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page.titleSewer Replacement

Trenchless or Traditional

Petersen Plumbing locating a pipe.

Traditionally, all sewers were replaced by trenching down to the pipe and replacing either just the failed section, or the entire line if it all looked bad. A few years ago new methods started appearing on the market, from pipe-lining–which lines the inside of your existing pipe with a new plastic surface, to pipe-bursting–which forces a bursting-head thru your old pipe, causing it to break into pieces as a new pipe is dragged along after the bursting head.

Petersen Plumbing's excavator on a hillside job.

Both pipe lining and pipe-bursting can work, but neither method will correct the problem if your old sewer had a sag, low spot, or a flat spot that allowed material to gather and clogs to form. Both methods leave the new sewer following the same path as the old one, including all of the flaws that the old path had. In addition, pipe lining depends heavily on the quality of the lining material, and its durability over time. We’ve seen some lined systems work really well over the years, while others have failed catastrophically after a very short time.

Petersen Plumbing's backhoe on a job.

An even newer method in use today is called directional boring. In this case, a boring head is run thru the ground from the beginning of the length to be replaced, ending just outside your house, where it can be tied into your existing drain system. Our personal opinion, backed by decades in the industry, is that trenchless methods can work well for water services, but we do not like them for sewer replacements. We can’t see what is under the ground. If the boring head hits a rock and is deflected, you could be left with a sag or a bump in your sewer line, which is guaranteed to cause trouble in the future!

Ultimately, our recommendation will depend on the exact details of the situation we’re facing, the type of soil and rocks we’d be going thru, how deep the pipe is, what’s around it… We can’t make a recommendation without seeing the situation in person. Give us a call at 541-343-9339, we’d be happy to look at it!

In the meantime, here’s an interesting discussion on Angie’s List that describes a few of the pros and cons of the various techniques in common use today.

Is Trenchless Sewer Replacement a Good Idea? - Angie’s List

And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out our reviews on Angie’s List!