I had a contractor roll over a sewer cleanout with some heavy machinery. It looks like the contractor may have amnesia about the damage and reporting to his insurance, so I may be out of luck and need to repair this by myself. The broken piece is at the Y coupling (shown in red):

enter image description here

So the cleanout piece has completely shattered and can be removed easily. Digging the dirt away down to the y connector, the Y has cracked open and I can see into the sewage pipe (gross). From what I can tell, the pipes going in both directions away from the connector are very "snug" and immovable in the ground (at least, not with the equipment I have), so bending them enough to put on a new piece is probably not an option. I think I need an in-place way to replace this that doesn't require moving the existing pipes (a slide repair coupler?). Obviously I need to avoid step-ups or step-downs in flow so waste doesn't get trapped and collect.

Looking for suggestions.

  • 2
    Repairs to a sanitary sewer must pass an inspection. Hire a professional and threaten to sue the contractor in small claims court. Jun 22, 2020 at 21:34
  • I hate to say "lawyer up", but this may be a case for it. Get pics of tire tracks across the clean out (if it's not too late).
    – FreeMan
    Jun 23, 2020 at 12:29

2 Answers 2


You could dig down around the area and cut out the broken fitting. If you cut out wide enough you can install a new replacement fitting that has a stub of pipe sticking out each side that just fits down between the cut ends of the existing not movable pipe.

You can then use Fernco type couplers on each side to join the two stub pieces to the existing pipe. Note you will have to dig back far enough on the two ends of the existing pipe to be able to slip the couplers in place before putting the new fitting with stubs in place.

enter image description here

Picture Source

You want to make sure to use the type with stainless steel clamps to resist rusting and that have the metal shielding as shown above to resist the heavy earth load from above.


Safely accessing the pipe is the hardest part -- people die all the time by being buried by a sewer excavation cave-in.

You didn't mention the material of your pipe and fittings. I'll assume PVC because it's what I'm familiar with.

The repair is fairly easy. Buy a replacement wye and a no-hub rubber coupler. Cut the existing pipe on either the upstream or the downstream side a foot or so away from the existing wye. Lift the original wye and the stub of pipe out, assemble the pipe stub with the new wye and rubber coupler, then set it into place and tighten the band clamps on the coupler.


  • Avoid removing dirt beneath the pipe, and thoroughly compact the fill below and around the pipe when the joint is repaired. You don't want it settling and kinking or breaking your pipe in the future.
  • The sewer operator (municipality, sewer district, etc) may have jurisdiction to inspect the work. Check with them first to confirm whether any permit or inspection is required and to confirm that they will accept the repair parts you've found. Some operators may have preferences about the materials and methods they'll allow.
  • The rubber gasket on PVC fittings can be difficult to assemble when dry. You might buy a small pail of lubricant from the supply house, or find a rubber-safe alternative around the house. Don't use a petroleum-based lubricants like Vaseline because they will damage the rubber.
  • To help maintain sanitary working conditions down hole I suggest turning off the water supply to the house and also flushing the toilets to ensure their tanks are emptied. I'd prefer to deal with a toilet that's been used and couldn't be immediately flushed, rather than deal with a toilet that got flushed into my hole from whence the waste can't easily be evacuated!
  • Don't let soil and rocks fall into the open pipes.
  • for a lubricant liquid soap or kitchen detergent should be safe on the rubber.
    – Jasen
    Jun 23, 2020 at 9:01
  • +1 for starting with the safety warning! Last fall 2 people were trapped in a sewer excavation just a few miles from me. Fortunately, neither lost their lives, but they spent a fair bit of time in the hospital.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 23, 2020 at 12:27

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