Should You Replace Your Clay Sewer Pipes?

Clay Sewer Pipes

In the earliest days of plumbing systems, clay sewer pipes were the go-to material. It remained a popular choice for city plumbing and drainage systems all the way through the early 1900s. Given the rise of sturdier and more cost effective pipe materials in the modern age, is there any reason to stick with clay sewer pipes? We’ll break down the pros and cons.

Are Clay Sewer Pipes Still Used Today?

While the type of clay and the way it is made have changed over time, clay sewer pipes are still routinely used in modern sewer systems. In some cases, clay pipes will be used in conjunction with other materials, such as concrete, to protect them from environmental factors such as root intrusion or ground shifting.

Pros & Cons of Clay Sewer Pipes

Since clay is an ancient substance, most people assume that modern plumbing materials would be the much better choice. Surprisingly, clay pipes still function very well when compared to modern materials. However, there are many drawbacks to clay sewer pipes that usually make modern materials the better option. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of clay pipes.


  • Refurbishment – Clay pipes can be refurbished to like new condition using trenchless technology, which is less expensive and less obtrusive then open excavation practices. Whichever scenario is needed – replacing or rehabilitation – NAP can certainly provide that service.
  • Environmentally friendly – All the ingredients are organic which makes it the the “greenest” plumbing material.
  • Unaffected by acids – Unlike iron pipes which are subject to acidic decay, clay is impervious to corrosive and acidic wastewater. Clay pipes can last for a long time if tree root damage and ground shifting can be avoided.


  • Difficult to work with and handle – PVC is lightweight and has smooth surfaces which make it easy to connect and move into place.
  • Susceptible to root damage and leaks – Tiny tree roots can easily get into cracks and crevices of clay pipes, which can result in costly damage.
  • Cannot adjust or bend – Clay pipes are less strong than newer materials and are more prone to being crushed or snapping with even a small amount of pressure.

Contact North American Pipeline

If you have clay pipes and they are still functioning without any problems, you don’t necessarily need to update to a modern material. However, if you are experiencing issues or just feel like it is the time to upgrade, contact NAP today to discuss our services.