After storm damage, wear and tear, or cracking, a sewer line replacement is required. This guide will help you determine how much to pay and what ways you can save.
The main sewer line in your home connects to the public wastewater system and septic tanks. Blockages in the sewer line can lead to water pressure drops and even sewage backups. While you may be able to repair the line, in some cases the entire line will have to be replaced.
However, replacing sewer lines that are damaged or in need of repair can be costly. There are options to lower the cost, like a home warranty. This guide will explain pricing factors, how to save, and when you should replace your sewer line.
What is a Sewer Line Replacement?
Sometimes called the sewer lateral, the main sewer line that runs from your home to the public sewer system is the sewer lateral. The sewer lateral is the main line that drains stormwater to the street. You are not responsible for it, but you will be responsible for any cracks, clogs or leaks in the sewer line. This applies to private septic tank lateral lines.
These pipes are almost always underground so replacing them has meant digging the entire length of the ground. In trenchless repairs, this is not necessary. However, full sewer line replacement can be a costly job that requires professional plumbers and sewer contractors.
Cost of replacing sewer lines
The average cost of replacing a sewer line is $5,000. If there aren’t any major obstacles, the cost of a complete replacement is usually between $3,000 and $6,000. You’ll typically pay $50 to $200 per linear foot of sewer line. However, the cost of the pipe material and difficulty in accessing the existing pipes can impact the price. Additional expenses may include excavation, backfill, or landscaping.
Cost of replacing sewer lines per square foot
Line Length determines the cost of sewer lines. The length of the sewer pipe is the most important thing in determining the cost to replace it. A 25–60-foot sewer line might be sufficient for a dense urban area. On larger properties in rural areas, lines might be 75 feet long or longer. Prices can range between $50 and $200 per linear foot for sewer pipe replacement. Here’s an example of what you might pay for different lengths.
Cost of Replacing Sewer Lines by Material
Main sewer lines are made of 4-inch-diameter pipe. These are approximate prices for 48 feet of each material. Prices do not include any connectors or valves.
While the main cost factor is the length of the sewer pipe, it can also impact your bottom line. PVC and ABS, which are made of plastic, are the most popular because they are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to install. Copper and cast-iron pipes are also common, but they tend to be more expensive due to their strength.
Many American homes were equipped with Orangeburg pipes for their sewer lines during the post-World War II housing boom. These pipes were made of compressed wood fibers and coal tar. However, they weren’t as durable as they promised. Orangeburg piping may be found in some older homes, but they must be replaced by a modern alternative.
Cost of replacing sewer lines based on the type of repair
The traditional method of replacing a sewer line is to remove the old pipe and replace it. This might not be the best option for every sewer line. Trenchless sewer line repairs are methods that do not require digging in your yard or cracking concrete slabs. While they aren’t able to fix all plumbing problems, trenchless methods can be used to significantly reduce time and disruption. These are some methods to fix sewer lines.
A camera inspection is performed by the plumbing contractor to inspect the inside of the drain line. Hydro-jetting is used to clear clogs using pressurized water.
A pipe burst is a method for a full replacement. It forces new pipes through existing pipes. Each end of the sewer line is made with a hole. The machine pushes the pipe out the other side while the new pipe is being fed in.
Cured-in-place pipe lining (CIPP), is a method of repair that does not replace pipes. However, it can “heal” pipes without the need to be excavated. The sewer line is then stuffed with a soft, epoxy-coated liner. It forms an interior surface in the pipe that is new and unaffected once it has dried.
A resin lining is similar to CIPP. It can be sprayed inside the sewer line where a liner won’t work. This is also known as spin-casting.
These are the most common prices for trenchless methods to replace 48-foot sewer lines. Trenchless methods cost between $60 and $250 per linear foot.
Cost factors for sewer line replacement
What is the difference between replacing a sewer line for $2,000 and doing a job for $20,000? These are some factors that will impact the cost of your job:
- Installation and labor
- Trenchless or traditional repair
- Yard repairs needed after work is completed
Costs by Distance
A longer line requires more material, and digging and takes more time and labor. Longer pipes require more connectors which can lead to more weak points. The length of the pipes with bends or elbows will increase in cost and length.
Labor and Installation Costs
This is not a DIY job so it’s hard to determine what percentage of total sewer line repair costs goes to labor. Depending on their level of experience, professional plumbers charge between $50 and $150 per hour. Professionals who specialize in trenchless pipe repair or replacement charge a flat fee per linear foot.
Cost to Repair Your Yard or Driveway
After the trench is filled in, you will need to repair your yard and driveway. The average cost of $3,000 to $6,000 does not include these costs. Repaving an asphalt driveway will cost you $15 per square foot. Resodding a lawn will cost $0.50 to $2 per square foot.
Costs of Inspection
You will need to schedule an inspection when you notice any problems in your sewer line. To check for corrosion, blockages, cracks, and other issues, a contractor will use a sewer camera attached to a long snake. The average cost is $100-$500.
Costs Based on Where You are Located
If the sewer line is hard to reach or is encased in concrete slabs, it can result in additional costs. You will need to pay both demolition and repair costs if the contractor or plumber needs to cut through a wall or trench under a basement.
Cost of Traditional vs. Trenchless
While trenchless sewer line replacement and repair are less disruptive than traditional methods, they can still be quite costly. Trenchless repairs do not require excavation or yard repair. This makes trenchless repair less costly, especially if you have a lot of yard obstacles or pipes that are concrete-encased.
Costs of a Sewer Line Trench
Trenching is usually covered by professional sewer line replacement. It can cost anywhere from $4 to $12 per linear foot or $30 to $70 per cubic yard. It is not as simple as digging a hole, then filling it with dirt when the job is done. Before yard repairs can be started, it is important to recompact the soil, haul away any old pipes, and clean up any hazardous materials.
Other Sewer Line Repairs
You might not need to replace the entire sewer line after an inspection. These are common issues that may require a repair instead of a replacement.
Tree Root Removal
It is not unusual for a tree root to enter and grow through the sewer lines. A plumber might be able only to repair the pipe that has been damaged by tree roots. While the root removal will typically cost $100-$500 per tree root, the inspection, and repair of the damaged pipe will likely be $50-$200 per foot.
Cracked Pipe Replacement
It is possible to repair pipes that have cracked due to other factors, such as freezing temperatures, heavy foot traffic, or even extreme cold. While you’ll likely still pay $60-$250 for each foot of pipe, it will cost less than replacing an entire sewer system.
Line Collapsed Replacement
The water flow through a buried pipe will be slowed down if it has collapsed or sunk. This can lead to backups. However, in certain cases, trenchless repair may be possible. Collapsed pipes usually require replacement. This will cost between $50-$200 per ft for trenched repair/replacement and $60-$250 to do trenchless work.
How to Save Money on a Sewer Line Replacement
Many homeowners are hesitant to replace their sewer lines due to the high cost. Here are some ways to keep your costs down.
- Ask about trenchless replacements: These replacements can be as expensive or more per foot, but you won’t have to pay for yard cleanup or repair if your yard qualifies.
- Preparing your yard: If trenching is necessary, you should prepare your yard to prevent waste. You can cut and remove the sod, keep it watered and then move any plants or shrubs you wish to replant.
How to Minimize Repairs
Check to make sure your sewer line is covered by your insurance company before any problems arise. Even though regular policies do not usually cover sewer lines it is worth considering this extra coverage if you have an older line.
Maintain regular maintenance. This includes keeping trees and roots clear of the sewer line and scheduling annual inspections.
There are Pros and Cons of Replacement
- Upgrade to lighter, stronger pipes such as ABS or PVC
- Eliminates the risk of sewer traps and connections breaking down in old age
- It is less expensive to repair it in several sections over the years than to replace the entire thing.
- It is expensive to replace an entire sewer line in one go.
- It can be disruptive and require yard repairs
When is it Time to Replace your Sewer Line?
It can be difficult to determine if you can repair your sewer line or have it replaced with a plumbing camera inspection. Here are signs to ask for a sewer inspection:
- You may notice a stench of sewage in your yard or inside your house.
- Evidence of sewage backup
- Multiple drain clogs, frequent or frequent
- You have wet spots in your yard or basement
- When using an appliance that has water backing up, another one can be used.
Replacement of a sewer line by a professional or DIY
You can’t do sewer line repair or replacement by yourself. To reach the pipes, you would need to hire heavy machinery. You’ll need tools to take out and replace the pipe once you have reached it. It is too crucial to your home that you do not have the necessary tools, training, experience, and tools. It’s worth it to hire professional contractors who are experienced in replacing your sewer line, even though it is costly.
It’s a good idea for sewer line problems to be inspected by a professional camera inspector if you haven’t ruled out the possibility of water damage from your plumbing. Even though you may not like the results, you will know what your options are for sewer line repair and replacement. It can be expensive to replace sewer lines. If you are aware of the age or history of problems with your sewer line, it might be worth putting aside some money.
How to Choose a Professional Installer
Before making your final decision, we recommend you get an estimate from highly reputable contractors, like Smiley Drain Cleaning. Here are some questions you should ask when looking for a contractor who will replace your home’s sewer lines.
- Is your plumbing license current?
- Are you bonded and insured by your company?
- How does your company rate with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?
- How do past customers rate your service?
- How do you know if the sewer line needs repair or replacement?
- Do you allow me to receive my estimate in writing?
FAQs about Sewer Line Replacement Prices
What is the average cost for a sewer line replacement project?
Average sewer line replacement costs range from $3,000 to $6,000+.
What is the cost of replacing a sewer line?
The cost to replace sewer lines is typical $50-$200 per linear foot.
What material is used to make sewer lines?
Most sewer lines are made of ABS or PVS piping. Some sewer lines can still be made from copper or cast iron. The sewer line in older homes may be made from ceramic, concrete, or Orangeburg pipes.