Kaitlyn Schott

By: Kaitlyn Schott on December 3rd, 2021

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3 Ways to Fix a Broken Sewer Line: Trench and Trench-less Options


Your plumber yammers on about your sewer line issues while you nod and make listening noises. But you’re not there. You’re in your head thinking:                                                                                             

  • They want to do what to my lawn?
  • What does that even mean?
  • What the heck are they even talking about?
  • Am I supposed to know this?
  • Don’t panic. Don’t panic.
  • #################### 
  • The number you are trying to reach is no longer in service.

“So, what would you like to do?” You snap out of your daze, confused and stressed state. And you have to make a decision. 

At Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating & Air, we know plumbing can be overwhelming, especially when you have to make an important decision. That’s why we created this blog to break down your options into bite-sized pieces.

By the end of this article, I promise you’ll confidently understand why sewer line issues can happen and the three ways to fix them. 


How Did I Get a Sewer Line Problem?

Your first question before anything else will be, “how did this bananas situation happen?” Everything was working fine, and then BOOM! Your sewer line turns on you.

I get where you’re coming from. Understanding why something happened can help you make a well-informed decision on how to fix it and prevent it from happening in the future.

There are a few ways you can get breakages in your sewer line. They are:

  • Cleaning frequently - If you use chemical drain cleaners, snake the lines, or hydro-jet your pipes too often (using pressurized water to fix blockages), your lines will become weak and break.
  • Earthquakes - Intense shifts in the earth can cause lines to unhook and leak.
  • Parking over lines - If you park on your lawn, your pipes will slowly collapse due to the weight.
  • Old age - Nothing lasts forever. In rare cases, piping can weaken due to old age.

To determine what caused your sewer line issue and how to proceed, your plumber will ask you some questions about your plumbing history and use a camera to check on the state of your pipes. 


What Are Your Options to Fix Your Sewer Line Problem?

What can you do about damaged pipes? You have a few options depending on what your plumber finds. They are:

  1. Trench - Requires your plumber to dig up your lawn to fix or replace your pipe.
  2. Trench-less - Requires minimal digging to fix or replace your pipe.
    1. ​Epoxy - Patching the pipe with epoxy and a synthetic liner with the help of machinery. 
    2. Pipe Burst - Breaking apart the old pipe with a drill tip and machinery to make room for a new line.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of these options.


Option 1: Trench 

If you’re looking for an affordable way to fix your sewer line issue, a trench option might be for you. Your plumber will dig up your old line and repair portions of it or replace it. They will then make sure all the proper connections are secured by running a camera through the line. Finally, they’ll cover your line with dirt and grass.

The limitation of this option is that your lawn might not look too pretty afterward. Your plumber will try to minimize the damage to your yard, but nature can be unpredictable. If you wanted your property to look like it did pre-trench, you’d have to spend a bit of money on landscaping.

Option 2: Trench-less Epoxy 

If you’re not in the mood to have your whole lawn dug up and your sewer line has minimal to moderate damage, epoxying might be right for you. Your plumber will dig a hole to access your sewer line and clean it out before epoxying.

Your plumber will then go through these steps:

  • Mix an epoxy resin
  • Measure and cut a cloth pipe liner
  • Fill the liner with epoxy
  • Insert the liner into your old pipe with a special machine
  • Cure the epoxy with hot water
  • Remove the liner 
  • Run a camera through the line to make sure all holes are entirely covered
  • Ensure all connections are secured
  • Cover the access hole

The limitation of this option is that it can take 1-2 hours for the epoxy to cure. If any holes aren’t patched with epoxy, the process will have to be repeated.


Option 3: Trench-less Pipe Burst

If your sewer line is too far gone to save and you don’t want a possible mess in your yard, a pipe burst will be for you. Your plumber will dig an access hole and run a specialized drill tip followed by the new pipe through your old pipe. The old sewer line will then break apart from the inside out. Afterward, your plumber will ensure everything is working correctly and cover the access hole.

The limitation of this method is the remains of the old pipe will still be in the ground around the newly installed line. The upside is that those pieces of old pipe will not interfere with the newly installed sewer line.


How to Choose The Best Sewer Line Option

Sewer line issues can be disgusting, frustrating, and confusing, but you can easily differentiate the options you have with this post. When you’re talking to your plumber, make sure to communicate your priorities.

  • Are you on a budget? 
  • Do you want to have your lawn look as close to pristine as possible after your service? 
  • Do you want to start fresh with your sewer line?

If you know what you want, your plumber can not only fix your problem but help you prepare for the future.

Want to know how using a drain cleaner could be the reason for your most recent sewer leak? Read our post on how drain cleaners can affect your pipes to know when chemical drain cleaners are okay to use and when they can cause severe damage to your sewer line.

If you’re still mulling over your options, call us at (310) 853-8690 or book an appointment online via our Drains Form. We can run a camera through your pipes to show you what state they’re in and walk you through the process to find the perfect solution for you.