What Is Trenchless Sewer Repair?

Last Updated On June 11, 2024

Updated on April 28, 2022



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What Is Trenchless Sewer Repair

Do you have old underground sewer pipes that require replacement? Traditional sewer repair required digging into the ground to access the damaged sewer pipe, but it was labor-intensive and expensive.

The trenchless method provides a more efficient and budget-friendly solution. Before you get started on a trenchless repair project, you should learn more about the process and your options.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • What is trenchless sewer repair?
  • How does trenchless sewer pipe repair work?
  • Different trenchless sewer repair methods 

What's In This Guide?

      What is Trenchless Sewer Repair?

      Trenchless sewer repair refers to the process of repairing sewer lines without digging into the ground. This means leaving driveways, landscaping, and flower beds intact!

      The trenchless sewer repair method can apply to water supply lines and other hard-to-reach pipes, but this article will focus on trenchless sewer line repair. You can read more about trenchless water line replacement here.

      Your home’s drain system transports wastewater from each drain in the home to the main sewer line. This main line then takes it to the city’s water treatment plant or your septic tank. These are referred to as the sewer lateral lines. They can degrade or experience tree root intrusions, requiring replacement. 

      Trenchless sewer drain repair accomplishes this without having to excavate the ground to reach the old pipes. We will explain how new pipes are installed without digging in the methods section further down.

      Why do I need trenchless sewer line repair?

      You need trenchless sewer line repair when you experience a leak from a crack or broken section that is inaccessible in your line. Even a small leak only 1.6 mm in diameter can lead to a $573 increase in your water bill throughout the year.

      There are different reasons your sewer line might need to be repaired as they get older, including:

      • Sediment buildup

      PVC pipe and also metal pipe will accrue sediment and other types of buildup that can lead to a clog. If you prolong drain cleaning, the clog can lead to a leak thanks to the excess stress from pressure placed on the pipe material.

      Hard water causes mineral deposits to develop more quickly than if you have soft water.

      • Corrosion

      Corrosion refers to the process of metal turning to rust. It happens naturally, but it happens more quickly when dealing with hot water and high water pressure conditions.

      • Settlement

      Dirt can settle causing pipe sections to break loose, or in some cases sag. When these “sags” develop it restricts the proper flow of water (and waste) through the system. This is called a belly in a sewer line, and if severe, may need to be addressed.

      did you know What Is Trenchless Sewer Repair

      Identifying an Underground Leak

      Quick leak detection can significantly minimize damage (and repair bills), so it’s important to know the indications of a problem.

      Signs of an underground leak include:

      • Pools of water or sinkholes
      • High utility bills
      • Low water pressure
      • Foul odor
      • Mold
      • Cracks in the foundation

      To identify the location of an underground leak, you should get a professional sewer camera inspection. You can also attempt one yourself with the right camera locator.

      How Does Trenchless Sewer Pipe Repair Work?

      To complete trenchless sewer pipe repair, plumbers use specialized tools and equipment to access the existing sewer line from above the ground. They can repair or replace sewer pipes with new piping using special methods we’ll soon cover, resulting in minimal damage to your yard, landscaping, driveway, or foundation. It’s quite a breakthrough. 

      Trenchless repair and replacement methods are way better than traditional underground pipe replacement methods, and they last for a long time. In most cases, you can expect the results to last at least 50 years! 

      What are the Different Trenchless Sewer Repair Methods?

      Pipe Bursting Method

      What is pipe bursting? This method forces a new pipe into the ground through the existing one, forcing the existing pipe out the other end using a bursting tool. A machine feeds the new pipe in through one opening, while the old damaged pipe extends out from the side when it completes its route. 

      All of this while traveling under yards and other obstacles that would otherwise need to be excavated. 

      Pipe bursting allows for the greatest increase in hydraulic capacity compared to pipe lining methods that may reduce the size of the pipe.

      There are some limitations, however. A difficult and out of sight pipe blockage can pose challenges. The head at the end of the bursting tool won’t be able to move the old pipe effectively while encountering a clog.

      This is why most plumbers will first inspect with a camera. They can then address any sewer line clog in advance before scheduling pipe bursting services.

      Here is a video demonstrating how pipe bursting works:

      CIPP Relining 

      What is CIPP Pipe Lining? This method pushes a soft liner or “sock” soaked in epoxy into the old pipe. It is forced through under pressurized air using special equipment. Once properly in place, the soft slip lining will cure and harden smoothly inside the old pipe, essentially creating a new pipe in the old pipe. It’s pretty amazing.

      The curing process requires heat or ultraviolet light and takes 4 – 24 hours. During this time, residents of the home will be asked to limit water use until the pipe is done curing. 

      Relining slightly reduces the interior diameter of the pipe, but this is not a problem. It beats the alternative!

      Watch this CIPP video demonstration:

      Trenchless Pipe Lining

      Sometimes, the soft liner used in the CIPP Relining won’t fit into the old pipe, such as at 90-degree angles or otherwise rough surfaces. In this case, you will use trenchless pipe relining made from the epoxy coating.

      It pours or is ”sprayed” into your pipes and hardens into a new structural pipe lining similar to CIPP relining, but doesn’t involve a sock. The epoxy lining only slightly reduces the inner diameter of your pipe.

      Here is a company discussing (and showing) what pipe lining looks like:

      Final Thoughts on Trenchless Sewer Pipe Repair

      Trenchless sewer replacement allows you to replace damaged pipes with minimal disruption and no trench digging. We recommend enlisting professional plumbing services who have the proper training and equipment to provide the results you desire. You don’t want a rookie plumber testing out his new gear at your house.

      Trenchless Sewer and Pipe Repair FAQs 

      What is trenchless sewer repair?

      Trenchless sewer line repair is a method of repairing a damaged sewer line with minimal digging, reducing the damage done to your yard, the time required, and the cost of the service.

      How do you know if your sewer line is leaking?

      Signs that you have an underground leak include:

      • Increased utility bills
      • Low water pressure
      • Water damage to your yard
      • Unpleasant smell
      • Damaged foundation

      Is pipe lining worth it?

      Yes! Pipe lining is worth it! The simple process can prolong the life of your residential and commercial plumbing pipes and drains for up to 50 more years.

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      About Plumbing Navigator

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      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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