I have a sewer line that is clay pipe. The cleanout got hit by a mower a while back and has cracked (see image below). My original plan was to dig down to the next section of pipe (looks like about 3 feet) and then use one of these (https://a.co/d/dIiHnO0) to connect to PVC to get to the surface.

Unfortunately, there is a tree near by and a significant number of rather large roots are making digging difficult. Furthermore, since the flange end is up (see image), I suspect it would be on the top of the next section also. This would seem to indicate that I would need an adapter that fits with the flange.

My thought for an easier alternative is to cut the clay pipe closer to the surface. This would let me use the linked adapter as well as significantly reduce the digging effort. I'm just not sure of the proper way to cut clay pipe...especially while in the ground.

Image of clay pipe cleanout

  • 1
    A masonry or diamond tip blade should cut it, but unless very lucky, the crack/s probably go far down, maybe all the way to the end of that section.
    – crip659
    Oct 7, 2023 at 15:00
  • You'll only need access from 3 sides to successfully cut it. Just pinch your kerf shut for the the last 2" or 3" and it'll break nice and straight. Your cut off piece should remain nice and solid. If not, then go deeper.
    – popham
    Oct 7, 2023 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


An angle grinder with a dry diamond blade, while wearing eye, hearing, and breathing protection is my usual method of choice these days.

A hacksaw with a "grit-edge" tungsten carbide blade may suit better if you don't have an angle grinder handy. I've sawed all sorts of obnoxious materials with that setup - plate glass, tiles, steel too hard for a normal hacksaw blade to cut... It's far less expensive to buy if you don't already have it, and takes up less space in the house waiting for the next job. You can probably also skip most of the personal protection equipment, though a dust mask would still be wise.

If your tool rental place has a hydraulic chain type pipe cutter, those are rated for both clay and cast iron. The manual versions would (at least the ones I've found) require elongating the hole significantly in one direction for the handles, but the hydraulic version is quite compact. I'd consider the price prohibitive unless you can rent one. Those wrap a chain with cutter wheels around the pipe, and then tighten the chain to force the wheels in, which will break brittle materials cleanly without needing to rotate the cutter.

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