I had a leak in my piping, I fixed it and I'm going to cover it with soil. My concern is that somebody can walk over this spot when it's underground. Can pipe elbows break in that case and how can I avoid that? (I also have copper to pvc coupling there, which may not be that flexible) enter image description here

  • How far beneath the surface?
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 4, 2020 at 21:34
  • 1
    You've got to make sure the dirt is hard packed underneath the pipes so they dont have room to settle. I assume the burial depth will be below the frost line for your area... and sufficient fill above them to protect them from foot traffic. If you get the dirt very well compact acted above and below, even 10" is protected (in so Az my frost line is just 5")
    – mark f
    Oct 4, 2020 at 21:40
  • If an option I would put sand under and around the pipe. It's a tight area to try and pack dirt. It's not right vs wrong. It's just a slightly easier to compact option. Oct 5, 2020 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


Add loose soil then carefully compact next to and under the pipes. Repeat until you have compacted soil fully supporting the pipes from underneath. Then add soil in batches compacting each batch with your feet or with a manual compactor plate on a shaft.

The purpose of this procedure is to avoid leaving uncompacted soil underneath and beside the pipes. Uncompacted soil below or even on the same level as the pipes would compact over time and exert a bending moment on the pipes which could cause a break. Uncompacted soil above the pipes will eventually compact but will not stress the pipes.

  • 2
    I'll just add that it can be VERY difficult to get good soil compaction in a case like this that will prevent the area from settling and putting stress on the pipes. You might consider filling the area below and at the level of pipes with pea gravel, which will support the soil on top of it without subsiding.
    – jwh20
    Oct 4, 2020 at 22:46
  • 1
    Pea gravel still has voids around each pebble, which eventually will fill in over time allowing settlement to occur. It may only happen a little, but it may be enough to cause concern. Sand may be a better alternative than pea gravel. When moist, not wet, it packs readily. Though typically well packed soil has always been my choice. it is already there, and it is free.
    – Jack
    Oct 4, 2020 at 22:57
  • 1
    I forgot to note that when using pea or other types of gravel, it's best to cover it with an infiltration barrier fabric to prevent that from happening.
    – jwh20
    Oct 5, 2020 at 0:27
  • 1
    @Jack the gaps will fill but the pea gravel itself will not shift much as free space is being filled. So movement will only occur above the pipes, which is fine. It's an expensive solution, though.
    – TylerH
    Oct 5, 2020 at 14:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.