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How Does Trenchless Sewer Repair Work

O’Grady Plumbing (OGP) is San Francisco’s multi-generational residential and commercial plumbing company.

Trenchless Sewer Repair Operations

Trenchless sewer operations are a type of repair and replacement method used for underground sewer pipes. This method involves minimal digging and disruption to the surrounding area, making it a more efficient and environmentally friendly option compared to traditional methods. If you’re like most people, the mention of sewer repair makes your skin crawl. Luckily, trenchless sewer operations make the process a lot less daunting. By using special equipment and techniques, we can repair your sewer without having to tear up your yard or driveway. This makes trenchless operations one of the fastest growing and most widely accepted methods of sewer replacement and repair today.

With trenchless sewer repair, you can say farewell to digging and excavation as this is rarely needed, and even when necessary, only the barest minimum is used. This type of repair works for all pipe repairs and is suitable for pipes that are cracked, corroded, or otherwise damaged. If you are considering trenchless sewer repair for your home or business, it is important to consult with a qualified professional first to discuss your options. A professional is in the best position to assess the damage to your sewer line and determine the best course of action.

Factors to Consider before a Trenchless Sewer Replacement or Repair Project

  • Budget

While trenchless sewer operations prove to be the best way to combat your sewer problems, it is important to note that they tend to be more expensive than traditional methods. Therefore, you will need to factor this in while considering getting one for your sewer. To get an accurate estimate, you will need to get in touch with a contractor as the cost tends to vary from place to place and on the specifications of your project.

  • Your Sewer Requirements

While we would have loved to say that trenchless sewer operations are for everyone, the reality is slightly different. By this, we mean that there are sewers that are not made for trenchless operations, and in that case, trenchless sewer repair would be somewhat difficult.

What Are The Benefits Of Trenchless Sewer Repair?

Minimize Digging and Excavating

Repairing sewers is not an easy job, and one of the things that contribute to this is all the digging and excavation that it requires. However, with trenchless sewer repairs, you can be sure that there is a minimal amount of digging and excavating that needs to be done, and this can save time and money.

Reduced Damage to the Surrounding Landscape

Because sewer repairs tend to be messy, especially with traditional methods, the surrounding landscape tends to be affected. However, this is something that rarely crops up with trenchless sewer repairs. This method ensures that your project is carried on and completed with minimal damage to the surrounding landscape.

Quicker and Easier Installation

Trenchless sewer repair is typically quicker and easier to install than traditional sewer repair methods. This means that you can get your sewers up and going in no time at all, and at the same time get the best.

Long-lasting Results

Trenchless sewer repair can often provide long-lasting results, as opposed to traditional sewer repair methods, which may need to be repaired or replaced more often. Better still, you can get a warranty from your contractor after your project. This will keep you assured that your sewer repairs will last a long time.

If you are considering trenchless sewer repair for your home or business, it is important to consult with a qualified professional to discuss your options. A professional will be able to assess the damage to your sewer line and determine the best course of action. 

Trenchless Sewer Repair: Pipe Bursting

Pipe bursting is a trenchless method of sewer repair or replacement that involves breaking up the existing pipe and replacing it with a new one. This method is typically used for pipes that are cracked, corroded, or otherwise damaged. When repairing sewers, new high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes are installed alongside the current subterranean sewer line while it is being broken and expanded. No additional chemicals or other impurities are needed. This makes pipe bursting a particularly sustainable way of replacing sewers because of its extended lifespan and the use of ecologically friendly HDPE pipes.

Pipe bursting can be an effective way to repair or replace a sewer line without causing major damage to the surrounding landscape. However, this method can be more expensive than traditional methods, and it may require special equipment and training.

Benefits of Pipe Bursting

It requires less labor.

Since pipe bursting is a trenchless operation, there is no need to run heavy gear to dig up a lot of dirt, so it requires less effort overall. Contractors find this to their advantage as they no longer need to do the backbreaking work of shoveling dirt to get your project done.

Less Damage Results from Pipe Bursting

In addition, pipe bursting results in less damage to the area you’re working in, requiring less cleanup and less repair when the line has been fixed. In relation to this, we’d also want to stress that pipe bursting is a more eco-friendly method than other, more traditional forms of pipe repair. It is very uncommon for poisonous materials to be handled during excavation, and since there is no digging involved, there is little chance that these materials will end up in the water supply or anywhere else on the surface of the ground.

Pipe Bursting Is Safe

It’s a fact that excavations aren’t very safe. When you dig out mold and asbestos, which are dangerous substances that frequently live underground, you obviously put your health at risk. As a result, when you opt for the pipe bursting method, You avoid danger since the earth will not be dug up.

Pipe Bursting Is Associated With Higher Productivity

You may spend more time performing the necessary tasks more precisely and successfully since you are not spending as much time excavating and cleaning up your mess. Depending on the task, of course, pipe bursting techniques can repair up to 200 meters of pipe every day. This would mean that the project could be completed in less time and at a faster rate while maintaining quality.

Cost of Pipe Bursting Repair

There are lots of factors that affect the overall cost of repairing your sewer with pipe bursting. This includes the extent of damage, the duration of the project, the location, and, inevitably, the contractor’s labor costs. However, on average  pipe bursting will cost about $60 to $200 per foot, so you can be sure that you will pay somewhere in the range of $3,500 to $20,000. Since pipe bursting entails replacing your pipes, this amount will likely go higher or lower depending on the length of the damaged pipe and how deep it goes.

Trenchless Sewer Repair: Cured In-Place Pipe Lining 

CIPP is a trenchless sewer repair method that can often provide long-lasting results. In CIPP, a flexible liner is inserted within an already-existing pipe, inflated, and then dried and hardened inside the pipe by exposure to heat or UV radiation. In essence, the pipe’s current surface is created within the liner, giving it a smooth appearance that makes it look almost brand new.

Benefits of Cured in-place Lining

Compared to other sewer repair techniques, it involves little to no digging and takes a lot less time to accomplish.

More Effective Flows

Smooth and enduring, CIPP lining makes it simple for liquids and small amounts of solids to pass through the pipes. Nothing can catch on to the debris or cause it to slow down.

Limited Workforce and Equipment Requirements

A sizable crew of employees is not required for pipe maintenance. Furthermore, no huge machinery is required! About 2 employees can finish the job swiftly and efficiently.

Materials Needed for Trenchless Sewer Operations

Trenchless repairs or replacements all need certain equipment or materials which are to be used in carrying out the project.

Hydraulic Pumps

You require the strongest lateral bursting system on the market when using the pipe bursting approach. By doing so, you may complete the task more quickly and with greater control. The more powerful the hydraulic pumps, the more vital they are. 

Pulling Units

For trenchless repair, you have to insert the new pipe within the broken pipe. Because of this, you require a powerful, dependable pulling device. The sewer lines that have fallen or are significantly weakened, as well as aging pipelines, are ruptured by these devices. The intensity and size of these pulling units differ.Therefore, the ideal strategy is to use small ones for pipes that are 6″, 8″, and 12″, which gives you  flexibility for all tasks.

Water Line Slitters

When pipes need to be replaced, especially old pipes , this kind of equipment is often required. The outdated line is relocated by a cable and then, the new line is inserted so that it fits perfectly when the slitter pulls everything through the damaged line. Almost no digging is necessary when using water line slitters. The process is rapid, requiring little time and work.

Pipe Liners

After being coated with resin, liner tubes are transformed into the brand-new cured-in-place pipe. They have a variety of diameters, ranging from 3″ to 12″. There are several varieties. There are some designed for straight pipes, while others are designed for applications requiring a 45-degree bend. 


Sewer line maintenance has been transformed since the introduction of video cameras. The video camera performs all the survey work, so there’s no need to dig up the old pipe to figure out what’s wrong. As the camera travels through the pipe system, a locating device is added to let you know where it is at all times. On a monitor located above ground, your technician monitors the process. He may direct the camera’s movement and focus, and record the full footage for subsequent review. The locator equipment reveals the precise location of the pipes as well as any obstructions or damage. Most importantly, it illustrates in visuals the root of the issue. A tree root, a collapsed or failing pipe, or a break in the pipe are the most common sources. When using a camera, there is no room for guesswork. 

Water Jetting Equipment

You could discover after the survey that the trenchless sewer repair is unnecessary. This is especially true in situations when all you need to get it flowing again is to remove the accumulation within the old pipe. Since most sewage problems are mostly caused by clogs, a strong stream of scorching water can be forced through the pipes using the water jetting apparatus. This in turn removes the obstruction and also eliminates accumulation on the internal surface of the pipe.

Common Issues that Clog or Break Sewer Linese.


Tuberculation is the deposition of encrustations on the inner walls of sewer pipes. These deposits can reduce the flow capacity of the pipe and eventually lead to blockages. By making use of our trenchless sewer operations, we can get these deposits removed easily and restore the full flow capacity of your sewer lines.

Root Intrusion

Root intrusion is another common problem that can cause blockages in sewer lines. Tree roots can grow into cracks in the sewer pipe and cause blockages. This is as frustrating as it sounds as it can result in a lot of inconveniences, such as poor drainage, foul smell, etc.


Grease is one of the most common causes of sewer line problems. Over time, grease can build up in the sewer pipe and inadvertently cause blockages. This in turn causes clogs, poor drainage, and maybe, as time goes on, leaks.

Sagging Lines

Sagging sewer lines can be caused by a number of factors, including ground movement, age, and tree roots. However, this can be easily resolved. Thanks to trenchless sewer operations, we can stabilize and support the sewer line, preventing further damage and restoring the full flow capacity of your sewer line.

Risks Associated with Trenchless Sewer Operations

  • There is a risk that the tunnel could collapse while it is being dug, which could cause serious injury or death. To avoid this, all trenchless operations should not be considered a DIY project and should be left only to a professional.
  • There is also a risk that groundwater could be contaminated if the trenchless operation is not performed properly.
  • Soil erosion: Haphazard trenchless operations can also cause soil erosion, which could lead to environmental problems.
  • Burst pipes: If the trenchless operation is not performed correctly, it could cause the sewer pipe to burst, which would cause a major flooding problem.
  • Damage to property: Trenchless sewer operations can also damage nearby property, including sidewalks, driveways, and landscaping, especially when done by someone who is not experienced.
  • While there are some risks associated with trenchless sewer operations, and these risks seem daunting at first, it is important to note that these risks can be minimized by choosing a reputable contractor and ensuring that the operation is performed correctly. When done properly, trenchless sewer operations can provide a safe and effective way to repair or replace sewer pipes.

Advantages of Trenchless Sewer Operations

Trenchless sewer operations are less disruptive to your property than traditional excavation methods. They also have a number of other advantages, including:

  • Reduced cost: Trenchless sewer operations can often be completed for a fraction of the cost of traditional excavation methods.
  • Less time: Trenchless sewer operations are typically quicker to complete than traditional excavation methods, meaning you can get back to your normal routine faster.
  • Reduced disruption: As the name suggests, trenchless sewer operations cause less disruption to your property than traditional excavation methods. This is because there is no need to dig large trenches through your yard or driveway.
  • Increased durability: Trenchless sewer repair methods can often increase the lifespan of your sewer pipes, meaning you won’t have to worry about them for years to come.
  • Trenchless sewer repair is a much more environmentally friendly option than traditional excavation methods, which can damage your property and the surrounding ecosystem.
  • Trenchless sewer repair is often more cost effective than traditional methods due to the reduced amount of time and labor required.

Sewer Line Replacement Beneath Slab

If your sewer line runs beneath a slab, there are a few different options for trenchless replacement. One option is to use a process called pipe bursting. This method involves breaking up the old sewer pipe into small pieces and then replacing it with a new, stronger pipe.

Another option for trenchless sewer repair beneath a slab is called pipe relining. This method uses a flexible liner that is inserted into the old sewer pipe. The liner is then inflated and left in place to cure. This creates a new inner surface for the pipe, which is less likely to be damaged than the old, damaged pipe.

Both methods are efficient, and to choose which is best suited for you and your needs, get in touch with a contractor. A survey will be first conducted, and then you will be provided with a selection of alternatives and an estimate of the cost of your project.

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