Sewer Line Repair & Replacement

Sewer Line Pipe Repair & Replacement Services

A-1 Sewer & Drain Plumbing & Heating is your number one resource for sewer line repair and replacement. Whether you are looking for a full pipe replacement or to have your drain line repaired, we are the best in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Tabb, Grafton, Smithfield, James City County, and throughout Hampton Roads.

We have many specialties as a plumbing company, and sewer line replacement is at the top of our list.

Sewer lines can break or require replacement for many different reasons. Pipes can crack, break or collapse due to shifts in the soil caused by or land shifting over time from construction, or root infiltration from nearby trees.

Pipes can also degrade or excessively corrode if they were made from sub-standard materials when they were initially installed. It’s also possible for pipes to become “bellied,” or sunk into the ground in particular sections due to landscape conditions. When this happens, waste in the form of toilet paper or other sediments can build up in bellied pipe valleys and create blockages.

Whether it’s a damaged line in your home or a large commercial facility, A-1 Sewer & Drain Plumbing & Heating can properly diagnose all of your problem areas with fiber optic camera insertion, and repair or replace all of your piping as necessary using the most efficient and technologically advanced methods.

If you think your sewer line may need repair or replacement, call A-1 Sewer & Drain Plumbing & Heating for a free consultation.

sewer line repair

11 Common Questions and Answers About Sewer Line Repair and Replacement

While the easiest and least costly strategy is to prevent sewer line repairs and replacements in the first place, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes drain lines simply wear out, daily activities create buildup in the pipes, or Mother Nature intervenes in a negative way. If you are experiencing plumbing problems, you probably have more than a few questions about what you should do and how much it will cost. Here is a look at eleven of the most commonly asked questions about sewer line repairs and replacements.

How does a sewer line work?

It is helpful to understand the basics of how a sewer system works when you have plumbing problems. These details can give you a better idea as to what the issue actually is when you experience a problem.

All of the drains in your home connect to branch lines that travel to the main line, which is also known as the main stack. This includes the drains from your sinks, bathtubs, showers, washing machine, dishwasher, utility tubs, and toilets. The main line exits your home near its foundation and runs toward its connection with the city’s sewer system. Your main sewer pipe funnels the waste water into the city’s sewer line. If you don’t have public sewer lines, the main line travels to your septic system.

The entire drainage system works through gravity. The waste water runs downhill through sloped drain lines. Each branch line funnels waste into pipes that become increasingly larger in diameter as they run closer to the main line. Once the waste water enters the main line, it is funneled into the sewer system.

Each drain pipe is also connected to a vent system opening to the outside of your structure. This system allows air to enter the drain pipes, enabling the free flow of the waste water. The vent system also allows odors and gases to escape into the atmosphere.  Both your drain and vent lines must be clear in order to maintain the proper level of pressure and flow within your drain lines.

Plumbing vent pipes are also referred to as vent stacks. They are largely vertical pipes that connect to a main vent, which typically exits through the roof of your home.

The openings of the vent pipes must be kept clear of debris.  Debris entering your vent stack can lead to clogging and inhibit proper air flow. If the flow of air is restricted or cut off, the flow of waste water can slow down or stop completely, resulting in the symptoms of a clogged drain line, even if the drain itself is completely clear.  

What causes a sewer line back up?

Sewer lines can back up for many different reasons, including clogs from foreign objects, poor airflow, intrusion of tree roots, broken pipes or simply improper design. Just like any drain line in your home, a sewer line can get a clog. When it does, the end result is that your drainage system backs up. Clogs can occur when there is a buildup of foreign substances, such as hair, food, grease, or beauty products, getting into the drainage system. Of course, small toys sometimes find their way into a toilet, creating a messy situation that often requires a plumber’s help.

In addition to foreign objects getting into your system from inside of your house, nature can find its way into your drain lines from the outside as well. Over time, dirt and debris can enter the pipes through small cracks that inevitably appear through wear-and-tear or old age.

Tree roots, continuously applying pressure, can break through a pipe’s exterior, or find small cracks and infiltrate your sewer line in pursuit of water. Upon finding an excellent source of water the tree roots will continue to grow,taking up more and more space inside of the pipe, simultanously bringing in dirt and small stones with them. Eventually, the blockage becomes impassable, and your sewage backs up onto your property or inside of your home.

An improper design for your drain system, such as poor sloping conditions, can prevent gravity from doing its job of channeling your waste water into the sewer. Another design flaw could be a lack of proper air flow built into the system which can create a backward suction that prevents your waste water from draining properly. Right angles or hard turns in your drain system can also restrict the flow of waster water and lead to the accumulation of matter, which will also lead to clogging or slow running drains. Of course, there’s always the unusual circumstance of the city sewer being completely backed up and preventing your sewage from entering it.

Aging pipes that have outlived their usefulness can also cause your system to fail. Old pipes that become thin and brittle can crack or break, leading to inefficient drainage or stoppages.

The best way to figure out which problem your sewer system is experiencing is to bring in a professional plumber to diagnose the issue. Plumbers can use specialized cameras to explore the drain lines in search of cracks, breaks, or obstructions in your pipes.  Once identified, the proper tools and processes can be used to get your drains flowing again, as they were intended to.

How can I tell if my sewer line broken?

Slow draining and stoppages are clear signs that something unusual is going on with your plumbing system. If these signs are accompanied by foul odors or wet spots in your yard, it is possible that your sewer line is broken. Other signs that your sewer line might be broken include, indentation in or sagging in your hard, or an abnormally healthy lawn. The constant leakage of waste water can erode the soil causing the ground to sink, and while we think of this waste as unhealthy, for lawns it can act as fertilizer, leading to a richer fuller looking lawn around the areas of the leaks.  

sewer line repair

An underground evaluation by an experienced plumber is the only way to determine for certain whether the sewer line is cracked, broken, or repairable.

If you think your sewer line might be broken, you should act quickly. Cracked or broken sewer lines can cause serious damage to your property, may pose significant health risks, and get more expensive to repair or replace as the damage worsens.

Can you patch a sewer line?

Figuring out whether or not your broken sewer line is repairable is the first step in dealing with it. If the damage is small enough and restricted to a limited portion of your sewer line, it is possible that a patch can fix the problem. Repairing a broken sewer line with a patch is simpler, quicker, and less expensive than replacing a large portion or all of the sewer pipe.  If you suspect you have a leak, the sooner you act, the more likely you are that it can be patched, rather than having to be replaced.

How long do sewer lines last?

Sewer pipes are made from different materials. Prior to 1950’s, it was common for sewer pipes to be designed from clay or cast iron. Clay sewer pipes typically last approximately 50 to 60 years, whereas cast iron pipes are known to last somewhere between 80-100 years. However both of these materials can be expensive, difficult to work with, and not readily available. As result, most homes built after approximately 1980, tended to use sewer pipes that were made from ABS plastic or polyvinyl chloride. This style of pipe is known as PVC pipe and can last as long as 100 years. Eventually, all types of sewer pipes are going to experience deterioration or damage and need repair or replacement. If your home’s sewer pipes are more than a few decades old, it is likely they are outdated and you may want to consider having them evaluated by a professional plumber.

Regardless of the expected lifespan of a sewer line, a number of environmental factors can affect the condition of sewer pipes and its ultimate life expectancy. It is possible for these elements to lead to premature breakage and collapse of aging pipes. Environmental stressors include earthquakes, extremely cold temperatures, and ground tremors. Chlorinated water and hard water have both been known to cause damage to drainage pipes.  The condition and type of soil as well as movement can also contribute to earlier than expected failure of your sewer lines.

When should I replace my main sewer line?

Once you notice that your system is draining more slowly or experiencing frequent clogs, you may want to consider replacing your main sewer line. If you notice foul smells, puddles in the yard, or wet spots that fail to dry, it is probably time to call in a professional plumber to evaluate your drainage system. Additional signs of a failing sewer line include gurgling noises in the pipes or toilets and sinkholes in your yard.

How long does it take to replace sewer line?

The time needed to replace a sewer line depends on several factors. They include the length of pipe being replaced, the condition of the yard where the work is to take place, the type of system, and the skill of your plumbing professionals.

Traditional sewer pipe replacements take several days to complete. The plumbing professional must perform each of the following tasks:

  •   Dig a trench
  •   Evaluate existing damage
  •   Determine the full extent of the repair
  •   Remove the damaged section of pipe
  •   Install the new length of sewer pipe
  •   Evaluate the repair
  •   Fill in the trench

A trenchless sewer pipe replacement is somewhat different than a traditional one, and it takes less time to complete. Typically, a trenchless sewer pipe replacement takes only one or two days. With this type of repair, the plumber simply installs a new pipe in the existing tunnel or lines the old pipe with a specialized liner. This scenario eliminates the need to dig a trench to access the damaged pipe. This method is often employed when the damaged length of pipe sits underneath a driveway or sidewalk.

Do you need a permit to replace sewer line?

Large plumbing repairs, replacements, and installations require permits. Although national safety codes exist, your plumber must follow local and state regulations as well. Safety codes are in place to protect the homeowner as well as the public. Permits are required to ensure the work fulfills safety code regulations.

The repair or replacement of sewer lines is a large plumbing job. It requires the plumbing professional or homeowner to obtain a permit before any work is completed. Most counties list their plumbing permits online for you to see. If you hire a professional plumber to complete the work for you, he can let you know which permits are needed.

How often should I clean my sewer line?

Periodic cleaning can boost the longevity of your sewer line. It can help to avoid the kind of buildup and clogs that lead to slow drainage and stoppage. Ideally, you should have your sewer line cleaned at least once in a 24-month period. If you’ve experienced recent clogs or incidents of slow draining, you may want to have your sewer line cleaned as soon as possible to prevent additional problems.

Are broken sewer pipes covered by homeowners insurance?

The best way to determine whether or not your homeowner’s insurance policy covers the cost to replace broken sewer pipes is to call your agent. Standard policies typically do not cover damage caused by aging or neglect. In most cases, the damage to your sewer pipes must be sudden and unexpected. However, it is possible that your policy covers this type of situation, particularly if you have paid for a specialized rider to your policy. It is worth making a phone call to find out.

How much does it cost to replace sewer lines?

The cost to replace sewer lines depends on multiple factors. In general, the complexity of the repair/replacement is the most expensive line item on this type of job. The replacement of a sewer line is often complicated. It can include costs related to digging a trench through concrete rather than soil, digging wider trenches to locate shifted pipes, or replacing an entire drain line system.

The cost to replace a sewer line can escalate, depending on the length of sewer pipe that needs to be replaced. For example, if your damaged sewer line is located relatively close to its connection to the city’s sewer system, the replacement may involve a short length of pipe. On the other hand, if your damaged sewer line extends several hundred feet downhill, travels across your yard for several hundred more feet, and eventually reaches the connection to the city’s sewer system, the length of replacement pipe may be exceedingly long.

Standard fees for traditional pipe repair tend to average around $100 per linear foot, but can  ost of as much as $200 to $300 per linear foot of pipe if the pipes are under a concrete slab. A small and simple type of repair may cost only $250, while a large and complicated replacement can cost as much as $30,000 to complete.

While these numbers can be shocking, the represent some of the higher end of what one might have to pay for large and complicated jobs.  A typically homeowner job is more likely to average around $3,000 – $7,000. Many quality plumbing companies will offer affordable financing options, so you don’t have to foot the entire cost of the bill at one time.

It’s important to keep in mind that your repair may involve cleaning up any damage caused by improperly draining sewer lines. You may find it necessary to replace items damaged by clogged drain lines oozing sewage into your home.

With proper maintenance, your sewer line can run efficiently for many years. Remember to have it professionally cleaned at least once every two years and to have it serviced immediately if you notice signs of trouble. Your sewer line does more than simply take waste water away from your home. It also promotes fully operational plumbing appliances.