“How Does Trenchless Sewer Repair Work?” Skip in Davis, CA Asks a Plumbing Expert

how does trenchless sewer repair workOur friend Skip is having sewer problems—the most dreaded problems of them all. Skip knows that he needs to have his sewers repaired (I’ll let him share the dirty details with you in a second here), and he’s heard about different ways to do this. Skips asks:

“I hate to even have to ask about this, but I think there’s a serious problem with the sewer in my home. The issues started with sewer back ups, which I first noticed in the shower drain in my downstairs bathroom. It was happening every now and then, but before I knew it, the toilet down there also started to back up. Then it started to back up every time I flushed it. I talked to my neighbors and none of them said they were having the same problem. So, my guess is that it’s a problem with my home’s sewer system. FYI, I’m also smelling what I think is sewer gas.

So, yeah, I think the safe bet is that I need to invest in some serious sewer repair work. I’ve been hearing a lot from friends and family about trenchless sewer repair, but, to be totally honest, I don’t really know what that is or how it works. That’s why I’m writing today to ask an expert how does trenchless sewer repair work? And what would potentially make my home a good candidate to use it? I’m not sure if this matters, but I also happen to live in Davis, CA. Thanks!”

I think I’ve heard your story a hundred times before, Skip. It’s a common one for those of us in the plumbing business. Folks don’t typically contact us unless they have a really dire situation on their hands, a situation like the one you’ve described here. I’ve talked in the past about the pros and cons of trenchless sewer repair, but, due to the frequency of questions I hear just like Skip’s, I think it’s worth exploring the topic again. I’m a big fan of this method and, once you start to learn more about it, my guess is that you will be too.

How Does Trenchless Sewer Repair Work: The Basic Introduction

Like Skip’s backed up sewer problem, let’s start with the basics here before we get more severe and complex. What then, exactly, is trenchless sewer repair?

…the costs for traditional sewer repair can run from a few thousand bucks on the low end up to as much as $20,000—or even more.

trenchless sewer repair and replacement FAQTo understand what trenchless sewer repair is—and why it’s a great option in our region, including Davis, where Skip lives—homeowners first need to know a bit about traditional trenching methods. Typically, when there’s an issue with your home’s connection to the sewers, you’re forced to dig up the street in front of your house, as well as long stretches of your yard, driveway, and landscaping, to access and repair your lines. I’m sure you’ve seen a neighbor going through this at least once in your life.

It’s not exactly pretty, and it’s actually quite expensive. In fact, the costs for traditional sewer repair can run from a few thousand bucks on the low end up to as much as $20,000—or even more. To be as blunt as I possibly can about this: it’s costly, time-consuming, and messy. That’s the bad news.

Basically, trenchless sewer repair is a way to fix problems with underground pipes without the extremely invasive digging process.

The good news is that plumbing experts started offering a much less invasive method about 15 years ago called trenchless sewer repair, which most homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of even if, like Skip, they don’t know exactly what it is. Basically, trenchless sewer repair is a way to fix problems with underground pipes without the extremely invasive digging process. It’s a way to fix your sewers more quickly and with less mess.

How Does Trenchless Sewer Repair Work: The Advanced Course

When it comes to the superior and less invasive trenchless sewer repair work, there are two common types to be aware of:

  • Pipe lining: A pipe liner, which is also sometimes called a cured-in-place pipe, is a deflated, flexible tube that gets coated with resin and then pushed with air into your damaged sewer pipe, where it is then fully inflated. This hardens the resin, which becomes a new pipe within your ruptured or broken one. If, for example, Sacramento’s wet winter caused your sewer line to back up when it rains, it may be on account of a cracked pipe. With a pipe liner, you can essentially replace that area of damaged pipe. The lining reduces the diameter of your pipes by only about a quarter of an inch, which won’t greatly reduce its ability to function.
  • Pipe bursting: If your sewers have joints in them, though, or a pipe that has fully collapsed, pipe lining won’t be a viable solution. The twists in the joints will require more precision, and, of course, you won’t be able to line a pipe that has collapsed as you won’t be able to insert the lining. Pipe bursting then becomes a trenchless repair option. Pipe bursting involves pulling a new pipe through an old broken one, simultaneously fracturing the old destroyed pipe outward. While it won’t be as invasive as digging the long trenches standard sewer repair techniques require, pipe bursting does call for digging access holes to either side of the busted pipe.

If you’re like me, all this info is great but you’re probably still anxious for more. Well, you’re in luck. In the past, I’ve also put together a trenchless sewer repair homeowner’s guide that goes into even more detail. Enjoy!

So, there you have it, Skip. You’ve gone from vaguely knowing that trenchless sewer repair is an option to being a trenchless sewer repair pro. One more thing I’d like to add is that trenchless sewer repair is, without question, a procedure best left to the experts.

…trenchless sewer repair is, without question, a procedure best left to the experts.

I know, I know… some plumbing jobs are doable for you DIY gurus, but this just isn’t one of them. In fact, I’ve talked to more than a few homeowners who’ve thought it was a good idea, tried it, and then ended up having to call out the pros to have it fixed—at higher cost. Learn all you can about trenchless sewer repair, but then contact the pros at Bell Brothers when you’re ready to have it done at your house.

Learn whether trenchless sewer repair is right for your home and whether there are other maintenance steps your house is in need of—from an HVAC system upgrade to a window or insulation install. Contact the experienced professionals at Bell Brothers today for a free in-home estimate.

Wondering how to finance needed upgrades? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.

Image courtesy Vladimir Badaev