steep.)
  2. Call three plumbing companies to get competing bids that do this type of work. Not all do and their estimates can vary wildly. Also, make sure you get references and call all of them!
  3. Make sure the plumbing company will coordinate with the city and be responsible for the entire job.
  4. After you have made your choice, you are ready to begin.

Make Sure the Plumber Does the Following

    • The plumber must call to have all the utilities marked before doing ANY digging. The city is to mark the EXACT location of the tap.
    • Now, he can start digging. Remember, the pipe should be kept as short and direct as possible. There should be nothing to cause blockage. The city will inspect the path and angle of the pipe (you do not want the liquids to run faster than the solids).
    • Next, connect to the city sewer.
    • Have all connections inspected by the city before filling in the hole.
    • Connect the house sanitation system to the new pipe.
    • Have the old septic tank pumped out, the tank crushed and filled with gravel. The same should be done for the drain field.
    • Back fill with dirt.
    • Have everything inspected again by the city.
    • Finally, pay the plumber. This is usually not cheap.

NOTE: The city required us to have seven visits/inspections total. Each city, town or municipality will have their own requirements.

We now have a happy tenant, even though all our profits for the past several years have now disappeared .

That’s all there is to connecting a residence to the city sewer system. Of course, the city sewer must be available .

Dave Altman

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