Plumbing emergencies go well beyond leaky faucets and burst pipes. Broken sewer lines and clogged drains can cause extensive property damage and cost thousands of dollars to repair. Sewer line backups aren’t covered under most home insurance policies, so it’s important to take care of issues quickly to minimize property damage and repair costs.
Options for Sewer Line Repair
It’s not surprising that homeowners rarely think about their sewer lines until a problem develops. Sewer lines last for many years but like all plumbing components, age and wear and tear takes a toll. At some point, repair or replacement will be required.
There are two common options for sewer line repair - traditional excavation and trenchless methods.
Traditional sewer line repair is often labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. It can take many hours to just dig the trench along a buried pipe that needs to be repaired or replaced. After completing repairs, it then takes several hours to rebury the pipe. Depending on the situation, sewer line replacement can take several days to complete.
Today’s trenchless technology offers a faster, less expensive, and environmentally friendly way to repair or replace damaged sewer lines. Trenchless technology has been around for several decades but many homeowners are still unfamiliar with this option.
With trenchless technology, trained technicians can perform repairs through a minimally invasive process that avoids excavation. Trenchless technology has evolved to the point where many plumbing companies (including Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter) are now offering this option to both residential and commercial customers.
Advantages of Trenchless Sewer Lines and Repair
- Requires Less Time. With trenchless repair, less time is spent digging which means repairs can be made quicker. A repair that could take several days with conventional methods is often completed in a single day.
- Preserves Landscaping. Many homes and businesses have sewer lines running under beautiful and expensive landscaping. Digging up sewer lines can ruin yards which can be costly to repair. Trenchless repair only requires one or two small holes to reach the sewer lines, usually at the entrance and exit of the pipes, reducing damage to landscaping.
- Environmentally Friendly. An underground plumbing system is a web of water, sewage and gas lines. Trenchless pipe repair allows technicians to complete the job in a streamlined approach with no risk of hitting another line and releasing chemicals or raw sewage into the environment.
- Cost-Effective. Sewer line repairs and replacements are usually the most expensive plumbing problems homeowners face. With trenchless methods, less labor is required which reduces the total cost of sewer and pipe repairs. In addition, landscaping and outdoor features aren’t damaged, further reducing the total cost of repairs.
- Long-Lasting Repairs. Repairing sewers using trenchless techniques is just as effective as traditional methods. The use of cured-in-place liners and seamless PVC piping are long-lasting solutions. PVC doesn’t suffer from rust or corrosion and can easily last up to 100 years. Trenchless repairs meet all plumbing industry standards.
- Better Function. In addition to lasting longer and needing fewer future repairs, trenchless repairs often improve the function of a sewer system. Pipe liners can increase flow capacity and new piping installed using trenchless methods can be larger than previous pipes, which also adds more flow capacity.
Types of Trenchless Pipe Repair
There are several types of trenchless pipe repair used for both commercial and residential repairs.
- Cured-in-Place Pipe (CIPP) Lining. With this type of repair, a plumber inserts an inflatable tube covered in epoxy into a sewer line. From there, the tube is inflated, pressing against the existing sewer line. While it’s up against the existing pipe, the epoxy cures and hardens, repairing the leak. The inflatable tube is then removed and the sewer line is repaired.
- Pipe Bursting. Pipe bursting is used to replace a damaged sewer line without the need for invasive trenching. Technicians feed a cone-shaped bit through the existing pipe and destroy the pipe while immediately replacing it with a new one.
- Pipe Coating. This process involves applying epoxy to the inside of a drain to repair small cracks and holes and protect the pipe from further corrosion. Through the use of a pump and a flexible tube, a pipe coating machine pushes epoxy through the tube into a drain while rotating brushes apply the resin. The epoxy is durable and designed to last for more than 50 years.
How You Can Protect Your Sewer Lines
Although you can’t do much about old, deteriorating sewer pipes, there are three steps you can take to protect your sewer lines and delay the need for expensive repairs:
1. Get regular maintenance and inspections.
One of the best ways to avoid unnecessary sewer repairs is to invest in professional maintenance of your plumbing and sewer system. Locating problems early helps prevent costly property damage and expensive repairs
Regular maintenance should include a thorough inspection of your entire plumbing system.Using a camera probe, a trained technician will thoroughly inspect the inside of pipes for corrosion and blockages..
2. Prevent root damage.
Invasive tree roots are a common cause of broken and clogged sewer lines. Roots follow sources of water as they grow. Since sewer pipes carry liquid waste, roots are naturally attracted to them. Clay sewer pipes, typically found in older homes, are the most susceptible to root damage.
Roots can grow and wedge their way into sewer pipes and cause extensive damage. If trees are located too close to underground pipes, removing them is less costly than replacing a damaged sewer line.
3. Only flush toilet paper.
The only things that should be disposed of in toilets are human waste and toilet paper. Any other materials, including feminine hygiene products, and disposal wipes and diapers, cause tough blockages. Even wipes labeled flushable should be disposed of in a trash can.
4. Protect your drains.
All household drains connect to the main sewer line. Protecting drains helps prevent clogs and damage to pipes.
An inexpensive way to protect drains is to use a mesh drain strainer or basket. Non-liquids will sit in the trap rather than flowing down the drain. Then you simply remove the trap and toss the solids in the trash can. Drain traps are simple, inexpensive and easy to find in any home improvement store.
Don’t Delay Sewer Line Repairs
Slow drains are often the first sign homeowners notice that could indicate a potential problem with a sewer line. The flow of waste and wastewater can be restricted or blocked in damaged sewer lines, eventually backing up inside a property.
When you have a problem with your sewer, the worst thing you can do is put off a repair. Sewer blockages or leaks in pipes need to be repaired as quickly as possible to avoid expensive damage and repairs. Sewer line problems aren’t just frustrating, they can pose a serious health risk.
Sewer repairs are not a DIY situation. You’ll need to call a professional plumber who can safely deal with sewage backups and make the necessary repairs quickly.
Is Trenchless Sewer Line Repair Always the Right Solution?
Whether or not a trenchless sewer repair is the best option depends on the overall condition of the damaged pipe. Pipe depth, the location of the pipe, and how much damage has already happened are all factors that need to be considered.
In some cases, trenchless methods might work but aren’t cost-effective. The only way to know for sure is to contact a reputable plumber who specializes in trenchless repairs. A video inspection will help determine whether trenchless pipe repair or another method is the best solution.
Trust a Professional Plumber for all Sewer Line Repairs
Plumbing problems always seem to happen at night or on the weekends. When you are faced with a plumbing emergency, time is of the essence. Simply Green, Sewer & Rooter never charges extra for emergency service calls.
If you’re in need of plumbing service in the Los Gatos area, call us at (408) 716-1686. We use a wide range of tools for both commercial and residential plumbing. Our plumbers offer trenchless plumbing services and many jobs can be completed in a single day.