Should You Clean Your Sewer Line or Repair Your Sewer Line?
February 28, 2016

Most property owners want to avoid repairing their sewer line due to the expense and the inconvenience of digging outside of the house. In many cases they will continue to “maintain” the sewer line by clearing it with a sewer snake and water jet every time there is a backup. There are a few important factors that should be considered when working on the “maintenance plan” and compare these factors to the details and cost included in repairing the sewer pipe.

Why is the sewer line backing up?

You first want to identify the actual problem that is causing the sewer to backup and understand that a fully functional sewer does not experience backups if maintained properly. Many people continue to clear their sewer line without actually understanding the problem, if there is a permanent resolution and if the cleaning process will last more than three weeks.

Is the sewer backing up due to roots? If yes, you should always perform a routine root cleaning of the sewer pipe in anticipation of large roots penetrating through your sewer pipe and avoid larger roots from crushing your pipe. There is a point when roots are intruding the sewer for an extended period of time and you will no longer be able to clear the pipe, due to the volume and size of roots that have grown in your sewer line.

Roots in sewer pipe
Root of the problem!

If your pipe is cracked or has a belly, you are waiting for a disaster. Unfortunately there is no turning back from either of these issues and will only get worst over time. It is in the drain company’s best interest to continue to clear your line without really assisting you in understanding the severity of your sewer problems. You should always request a camera inspection of the sewer pipe and have the technician explain exactly what is wrong with your pipe and how long the maintenance plan will continue to work. It is common for a homeowner to spend thousands of dollars clearing a sewer line when this money could have been allocated towards a permanent resolution with a sewer line repair or replacement.

Camera inspection showing cracked sewer
Camera inspection showing cracked sewer

How often is the pipe backing up?

If your sewer line is backing up more than once in a six month period, it is safe to assume that there is a large problem that is only getting worse with time. It is always suggested to get an estimate for repairing or replacing the pipe and weigh it against the cost of clearing your sewer line for a period of two years. You may end up spending more money cleaning the pipe than it would actually cost to dig and repair the pipe.

If you are experiencing backups on an annual basis, it is ok to continue to maintain the pipe, make sure the issue is not getting worse and perform a camera inspection on the pipe every couple of years.

Understanding the repair vs. replacement process

When hiring a licensed and bonded water main and sewer contractor, the process is more straight forward and streamlined than one would think. There are contractors who specialize in sewer line repairs and perform the process every single day.

The process starts with obtaining all of the required DEP and DOT permits for opening the property, sidewalk or roadway. In most cases the entire repair process takes one day, where the full replacement process may take two to three days, including all DEP inspections.

Digging for sewer repair
Digging for sewer repair

Installing new cast iron sewer pipe
Installing new cast iron sewer pipe

Watch a video on the sewer line installation process here