How to Cut Underground PVC Pipe to Check for Sewage Problems

A man cuts a PVC pipe.
  • 1-3 hours
  • 20-50
What You'll Need
PVC cutters
Shovel or trowel
T fittings

Sometimes, you may find that you have problems with your sewage pipe, and be anxious to know how to cut PVC pipe which is beneath the ground. This is not an easily solved problem, as you may imagine, and many times when people try and cut their PVC sewage pipe, they find that they have accidentally severed a gas main or an electric cable. Using a hacksaw is one mistake that you should try and avoid as these saws will not easily cut below the ground. Taking the time to cut your PVC pipe yourself is not easy but it can save you money and help you to avoid calling out a professional.

Step 1 - Check the Pipe

Before you remove any soil, or cut through the pipe, it is a good idea to check either end of it to make sure that there is not a build up of pressure. If your pipe is blocked for any reason, then making a cut through the PVC pipe can release the blockage out the area of least resistance, in this instance right near your face and body. Only if you are sure that you are not going to be exposed to sewage should you cut through the pipe. It is also a good idea to have an emergency back up plan (way of stopping the flow, emergency plumber phone number), just in case the worst happens.

Step 2 - Prepare the Ground

Before you start trying to cut through the pipe, it is a good idea to remove as much of the soil on either side as you can. Cut the soil on each side of the pipe until the pipe is exposed, down to around 5 feet. You should then be able to lift the pipe up in the soil enough to get a supporting joint fitted. This will help you when you come to repair the pipe after cutting.

Step 3 - Use a Pipe Cutter

Use a cutting tool such as a pipe cutter. These have a very sharp, clean-cut blade which will allow you to completely cut through the pipe in one, without having to hack at it. You can find them in long-handled versions, which might be preferable since you are cutting through a sewage pipe. Take your cutter, and place it against the pipe. Push down into the soil until you feel the pipe, and then press down quickly and firmly. The pipe should be severed instantly.

Step 4 - Alternative Options

If you don't have a pipe cutter, you should find some cotton twine string, and slide this underneath the pipe. Pull both ends backwards and forwards, allowing you to cleanly cut through the pipe. You will need to use twine, as synthetic string will not allow you to make the cut. It will just melt due to friction.