Sixty-five percent of municipal sewer pipe systems go more than 200 years without significant repair or replacement. Many systems currently in use are made of concrete, asbestos cement pipe, or cast iron. Nearly all of these systems are nearing the end of their functional lives.
This means that the likelihood that homeowners will experience sewer line problems is steadily going up.
Fortunately, new techniques and technologies are making residential sewer line repair faster, cheaper, and easier. Keep reading to learn about trenchless sewer line repair and how it can help you if your sewer lines start to go.
Traditional Trenching Processes
Traditionally, sewer pipes have been laid, repaired, and replaced in much the same way. In every case, the first step has usually been to dig a deep trench running from the home to the point when the municipal sewer hookup is.
In most cases, the hookup is near the edge of the property. Often it is alongside or underneath the road or sidewalk adjoining the property.
This means that the necessary trenches typically cut through:
Sidewalks and portions of the road
They also disrupt everything in their path, including trees’ root systems, sprinkler systems, and buried power lines. Unsurprisingly, this kind of trenching is incredibly time-consuming, destructive, and expensive. While it has been necessary, it has never been ideal or welcomed by homeowners.
What Is Trenchless Sewer Line Repair?
Trenchless sewer line repair is a newer, more efficient form of plumbing technology. It allows professional plumbing experts to repair or replace damaged sewer lines without digging huge trenches across your property.
Instead of digging a trench, plumbers dig a small pit along your existing sewer line. From there, they may:
Send a camera down the line to inspect it
Use HydroScrub Jetting to clear away debris
Use a drain snake to clear the line
When these methods reveal that your sewer lines have eroded, collapsed, or otherwise become unserviceable, there are three forms of trenchless sewer line replacement that you can choose from.
In the pipe bursting method, plumbers send a bursting rod down the pit they have dug and into your sewer line. The rod has a cone-shaped tip and its back end is connected to a new pipe.
As the rod is pulled through your sewer line, it breaks up the existing pipe and pushes it out of the way. At the same time, it pulls the new pipe into the freshly cleared space.
One end of the new pipe is connected to your home. The other is connected to the municipal sewer line, creating a reliable new sewer line for your home.
Pipe bursting tends to be the preferred option when your pipes are already broken or collapsed. If your pipes are relatively intact, slip lining may be more appropriate.
Slip lining is sometimes referred to as creating a “pipe within a pipe” or Cured in Place Piping (CIPP). Plumbers use a device similar to a drain snake to apply an epoxy liner or special coating to the interior of your existing sewer pipes.
The new liner or coating creates a new pipe without the need to remove the existing pipe. Even when the old pipe corrodes, erodes, or otherwise fails, the new inner pipe will remain intact and serviceable.
Like pipe bursting, slip lining requires that only one or two small pits be dug rather than large-scale excavation.
Directional boring is essentially the same as pipe bursting except that instead of drilling out the broken pipe, plumbers simply drill a new line through the ground. They then pull a new pipe through the line to create a new sewer line. This can be most appropriate when you need to replace a sewer line but the existing line is too ruined to be repaired or badly placed.
When Is Trenchless Sewer Line Repair Appropriate?
Trenchless sewer line installation can be an ideal solution to a variety of sewer line problems. These include the most common causes of residential sewer line failure.
Over time, gravity and seasonal freeze-thaw cycles can cause the ground underneath and around your home to shift. This can create pressure on your pipes, eventually causing them to break.
Debris and Blockages
Debris can accumulate in your pipes over the years or a single foreign object flushed or washed down a drain can create an instant and severe blockage. From fatbergs to coffee grounds, it can take surprisingly little to back up your pipes badly.
Tree roots can and do push into and through sewer pipes as they grow. Root systems can be extensive, reaching across property boundaries to cause unseen trouble in your pipes.
Piping systems deteriorate over time. They corrode, erode, sag, and crack. This can cause them to leak, burst, or collapse.
All of these common causes of sewer line failure can generally be repaired using trenchless sewer repair technology. Tell-tale signs that your pipes may be suffering from one of these conditions include:
Discoloured water coming out of your faucets
Standing water or increased animal activity in your yard
Recurring toilet or sink clogs
If you notice any of these warning signs, call a plumbing professional right away to have your home’s piping inspected.
Alternatives to Trenchless Sewer Line Repair
Trenchless sewer line repair is not your only option for resolving sewer pipe problems, of course. The most common alternatives are HydroScrub jetting, drain snaking, and traditional trenching.
In water jetting, plumbers use special very-high-pressure hoses to power wash debris and buildup out of your pipes. If you have a simple blockage, water jetting may be sufficient by itself to clear your pipes. However, it cannot repair pipes that are sagging, cracked, or otherwise deteriorating.
Drain snakes are large, rope-like tools that burrow through your pipes to break up and dislodge debris. Like water jetting, they can do the trick if your pipes are just blocked up. They cannot fix broken or deteriorating lines, however.
Traditional trenching methods are still are an option. They are more costly and time-consuming and involve massive disruption to your home and yard, but they can provide you with new pipes when needed.
Benefits of Trenchless Sewer Line Replacement
Trenchless sewer line repair is the ideal way to fix or replace blocked or damaged sewer lines. It offers a host of benefits that the alternatives do not.
Trenchless sewer work is significantly faster than digging trenches to address sewer line problems. In many cases, pipe repair or replacement can be done in a single day. It is also much faster and easier to clean up after.
Digging trenches to deal with troubled sewer lines is expensive. It requires heavy machinery and more labour hours, both of which drive up costs. While the total cost of trenchless sewer line installation can vary depending on the situation, it is almost always cheaper than more traditional methods.
No Dangerous Chemicals
Running caustic or otherwise dangerous chemicals down drains to clear out clogs can backfire. Chemicals can leak through broken piping into your yard and water supply and complicate further work on your piping. Trenchless repair allows for easy use of drain snakes, water jetting, or new piping with no chemicals required.
Minimal Invasiveness and Damage
Traditional trenching methods routinely destroy:
Gardens and landscaping
Sidewalks and patios
Portions of road or curb
Damage to any of these things is unsightly. It can be time-consuming to fix and is often incredibly expensive.
Trenchless repair requires only small pits that are easily and inexpensively repaired. It saves you huge amounts of time, money, and stress.
Trenchless line replacement is a reliable and effective option for repairing or replacing broken, blocked, or deteriorating sewer lines. New lines installed using trenchless technology are durable, long-lasting, and require no more maintenance than your existing lines. In fact, they’ll likely require less maintenance.
Trenchless-installed sewer lines meet all local, regional, and national code requirements. They are safe and hassle-free.
Repair vs Replacement
Trenchless technology can be used to both repair and replace pipes. Which is appropriate for you will depend on your pipes, the cause of the problem, and other key factors.
In pipe repair scenarios, plumbing professionals may use trenchless technology to run drain snakes or water jetters. They may also run cameras down the pipe to get a clear view of the problem.
In rare cases, trenchless technology may be used to zero in on a specific piece of damaged piping and repair the line by replacing only that section.
Generally, trenchless pipe repair is appropriate when your sewer lines are in good condition and merely suffering from a blockage or build-up of debris.
Pipe replacement is recommended and may be become necessary when your pipes:
Are eroding or corroding
Are cracked or broken
Are sagging or angled to backflow into your home
Have been broken or infiltrated by tree roots
Are generally deteriorating past the point of reasonable repair
Given the standard age of sewer line infrastructure in North America and the wear and tear of time and use on the materials in use, replacement is often wise even when repair might be possible.
Replacing your pipes when you first begin to see issues can save you the stress and cost of repeated calls over time as existing problems get worse.
The Importance of Getting Professional Help
DIY websites often promote the idea that homeowners can handle plumbing concerns themselves. Certainly, it is possible to buy water jetters and drain snakes that you can operate yourself. At first glance, doing so many even seem cheaper than hiring a professional.
When it comes to plumbing, however, doing it yourself is rarely wise.
Plumbing Is a Health and Safety Concern
Plumbing is a serious health and safety concern. Botched plumbing jobs can lead to raw sewage backing up into your home. This is not only a nightmare to clean but a potentially serious health risk for you and your family.
Broken pipes can also leach sewage into your yard and surrounding areas, presenting an even bigger health hazard. Hiring a professional keeps your home, family, and community safe.
You Might Make It Worse
Devices such as water jetters and drain snakes can do more harm than good in inexperienced hands. A professional with the right tools and training might be able to neatly water-blast your pipes clean. If you tried to do the same job, there is every chance that you could actually damage the integrity of your pipes.
That can lead to much bigger problems.
Mistakes Are Expensive
If you think that hiring a professional is expensive, try calculating the costs of fixing a plumbing mistake. Raw sewage leaks or backups can cause enormous damage to your home, property, and family. In worst-case scenarios, the damage can extend beyond the boundaries of your property, increasing your costs exponentially.
Not only do you have to pay a professional to come in and redo the original job anyway, but you are also left shouldering the cleanup and compensation costs. Hiring a professional the first time is always the smarter, cheaper choice.
Is Trenchless Sewer Line Repair Right for You?
North York homeowners are increasingly finding trenchless line repair is the perfect solution to their plumbing problems. To find out if it can help you, schedule a professional plumbing inspection for your home today!