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What is a Sewer? Understanding What a Sewer System Does and Why It Matters

a sewer system worker opening a sewer

Our homes rely on a complex network of pipes and drains to function properly. One crucial but often overlooked component of this system is the sewer line. While it may not be the most glamorous topic, understanding what a sewer is and how it works is essential for maintaining a healthy and functional home plumbing system. At Admiral Plumbing, we believe in empowering homeowners with knowledge, so let's delve into the world of sewers!

What is a Sewer?

In its simplest form, a sewer is a subterranean network of pipes that transport wastewater away from homes and buildings. This wastewater includes sewage (waste from toilets), graywater (used water from sinks, showers, and washing machines), and sometimes even rainwater (depending on the local sewer system design).

The Journey of Wastewater: From Your Home to a Treatment Plant

The journey of wastewater begins in your home. As you flush toilets, wash dishes, or take a shower, the used water travels down the drainpipes within your house. These drainpipes connect to a larger sewer line that runs underground beneath your property and eventually connects to the municipal sewer system.

The municipal sewer system is a vast network of pipes that collects wastewater from homes and businesses throughout a community. This network then transports the wastewater to a wastewater treatment plant.

wastewater treatment plant from an arial view

The Vital Role of Wastewater Treatment Plants

Wastewater treatment plants are the unsung heroes of our modern sanitation systems. These facilities play a critical role in protecting public health and the environment by treating wastewater before it is released back into the natural world.

The treatment process typically involves several stages:

  • Primary Treatment: This stage removes large solids and organic matter through physical processes like screening and settling.

  • Secondary Treatment: Here, bacteria and microorganisms are used to break down organic matter further. This stage significantly reduces the biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the wastewater.

  • Tertiary Treatment: This stage involves advanced purification techniques like filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet disinfection. These processes remove any remaining contaminants, bacteria, viruses, and pharmaceuticals, ensuring the treated wastewater meets environmental regulations before it is released.

Types of Sewer Systems

There are two main types of sewer systems:

  • Sanitary Sewer Systems: These systems are designed to carry only wastewater from homes and businesses. They are not intended to carry stormwater runoff from rain or melted snow.

  • Combined Sewer Systems: These older systems combine both sanitary wastewater and stormwater runoff in the same pipes. During heavy rain events, combined sewer systems can become overwhelmed, leading to overflows that can pollute rivers and streams.

The Importance of Maintaining Your Sewer Line

While the municipal sewer system is responsible for transporting and treating wastewater once it leaves your property, the sewer line on your property is your responsibility. Here are some reasons why maintaining your sewer line is important:

  • Prevents Backups: Regular maintenance, such as drain cleaning, can help prevent clogs and backups in your sewer line. Backups can be messy, disruptive, and pose a health risk.

  • Protects Your Property: A damaged sewer line can leak wastewater, causing damage to your foundation and landscaping.

  • Reduces Environmental Impact: A properly functioning sewer line helps ensure that wastewater is treated properly before it is released back into the environment.

Signs You May Have a Sewer Line Problem

If you experience any of the following, it could be a sign of a sewer line problem:

  • Slow drains: Drains that take a long time to empty could indicate a clog in your sewer line.

  • Sewage backups: If sewage backs up into your drains or overflows from toilets, it's a sign of a serious clog or blockage in your sewer line.

  • Foul odors: Sewer gasses can escape through cracks or breaks in your sewer line, causing unpleasant odors in your home.

  • Soggy patches in your yard: If you notice patches of soggy ground around your sewer line, it could be a sign of a leak.

Contact Admiral Plumbing for Sewer Line Maintenance and Repair

If you suspect you have a sewer line problem, it's important to contact a qualified plumber like Admiral Plumbing right away. We have the experience and expertise to diagnose and repair any sewer line issue, from simple clogs to complex replacements.

Don't wait until a sewer problem becomes a major headache! Contact us today at to schedule a sewer line inspection or repair. Admiral Plumbing Utah is committed to keeping your home's plumbing system functioning smoothly and efficiently.


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