What material types are used for sewer pipes?

What material types are used for sewer pipes?

What are sewer pipes and where do they go?

Wastewater pipes are pipes that carry wastewater from a property to the source of disposal. The source of disposal may be different depending on where the property is located relative to major urban centres, but for most people the source of disposal is a bigger ‘trunk main’ pipe that eventually leads to a sewage treatment plant or ocean outfall. Because these pipes manage wastewater from every property, they are under the ground almost everywhere people live. There is an estimated 11 billion metres (36 billion feet) of wastewater pipes in the world. That’s a lot of pipe! 

inside sewer pipe

What are sewer pipes made of?

With so much pipe being put in the ground, what are they actually made of? Well, it depends. Depending on the use of the pipe, and the design of the installation, different materials can be considered. For example, pipes that are used for collecting wastewater from residential dwellings can be small diameter and the pipe can be made from a variety of flexible plastics. However, pipes that are large diameter trunk mains are more likely made of stronger materials such as concrete or HDPE. 

pvc sewer pipe

What are the other different sewer pipe materials?

If you’re looking for some great information and data to answer this question, the US EPA has a useful fact sheet on the common pipe construction and materials here. There is also a data breakdown of pipe materials in sewer pipes in a previous post that we did here. From the dataset that we analysed, the most common pipe material for sewer pipes was vitrified clay, followed by concrete, then by flexible plastics. Vitrified clay was popular because it was a cost-effective solution. More recently, flexible plastics are more common in new installations, so over time we will likely see the percentage of sewers in the ground that are plastic increase. 

About the Author

Amanda Siqueira is an Australian civil and environmental engineer who has worked in design, construction and remediation of drainage and sewer pipes in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. She has passion for all things pipes and is also one of the Co-founders of VAPAR.

Experience the future of pipe condition assessments.

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