In the past, homeowners used to shudder if they ever uttered the words “broken sewer line.” There are plenty of reasons why a sewer line or main water line can break, and none of them are good. In the past, fixing this problem used to mean plumbers tearing apart your front yard with heavy digging equipment, cutting the main line out, and then replacing it with an entirely new pipe. The entire process made a tremendous mess, took weeks, and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Today, digging your entire property up to replace a sewer line is a thing of the past. Thanks to new technology that uses your old pipe as a “frame” for a replacement, plumbers can now install a durable, long-lasting replacement in just a few short hours without completely digging up your yard. Known as “trenchless” pipe replacement, this revolutionary process only requires two small holes in your yard, and costs only a small fraction of what this dreaded service used to run.
The Trenchless Process
Trenchless pipe replacement is a pretty simple concept: using your old pipe as a guide, your plumber runs a new “liner” through the sewer line, creating a new, sealed pathway for sewage to travel through. No more root intrusion, corrosion, or collapsed segments.
The process begins with a hydro jetting service, a specialized process that obliterates clogs and cleans the sidewalls of your sewer line. Once the line is clean and clear, your plumber then does a video inspection of the line to determine the size of your sewer line, where the flaw is, and how large of a replacement pipe they need to install.
From there, the replacement crew digs two small holes in your property, one on each end of the damaged segment that’s going to be replaced, in order to grant them access to the sewer line. Two holes are cut in the main sewer line, one on each end of the line. The plumbing crew then uses these holes to feed a special machine known as a “puller” through the line.
Then it’s time to prepare your new pipe. The new line probably looks nothing like what you’d expect: it starts as a piece of canvas that’s unrolled and then soaked in a special resin. Inside this canvas are two additional layers: a rubber membrane that inflates, and then a plastic membrane to separate the two and prevent the rubber membrane from sticking to the resin-coated canvas.
All three of these layers are then fed into your damaged sewer line and pulled through to the other end by the puller machine. Once the new line is fed all the way through, the plumbing crew then inflates the rubber membrane. The membrane blows up like a balloon, forcing the canvas to fit into the dimensions of your sewer line. Once the resin-coated canvas dries, it becomes water-tight, rock-solid, and capable of serving your home for as many as 100 years or more!
Your plumber then deflates the rubber membrane and pulls it, along with the plastic liner, out of your now-hardened sewer liner. The pipes are then re-sealed and checked for leaks before they’re re-buried.
The entire process takes about four to six hours total and leaves you with a sewer line that is virtually brand-new again. These re-lined pipes are resistant to intrusion from roots, don’t rust or corrode from wastewater, and require very little maintenance.
About the Author: William Iliev, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Charlotte
William has been a trusted plumber and owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Charlotte since 2003. With over 15 years to back him, William has experience with a wide range of plumbing-related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in water heater services, tree root plumbing repairs, and more.