14 Trenchless Sewer Repair Pros and Cons

A clogged sewer line is an emergency situation. The worst thing you can do is try to put off this repair. Any blockage or break will cause drains to back up, foundations to flood, and sewer contamination of a home in the worst-case scenario. A trenchless sewer repair allows you to repair or replace lines which require maintenance quickly.

Traditional pipes age through cracking and blockages, which causes them to disintegrate over time. Tree roots create impacts on the system which cause a need for repairs too. Modern trenchless sewer repair changes the dynamic for a fix because you no longer dig a trench along the pipe to access the damaged area. Now only a couple of small holes need to be run to complete the task, with micro-video allowing for remote work to create the necessary repairs.

There are several advantages to consider with trenchless sewer repair, but a few disadvantages sometimes creep up too. That’s why a complete look at these trenchless sewer repair pros and cons is necessary before considering this technique.

List of the Pros of Trenchless Sewer Repair

1. It saves time when compared to the traditional access methods.
Technicians using the trench technique would spend several hours digging out around the damaged sewer line. Then several more hours to fill the trench back in were required before the repair was complete. That doesn’t include the time necessary to complete the fix in the first place. Not only does the trenchless sewer repair technique take much less time, but it also requires fewer workers to be involved with the project. Companies providing this service get a lot more done with less labor, boosting their profit margins.

2. It reduces consumer inconvenience during the repair process.
When a sewer line is compromised for homeowners, they no longer can use their home’s water system until technicians complete the repair. That means the occupants of the property must either haul all their water supplies in manually, then remove them the same way, or relocate to a different property until the project is finished. Before trenchless sewer repair, that could mean 7-14 days away from home. Now many repairs happen in 24-48 hours because there is such a substantial reduction in prep time.

3. It saves the landscaping of the homeowner.
Sewer line repairs require underground access, which means the landscaping along the pipe must be removed for the work to be done. That could cost homeowners thousands of dollars, depending on what was in the way of the repair technicians. Although a couple of holes must still be dug to access the line when performing trenchless sewer repair, there is much less damage to repair to the lawn, landscaping, or garden after the work is complete. The customer’s property gets back to normal faster and with fewer disruptions.

4. It saves money for the consumer.
The trenchless sewer repair option becomes less expensive than a traditional repair because there are no structural modifications required to complete the task. No digging equipment must be brought in to complete the repair work. Only two small holes are dug, which means the clean-up costs are much lower with this technique compared to other methods. Customers save money because there is less manual labor involved, the sewer line repair goes back in service faster, and even the technicians work less on the project.

Traditional trenching jobs could cost more than $20,000 to finish, depending on the amount of construction involved with the project. Homeowners save at least 30% on the final cost, with some saving upward of 50%, depending on their situation.

5. It reduces damage to the environment and urban infrastructure.
When you’re repairing either the upper or lower connections to the main sewer line, there is a good chance that the structure runs underneath your driveway, yard, or even your street. Because of the trenchless repair technique, technicians can access areas of the sewer line pipes without causing as much damage to the environment or the infrastructure as before. That means there are fewer street repair issues or ecological concerns because the repairs happen through the two access points instead.

6. It produces a higher-quality repair.
Trenchless sewer repair uses a cure-in-place liner to provide access to the main sewer line once again. When a full replacement is necessary for some reason, then polyethylene piping is used for the connection. Both options offer a better material to use than the older sewer pipes that were installed in most cities. The new products provide lines which are free of joints, reducing the impact of tree root invasions. There are fewer cracks and off-set pipes when compared to older work too.

When you live in a wet climate, like those in the Pacific Northwest, the trenchless sewer repair materials offer more resistance to corrosion than traditional systems.

7. It offers a system which functions better over a longer time.
Trenchless pipe repairs or replacements use seamless technology that can improve the function of the property’s connection to the main sewer line. These products last longer than traditional systems, with most requiring fewer future repairs, which reduces the long-term cost profile for the average homeowner too. The pipe liners used with these systems are even known to improve flow capacity, increase the size of the system, or add additional capacity to smaller homes.

Most trenchless systems come with a 50-year guarantee, even when used for a septic system instead of as a connection to a sewer line. The traditional methods are often guaranteed for 30 years or less.

8. It uses the current infrastructure to create a better system.
The system installation is a straightforward process with a trenchless sewer repair. A cable gets pulled through the pipe first. Then it connects to a bursting head. You attach the head to the new pipe, which splits the existing pipe, pushing it out of the way when the new pipe is pulled through. The new one is the same inside diameter as the old one, though some installations can increase the diameter of the pipe involved. Little damage occurs to the new pipe, often just scratches, and the work can often be completed in a day.

List of the Cons of Trenchless Sewer Repair

1. It may not be covered by homeowners’ insurance.
The property damage caused by a broken or clogged sewer line is not usually covered by the standard homeowners’ policy. Repairs required because of tree root penetration are not usually covered either. If you haven’t needed to worry about a sewer line repair yet, then check your policy to see if special insurance requirements, or a rider to your policy, is required for this cost to be covered. Nothing is worse than having an expensive repair to fund straight from your own pocket.

2. It may require work on clogs outside of the property line.
The typical urban sewage system connects the house to the public sewer main through the use of two pipes: the upper lateral and the lower lateral. The lower portion of this connection often falls outside of the property line. Should a clog occur there, many communities require the property owner to maintain and repair the connection. The city would only work on the public sewer main when issues occur there.

You must review all the paperwork included with your mortgage and housing contract with the city to understand who is responsible for what repairs outside of the property line, but still benefits your home. The cost of repairing a lower lateral issue can be upward of $50,000 using traditional repair methods.

3. It can sometimes be more expensive to use a trenchless repair technique.
The trenchless sewer repair technique does not work well when you have a lateral pipe that doesn’t sit below your driveway or expensive landscaping. You might find that older pipes with joints, or a collapsed pipe, could cause the costs of this repair option to be much higher than the traditional service. There is only one way to determine which option is best for your specific situation: through a professional evaluation of your problem.

4. It requires a provider with significant expertise.
This repair option for your sewer line requires skilled professionals using the proper equipment for the work required. You’re not going to solve this issue with a DIY approach. You must have the branch lines located for your drainage system, then have them exposed and reconnected as part of the process. There are times when a line must be cut, then relocated, to complete some issues. Different soils and pipes carry unique risks which technicians will identify when they come to evaluate your issue.

5. It is not a miracle solution.
There are several problems which a trenchless sewer repair technique handles well, but it cannot solve every potential problem that some homeowners face. There are times when the older sewer pipes were not installed at the proper pitch. The only way to correct that issue is through trenching. Obstructions sometimes must be removed before work is completed. If your pipe burst, there could be damage to other utilities which requires trenching too. Although this technique solves a lot of issues, there are some that still require the traditional method.

There are issues with this type of installation if water pools in a low spot in the line, especially with an upper lateral pipe with an incomplete pitch. Issues with sag, belly, and deflection pose significant concerns. Sand tends to be more forgiving than shale, but it all depends on local conditions.

6. It requires special permits and property or building codes.
Even though technicians dig just a couple of holes on your property to complete a trenchless sewer repair, there are still construction permits required before the work can start. Your local building codes still apply to the work as well. That means any work under the street or sidewalk requires a municipal inspection before the job is considered complete. Some municipalities do not approve of trenchless systems because they don’t fix community-specific problems which occur. Before agreeing to any project, even from a local contractor, make sure that the building codes for your property allow for this option.

These trenchless sewer repairs pros and cons can help homeowners save a bundle on this unexpected repair. Check your homeowners’ insurance today to see if this issue is covered by your policy. Update it as necessary to protect your finances. If you’re concerned about flooding in your home, then consider a separate flood insurance policy too if needed. With those supports in place, you’ll be able to choose a repair option which isn’t as disruptive to your lifestyle, and you can maintain the savings you’ve built up over time too.

About the Author of this Blog Post
Natalie Regoli is a seasoned writer, who is also our editor-in-chief. Our goal at Green Garage is to publish the most in depth content on the internet for every topic we write about. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.