Sewer repair used to be a nightmare for homeowners. Even minor repairs meant tearing up the yard, landscaping or driveway just to reach the pipes. Today, trenchless technology is making it easy to perform repairs without having to dig up the yard.
But how does the trenchless repair process work, and is it even a good idea?
How Trenchless Sewer Repair Works
1. Assess the Problem
Before any repairs can begin, your plumber will have to pinpoint the location of the problem and assess the severity of the damage. The location and extent of the damage will help determine the best method of repair.
How can your plumber assess the damage without digging up your yard? Cameras.
Plumbers snake cameras into the sewer line to get a better view of the damage from the inside of the pipes. Using the camera, your plumber can determine whether you need just a small section of the pipe repaired or the entire sewer line.
2. Prepare the Pipe for Repair
Once your plumber knows the location and extent of the damage, the pipes can be prepared for repair. To do this, your plumber will find the shallowest point of the sewer line (typically near the outside of the home).
Using hydro jetting, your plumber will clear the line and remove any leftover debris manually or with a plumbing snake.
3. Repair the Pipe
After the line is cleared, your plumber can start the repair process. With trenchless sewer repair, special liners are used to fix the damage from the inside. Typically, faulty sewer lines are repaired using the cured in place pipe liners, or CIPP.
CIPP is made from a special type of resin that hardens and cures after being placed inside of the sewer pipe.
The material is inserted into the sewer line at the point of repair, and your plumber will use the vacuum method to infuse the resin and make sure the area is fully saturated.
The curing process can take as long as 30 hours or as little as one hour, depending on the size of the pipe.
Once cured, your plumber will inspect the pipe with the camera again to make sure the repair was successful. If cured properly, the sewer line can be used right away.
Sometimes, CIPP is not possible if the lateral has collapsed or has joints. In this case, the pipe bursting method can be used to repair the line – provided there is room to drag a cable through the pipe.
With pipe bursting, a new pipe is pulled through an old, damaged pipe. The process fractures the old pipe outward. Plumbers only have to dig small access holes on either side of the pipe to perform this repair.
Is Trenchless Repair a Good Choice for Your Home?
Before trenchless technology, plumbers used trenching to repair sewer lines. Trenching involves digging up the yard or the street in front of the home. Depending on the location of the repair, there may be other complications, like having to redirect traffic if the street has to be dug up.
Conventional repair methods can cost thousands of dollars, but so can trenchless repairs.
The cost difference between the two methods is typically negligible, and trenchless may even cost more. However, trenchless may be more cost effective in the long run because you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on restorative work. If you have a beautifully landscaped yard, it may cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more to bring your yard back to its original condition after the digging is complete.
Consult with your plumber and shop around to determine which method would be most cost effective for your home.