The Do’s and Dont’s When Replacing Your Sewer Line

Replacing your sewer line is not the everyday occurrence; on average a property owner will experience a sewer replacement once in a lifetime.  There are several important factors you should consider when discussing any type of sewer work.


Have you had a camera inspection?

Camera inside sewer

Camera inside sewer

It is very important to obtain as much factual information before making the best decision to relieve your current sewer problems. Do not rely on your plumber or any other sewer contractor telling you “the sewer line must be replaced” just because you have had a backup. It is important to hire a reputable company to perform a camera inspection on the sewer line. The camera will show exactly what is going on inside your pipe, the exact location of your problem and the severity of your broken sewer. If you have water sitting in your pipe with no way to exit, you may not be able to perform a camera inspection. If this is the case you most likely have a broken pipe that must be repaired, your plumber should be able to locate the location of the break with a sewer snake. 


Experiencing backups for months or years?

If you have been experiencing sewer backups for several years, the pipe is most likely experiencing root infestation and/or has a break throughout the pipe.  Multiple years of sewer backups usually results in having to have the pipe repaired or replaced in full. If you are experiencing your first sewer backup over the previous months, it is possible that the line can be unclogged and should be maintained on a regular basis. If you are lucky enough to catch a sewer problem before it becomes an actual crack or break in the pipe, it is highly suggested to perform annual maintenance on the pipe to avoid any future problems. 

Over 95 yrs experience bar


What material is your sewer pipe made of?

Old clay pipe

Old clay pipe

New cast iron

New cast iron

If you have a clay sewer line and are experiencing problems with the sewer, it is strongly suggested to replace the entire sewer line. If you have a clay sewer line and have begun to experience a problem with the pipe, it is a guarantee that you will continue to experience these problems which will only get worst over time. In some cases it may make sense to perform a repair on a section of the clay sewer pipe however, it may open Pandora’s Box over the coming months, and years. Repairing the pipe should be discussed in detail with your licensed sewer and water main contractor. 

These same rules apply when factoring the age of your sewer line, there are many pros and cons to be factored even if you your current sewer line is made of cast iron.


Do you have any trees within 40’ of you property?

Roots in clay sewer

Roots in clay sewer

Roots are the leading cause of sewer line backups and are hard to maintain once they have entered the sewer line. Most people assume that they are free of any root related problems as long as they do not have a tree fronting their home. This is completely inaccurate as tree roots tend to grown more than double the length of the tree branches growing above ground. It is very common that tree roots will extend up to 50’ from the base of the tree and possibly even longer with large trees.  It is always a good idea to perform preventative maintenance on your sewer line if you have a tree near your home. 


When has your roadway been resurfaced?

Harris opens new roadway

Harris opens new roadway

If you are aware of any plans for the NYC DOT to re-pave the roadway fronting your home, you should have an inspection performed on your sewer line. If the inspection reports that you have a few issues that may become increasingly worse over the next few months and years, you should consider replacing the sewer before the roadway is restored. If a newly paved roadway has to be opened within the first 5 years of being resurfaced, the contractor must obtain special permits and a soil compaction test when restoring the street. The result may be anywhere from $1000 to $3000 of additional cost depending the layout of your home and the city sewer main. 


Are you planning a renovation of your home?

It is a good idea to inspect your sewer line if you are planning on making any changes to the front of your home or the basement. It is common that a property owner will make an extension on the house, install new concrete, pavers or build a porch, and at this point find out that the sewer line has a crack in it. This may ends up being a homeowner’s worst nightmare!


Are you planning on selling your home?

A new and fully functional sewer line is always a great selling point when putting a house on the market. It is common that a home is close to closing when the house inspector first becomes aware of a problem with the sewer line, this may hold up the closing for weeks or months.  It is also common that the new homeowner first becomes aware of the sewer problem once they have moved into the home which always becomes a problem questioning the previous homeowner’s intentions. 


Knowing your sewer line

We at Harris Water and Sewer always suggest that you become familiar with the current conditions of your water main and sewer pipes. If you have yet to experience any problems with your pipe, it is suggested to invest a few hundred dollars in a sewer line inspection. Do not wait for a problem to occur, allow yourself to make an educated decision based on factual information. It is important to understand all of the variables that may impact your home and the sewer line for years to come.  

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