Peggy Moores loves that her house it sits on a street lined with old growth oak trees, beautifully maintained flower gardens and historic homes. But she also knows that beneath her front yard lies an inevitable and potentially pricey repair. “I have an old house, and the sewer line has always been a worry for me,” The Portland Maine native says.
Moores is concerned about the condition of the pipe connecting her 1920 home’s plumbing to the city main that runs down her street. “Several friends of ours who have had older homes here have had to replace their sewer lines,” Moores says. “It’s an expensive and disruptive repair.”
Not only can sewer pipe replacement take a chunk out of your wallet – from a few thousand to $20,000 or more – traditional methods can be disruptive, displacing landscaping and hardscaping, and even forcing unlucky homeowners to dig up garages, porches and driveways when their lines run beneath them.
But for those looking to bypass the backhoe, there are new methods of “no dig” sewer replacement that can save homeowners mess and stress.
When sewer repairs are necessary
Experts say how long a sewer will last depends on various factors that affect its integrity, but if your sewer is 40+ years old, it needs replacing. Even if your home is new, its plumbing might be connected to an older pipe. This is more often than not.
Trenchless methods came on the market for residential homes about 10 to 15 years ago, but many consumers are still unaware that they’re an option. And because sewer pipe replacement decisions are often made when an emergency situation arises, it limits time to do important research and if you contractor is old school, you’ll most likely have your entire yard dug up.
Trenchless pipe installation techniques
Northeast Sewer & Drain Service offers three types of trenchless sewer line replacement that are becoming more popular among homeowners – “pipe lining” and “pipe bursting.” To install a pipe liner, which is also known as “cured in place pipe, (CIPP)” a flexible tube coated with resin is blown or pulled into the damaged pipe and inflated. After several hours the resin hardens, creating a “pipe within a pipe.”
Lining will reduce your lateral’s diameter by about a quarter inch, which experts say won’t affect your capacity to remove waste from your home. Lining typically involves digging one access hole.
The pipe bursting method involves pulling a new pipe through a damaged one, simultaneously fracturing it outward. This method typically requires access holes to be dug on either side of the lateral. Pipe bursting may not be possible when the lateral has joints or 90 degree elbows, but bursting can still be done on a collapsed lateral if there’s room to drag a cable through the old pipe.
If your break is a small section (2-4ft) We can pipe patch the area with an epoxy resin, less invasive than traditional pipe replacement.
Most people have not heard of “no dig” sewer technology, But people we talk to say they are thankful it’s an option, to preserve their existing landscaping, patio, decks or other outdoor features.
The root of pipe problems
While acts of nature, accidents or gradual wear can damage sewer lines, the most common culprit in homes built before the 1970s is the intrusion of tree roots into the joints of the pipes, which can be made of clay, concrete, cast iron or Orangeburg, a substance made of wood fibers and pitch.
“The roots worm their way into the sewer to find water,” says Justin Dearborn owner of Northeast Sewer & Drain Ssevice who has been offering trenchless solutions for about six years. They continue to grow and expand into the joints, especially in the rainy seasons.
“Routing is like getting a haircut – you get it cut and it keeps growing,” Compromising the integrity of the pipe.
Potential for reduced cost
In many cases, going trenchless can save you money, including the majority of situations where homeowners are responsible for the condition of the sewer line to its connection with the sewer main.
Does homeowner’s insurance help cover the costs of sewer line replacement?
It does not. You are responsible for your sewer line to the street. You can buy insurance, but be careful and read the fine print. Most of these insurances only cover up the first 1000.00 you are responsible for the rest.
Trenching remains an option
For some homeowners, trenching may still be the only option. In the 6 years of trenchless pipe repair we have had only 1 job that had to be dug and that was because the original pipe had completely disintegrated.
Your options may be limited by the condition of your pipes, their configuration, or where you live. But 9 time out of 10 you can use a less invasive form of pipe installation.
Ask your contractor if they know about trenchless pipe installation?
Experts say it’s a good idea to inspect a sewer line with a sewer camera before you purchase a home. “The last thing you want is to have a $5,000 to $8,000 sewer problem right when you move in.
A few cities around the nation, like Tacoma, Wash., have begun requiring an inspection before selling a home.
Even if you’ve lived in your home for years, it’s worth hiring a professional to examine your line. That way, you can budget for future repairs or replacement, and don’t have to make snap decisions when an emergency happens.
Our Inspection prices are $250 to $350. Depending on commercial or residential service.
Make sure you hire a reputable sewer televising company, “We go in a lot of times after a home inspector has told them they have to have a whole new sewer line put in and it’s just a root problem easily rectified for a couple hundred dollars” Says Justin Dearborn Owner of Northeast Sewer & Drain Service “But on the other side of that, we’ve had home inspectors tell the home owner that the line is in great working shape and it fails 2 weeks after they close” So make sure you hire people that know what they’re looking at.
“Sewers lines are not a very fun or very glamorous repair, but once you start having problems they seem to compound. Don’t put it off…There are non invasive, less expensive options out there. Be informed.
Northeast Sewer & Drain Service