Is Trenchless Sewer Replacement a Good Idea?

When a home’s plumbing system is well maintained, it will generally function well, and for the long term. While indoor plumbing wears slowly and may only require plumbing pipe repair from time to time, the sewer line that runs from your house to the city sewer line is under constant attack by the forces of nature. The need for sewer repair or pipe repair of the sewer line can happen in any home. If your home was built more than fifteen or twenty years ago, the materials used in your sewer line may be more fragile than you know.

How Can I Tell My Sewer Line Needs Repair?

  • If your sewer line is chronically clogged, the line is probably breached in one or more areas with tree or shrub roots.
  • A persistent sewage smell on the front lawn. Tree roots or shifts in the ground have cracked the pipe and it is permanently leaking in at least one spot.
  • Sunken areas of the lawn around the sewer line. When a pipe leaks, it erodes the earth around the pipe causing dips in the ground or sinkholes.
  • Your neighbor’s houses have had a sewer line problem that required repair.

Our Benjamin Franklin team of professionals can do an in-pipe video inspection of the line that will discover the problem and assess the condition of the sewer pipe. This inspection does not involve digging up your yard and takes only minutes. Know before you go!

Types of Sewer Line Pipes

When your house was inspected before purchase, one of the systems that were not checked was likely the sewer line from your home to the city pipe. Typically, only the wastewater flow rate is checked, not the actual condition of the sewer pipe.

Older houses have older sewer line pipe materials and have had many years of wear. In the Bay Area, earthquakes, vibrations from traffic or construction put constant stress older sewer pipes. Even a new home may have had the sewer line connected to older existing pipes.

Sewer Line Pipe Types and Problems

Some pipe materials that may make up your sewer line include:

  • Clay pipes. While a clay pipe resists chemical degeneration well, its porous surface makes it a target for tree roots seeking water and nutrients inside the sewer line. Once those roots penetrate, the pipe is compromised, and you eventually just need to cut out clogging roots with an auger. Clay pipes are also known for cracking from shifting soil or pressure on the surface of the lawn.
  • Cast-iron pipe. Very strong and can withstand a great deal of pressure, but can rust over time, often from the inside out – causing sudden collapse and clogging.
  • PVC and ABS plastic pipe. This material is in common use today. They have smooth interiors for good waste flow but are subject to breakage.

The Pros and Cons of Trenchless Sewer Lines Repair

If your sewer line needs repair, it cannot be put off. Not only will it continue to clog the plumbing system in your house, with serious problems such as sewage backing up into your home, but continued leakage in the yard may also extensive damage to municipal property for which the city will send you a bill – a big one.

If the sewer line is breached or collapsed in only one place, it may be suggested down to that one spot and replace that section. This is not a smart solution. If the line has been damaged in one place, it is just the beginning. You do not want the headache and expense of repeating this operation several times and then eventually having to replace the entire line.

We find that the pros of a trenchless sewer replacement far outweigh the one apparent con which is a higher upfront cost than doing a trench pipe repair. But the difference in cost is slight, easily balanced when you consider your other options.

  • Pro: Trenchless sewer replacement is faster than traditional repair. Because the traditional method disrupts the surface of the lawn over the sewer line, the plumber has to assess what will be damaged and needing repair, such as trees, shrubs, sod, walkways, driveway pavement or cobblestone, etc. Traditional can take more than a week and can easily exceed labor estimates. Trenching alone may take two days. A trenchless repair takes only a day in many cases and does not have the added expense of restoring your property after digging.
  • Pro: Trenchless technology comes in two types so your needs can be closely tailored. Lateral pipe lining or cured-in-place piping will reline your existing pipe and sealing cracks and gaps with a layer of epoxy resin. If your line has collapsed or has some severe damage, a new line is run through the damaged line.
  • Con: Trenchless costs a little more than traditional repair, but the hidden costs in traditional repair that do not apply to trenchless: Unanticipated complications, additional labor for pipe removal, damage to the area over sewer line, moving shrubs or trees or pavement in the way, etc. there may also be an environmental/health costs.
  • Pro: trenchless pipe repair can last an average life expectancy of over 50 years.

Why You Should Call Ben Franklin Plumbing for Your Trenchless Sewer Replacement

Replacing a sewer line with a trenchless repair is very cost-effective. Our team of qualified plumbing technicians from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in the Bay Area is very familiar with your neighborhood and services the entire area. We know the soil conditions and the relative ages of the sewer lines in the region. Our multiple point inspection will quickly and precisely identify the issues you are having with your sewer lines and repair it quickly and effectively.