What Is Trenchless Sewer Repair, Exactly?

It used to be that any problems with a home’s a sewer line meant digging up the entire yard to manage repairs. Even something as seemingly minor as a cracked sewer line required major yard work. That is no longer the case. Thanks to trenchless sewer repair, most problems with residential sewer lines can be addressed with very little digging required.

What many homeowners do not realize is that trenchless sewer repair is not a single type of repair. The folks at Salt Lake City’s Salt City Plumbing consider it more of a category of repairs. There are all sorts of sewer line repairs that can be addressed without digging trenches.

Common Types of Trenchless Repairs

Most residential homes are connected to city sewer systems by way of a cast-iron pipe. The older a home is, the more likely its sewer line is made from cast-iron. Unfortunately, no cast-iron pipe will last forever. It will eventually corrode, crack, or just break clean through.

At any rate, trenchless sewer repair generally requires digging just one small hole, at most. Sewer repair technicians then use a variety of technologies, including video cameras, to diagnose problems and fix them. Here are some of the more common types of trenchless repairs:

  • Line Replacement – If a home’s sewer line is damaged to the point that it cannot be effectively repaired, it can be replaced through a process known as pipe bursting. A new pipe is fitted with a bursting head (cone) and then pulled through the old-line. This head breaks up the old-line and allows the new pipe to fill in the space.
  • Pipe Lining – Damaged sewer pipes that do not follow a straight line may not be addressable through pipe bursting. Instead, those pipes can be lined through a spin casting process that utilizes an epoxy resin to address corrosion, leaks, and cracks.
  • Balloon Lining – Also known as cure-in-place pipe lining (CIPP), balloon lining is very similar to angioplasty in principle. Balloons covered with a resin-soaked fabric are placed into the sewer line and inflated. A few hours later, they are removed. They leave behind what is essentially a whole new pipe residing within the old sewer line.

There are other types of trenchless sewer repairs not mentioned here. The most important point is that many types of repairs can now be affected without having to dig up your yard.

Digging vs. Trenchless

While there may be times when plumbing companies cannot avoid fully digging up a sewer system, digs are no longer the norm. That is a good thing. Digging up the entire yard creates a whole host of issues that go above and beyond problems with the sewer line.

You should probably know that trenchless repairs can cost more than standard digging repairs when you are looking just at the cost of the repairs themselves. When you throw in the additional costs of pouring new concrete, repairing the yard, and renewing your landscaping, your total cost is generally lower with trenchless repairs.

Trenchless repairs have another advantage: they are faster. A good sewer technician needs no more than an hour or two to diagnose sewer line problems. Then, depending on the solution, trenchless repairs can be affected in as little as a single day. By contrast, digging up your yard could lead to a week or more of work before everything is back to normal.

Thanks to some exceptionally good plumbing technologies, bad sewer lines no longer have to be dug up for repair. Trenchless repairs are fast, easy to complete, and almost entirely dig free.

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