Sewer liners are great and work really well if you are looking to spend thousands of dollars for a temporary fix. The biggest issue when it comes to sewer liners is that we have non licensed plumbers who take advantage of the laymen and will convince them that a sewer liner will resolve their issues at half the price of a sewer line replacement. To the average homeowner who is potentially in desperate need, this may sound wonderful for a quick fix and of course the salesmen will not tell you that a sewer liner is completely illegal!
In NYC installing a sewer liner is illegal and is not permitted under the plumbing code. This was put into affect after property owners continued to pay thousands of dollars for sewer liners that only lasted 1-2 years and finally the city stepped in and made them illegal.
It is usually after 1-2 years after the liner is installed that the property owner begins to experience issues once again.
What is a sewer liner?
Sewer lining is the process of repairing cracked or broken pipes by sealing the inner walls of the pipe from the inside of the house to avoid excavating. The process usually includes the liner being inserted through the sewer line from the main house sewer trap.
The Pros & Cons
The benefit of a sewer liner is that you do not have to excavate in the front of your home and all of the work is done from the inside of the pipe. There is also the fact it will indeed cost less than a sewer line replacement however, the liner is only going to last a few years as opposed to a full line replacement which will last a lifetime.
As previously discussed the biggest downside is that the sewer liner is a temporary fix, it is not going to last for an extended period of time. Another important fact to consider is that the lining may not always work if the existing pipe is in such poor condition. For example, if the pipe is rotted out, missing sections or completely disjointed the sewer liner cannot be installed properly and will not seal the walls as it is supposed to.
In a case like this you may not find out that the liner was not effective until after you experience another back up. In this case you will most likely have to hire a plumber to try and clear the line and perform a camera inspection, and this is all after you have spent thousands of dollars to fix the issue in the first place. Unfortunately when dealing with older pipe there is no way to determine that the sewer lining will not work before hand.
Another common issue is if the sewer line expands more than 40′-50′ in length, in these cases the sewer liner may not be able to reach the point of your actual problem and a portion of sewer line will remain in its current condition.
The process of sewer lining is also referred to as trenchless pipe replacement which sounds a bit better than a sewer liner to some and of course may mask the fact that it is illegal in many states.