Understanding Sewer Lines
Sewer lines are underground pipes responsible for transporting all the wastewater and sewage from our homes and businesses to our city’s main sewer line.
But how do these work? When you flush the toilet, take a shower, or wash dishes, the used water and waste go down the drain and into the sewer line. From there, it travels through a system of underground pipes and is eventually treated and released back into the environment.
Properly functioning sewer lines and regular maintenance are essential for public health and safety. This is because they help prevent the spread of disease and contamination of our water sources.
What Is Trenchless Sewer Replacement?
In trenchless sewer replacement, the plumbers replace damaged sewer lines without excavating a large trench in your yard (or property). Instead, they use specialized equipment, such as hydraulic machines and cameras, to create a new pipe within the old one. The techniques used for this process include pipe bursting, slip lining, and cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) lining.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Trenchless Sewer Repair?
Pros of Trenchless Sewer Repair
Saves Your Hard-Earned Dollars
The number of laborers required for digging a trench for sewer line replacement (traditional excavation method) depends on several factors, including:
- the length and depth of the trench,
- the size of the sewer line,
- and the equipment being used.
Generally, a small trench for a residential sewer line replacement may require one or two laborers, while a more extensive project may require several more.
However, trenchless sewer line replacement eliminates the need for extensive digging, reducing the required labor and, consequently, the labor cost. Further, it requires less equipment, which reduces the cost of machinery rental and operation.
Helps You Achieve More in Less Time
Traditional excavation methods require digging up the entire length of the sewer line, which can take days or even weeks to complete.
In contrast, trenchless methods require only a few small access holes to be dug, which can be completed in just a few hours.
Another factor contributing to the speed of trenchless sewer line replacement is advanced technology and specialized equipment. This includes pipe bursting, pipe lining, or slip lining to replace or repair the sewer line.
Easy on Your Premises
With traditional excavation methods, large trenches are dug in your yard to access the sewer line. This can damage your landscaping, driveway, lawn, and other parts of your property, leaving unsightly and costly repairs. 
On the other hand, trenchless sewer line replacement requires only a few small access holes to be dug. This means that your yard, landscaping, and other parts of your property remain primarily untouched, reducing the damage and disruption caused by the repair process.
Low Negative Impact on the Environment
Trenchless repairs are more environmentally friendly, as they minimize the amount of soil that needs to be displaced and reduce emissions from heavy machinery.
Resilient over Time
Trenchless repairs are designed to be durable and long-lasting, as the new pipe is created within the old one and is less prone to damage or leaks.
Cons of Trenchless Sewer Repair
Specific in Scope
If the existing sewer line has collapsed, is severely damaged, or is in a difficult location, trenchless methods may not be appropriate. Similarly, if it is very old or made of a material incompatible with trenchless methods (e.g. clay pipes), there may be other options than trenchless replacement.
Trenchless repairs can also be more challenging in certain areas, such as tight spaces or areas with complex underground structures.
In such cases, a professional plumber can help assess the situation and recommend the most appropriate course of action.
Demands Special Equipment
For example, pipe lining involves using specialized liner material, such as polyester or fiberglass, inserted into the existing pipe and cured in place, essentially creating a new, seamless pipe within the old one.
Slip lining involves a similar process but uses a pre-manufactured pipe section inserted into the old pipe and expanded to create a new, seamless pipe.
Other methods, such as pipe bursting, use specialized equipment to break up the existing pipe and pull a new one through the resulting void. This includes a bursting head, a conical tool attached to the new pipe and pulled through the existing pipe to break it apart. Other necessary equipment may include a hydraulic power pack, a pulling machine, and specialized rods or cables to guide the bursting head through the existing pipe.
Because of the specialized equipment required, trained professionals with the appropriate tools and experience typically perform trenchless sewer line replacement. You need to check if your chosen plumbing company has access to the necessary special equipment.
Choosing between Traditional Pipe Replacement and Trenchless Sewer Line Repair
When faced with a damaged sewer line, you must choose between traditional pipe replacement and trenchless sewer line repair. While both methods can be effective, there are significant differences to consider.
- Traditional pipe replacement involves digging a trench in your yard to access the damaged pipe and remove it, then laying new pipe and filling in the trench. This method can be effective but is also time-consuming, expensive, and can cause a significant amount of damage to your landscaping.
- Trenchless sewer line repair, on the other hand, involves using specialized equipment to create a new pipe within the existing damaged pipe. This is done by threading a flexible liner coated in resin through the existing pipe, which hardens in place to form a new pipe. This method is less invasive and can be completed in a shorter amount of time, with less damage to your property.
- Traditional pipe replacement may be necessary if the damage is extensive or if the existing pipe is made of materials unsuitable for trenchless repair.
- However, trenchless repair work is often more cost-effective and environmentally friendly and is a better choice for damage that is not extensive.
Ultimately, the choice between traditional pipe replacement and trenchless sewer line repair will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation. A qualified plumbing professional can determine which method is right for you.
How Do I Find a Contractor That Does Trenchless Sewer Repair?
To find a contractor that does trenchless sewer repair, search online for plumbing companies in your area that offer this service. Look for companies that have experience and good reviews from customers who have had trenchless sewer repair done by them.
If you are located in San Francisco, one great option to consider is O’Grady Plumbing, a trusted and reliable plumbing company that offers trenchless sewer repair services. We have a team of experienced and certified plumbers who use state-of-the-art equipment to perform trenchless repairs with minimal disruption to your property.
We are also known for many other plumbing services, including drain cleaning, water heater installation, and emergency plumbing services.
Contact O’Grady Plumbing to see how we can help. We are available 24/7.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does trenchless sewer line replacement take?
A: Trenchless sewer line replacement can usually be completed within a few days, depending on the extent of the damage and the length of the sewer line.
Q: How much does trenchless sewer line replacement cost?
A: The cost of trenchless sewer line replacement can vary depending on the size of the sewer line, the extent of the damage, and other factors. It could cost between $70 to $300 per linear foot. However, it is often more cost-effective than traditional excavation and pipe replacement.
Q: Is trenchless sewer line replacement suitable for all types of sewer line damage?
A: Trenchless sewer line replacement may not be suitable for all types of sewer line damage, such as collapsed pipes or pipes with significant root intrusion. A qualified plumbing professional can evaluate your situation and recommend the best course of action.