What Is Trenchless Sewer Repair?

If you are experiencing sewer line problems, or perhaps if one of your neighbors is, you may have wondered, “What is trenchless sewer repair?” This relatively new technique is becoming increasingly more popular due to its many advantages. We answer the most common questions about trenchless sewer repair here so you can decide if it’s right for your San Diego property.

How Does Trenchless Sewer Repair Work?

Trenchless sewer repair is a modern-day alternative to the traditional method of digging up and replacing sewer pipe. There is no digging involved, and hence it is sometimes called “zero dig sewer repair.”

There are two types of trenchless sewer repair that can be employed, based on the situation involved. Usually, some imaging is needed to decide on a method, which is accomplished by inserting a special camera into the pipe to get a good look at it.


Also known as slip lining, pipelining does not destroy the old pipe. Instead, a new epoxy lining is inserted into the old pipe, creating a pipe within a pipe. There must be enough integrity to the old pipe to accomplish this, and it must be allowed by the local sanitary code, which it is in San Diego County.

This method is technically referred to as cured-in-place-pipe lining or CIPP. This is because the resin used in the lining must be heated and set in place before it can be used. At Brinks Services, this is the method we use with our clients needing sewer line repair. We have several types of liner at our disposal for different property needs.

Pipe bursting

With this method, the existing pipe is burst as a new pipe is laid in its place, usually of high-density polyethylene (HDPE). A bursting head that is wider than the current sewer pipe is pulled through the pipe, breaking it up as it goes. The head also pulls new pipe right behind it to take the old pipe’s place. The old pipe fragments remain in place.

What Causes Sewer Line Damage?

Your sewer line runs between your property and the municipal sewer line at the street (AKA the sewer main). Sometimes this is called a “lateral sewer line.” It is your responsibility to care for this part of the sewer system, but there are a number of things that can damage or block your line:

  • Aging pipe that cracks, collapses, corrodes, or sags
  • Low-quality pipe material
  • Tree and shrubbery root infiltration
  • Soil settling or moving around the pipe
  • Clogs formed by grease, feminine hygiene products, or other materials that shouldn’t go down the drain
  • Poorly installed or misaligned sewer piping

How Do You Know If You Need Sewer Pipe Repair?

You don’t want to wait for a sewer line problem to get out of hand before having it repaired. It’s good to know the signs that you need sewer repair so you can catch sewer pipe problems early. In many cases, your neighbors may also be experiencing these issues:

  • You notice ponding or mysterious leaking water in the backyard when it hasn’t rained in a long time. This is water coming from your sewer line that’s not going into the sewer main and instead leaking into your soil and plants. The water may accumulate above the leak, or it may migrate to the lowest-lying area of the yard.
  • You observe green grass growing in only one spot of the yard where sewage is leaking and acting as fertilizer like manure. You may often see the ponding mentioned above in conjunction with this.
  • You experience unpleasant smells in the yard or house, typically a sulfurous, rotten egg odor above where the sewer pipe runs outside or in your kitchen and/or bathroom.
  • You have a new infestation of vermin, such as rats, or insects like cockroaches attracted by the smell of waste.
  • You see cracks in your slab or foundation or other structural defects that weren’t there before. This can be caused by shifting and settling of the pipe and the soil around it, as well as by excess moisture.
  • Water drains slowly in the house, either in the kitchen or the bathroom, from multiple drains, not just one.
  • Wastewater or sewage backs up into your drains or fixtures, such as sinks and toilet bowls, because it’s not exiting properly to the sewer main.
  • You notice fluctuating water levels in the toilet bowl or gurgling when you flush the toilet.
  • You have a noteworthy increase in your water bill that isn’t reflected in your neighbors’ bills for the same type of water usage.
  • You see sudden mildew or mold accumulating near plumbing on the interior or exterior of your property.
  • You feel warm spots, have wet spots on your carpeting, or notice buckling of hardwood floors if the sewer pipe leak is under the home.
  • You can hear water running even when your taps and drains are not in use.

Usually, property owners try to fix these problems on their own, which only gives them time to get worse. A professional video inspection can reveal what’s causing the problem and let you get started on fixing it right away. This will save you money in the long term. In some instances, you may not even need sewer pipe repair. You might have another type of leak that needs fixing or a pipe we can clear with different techniques.

Is Trenchless Sewer Repair More or Less Expensive Than Digging?

You might be questioning how trenchless sewer repair stacks up when it comes to cost. On the surface, it’s about the same price per foot of pipe repaired, which is roughly $50 to $250 per foot. However, there are hidden costs with conventional sewer pipe repair that you won’t find with trenchless sewer repair.

To start, with old methods, you have to pay the price of excavating the existing sewer pipe, which can add upwards of $12 per foot to your job. This can become vastly more expensive if you have large items that have to be relocated above the pipe. Having to bring in a separate excavating company can elevate the price even more.

You may also have landscaping or hardscaping above your sewer pipe that would have to be dug up and replaced with conventional sewer repair, at great cost to you. Not only is it outrageously expensive to replace your garden, lawn, patio, or driveway, but it can also take years for plantings to return to their previous state. If you own a business or have a home office, this extra digging can also be disruptive, reduce parking, and cost you even more money.

How Long Does Trenchless Sewer Repair Last?

There’s another way trenchless sewer repair is more economical, and that’s its durability. Sewer pipes relined with the epoxy we use can last for decades — sometimes as long as 50 years!

The lining material is resistant to corrosion and more flexible than traditional sewer pipe, and it’s also designed to prevent the intrusion or re-intrusion of tree and shrub roots. You won’t have to go back and redo arduous sewer repairs in another ten years, like you often have to do with traditional sewer repair that involves digging.

What Are the Benefits of Trenchless Sewer Repair?

As well as being less expensive in the long run and more durable, trenchless sewer repair offers many other benefits in comparison to traditional repair methods, which we think you’ll appreciate.

It takes less time

Your time is valuable. No one these days has time to devote weeks of digging, pipe laying, and replanting the yard. With trenchless sewer repair, your job will be done in a few days’ time. You can get back to normal with barely a blip on your calendar. You’ll save time in the future too, because you won’t have to redo your sewer repair 10 years later, as often happens with old-fashioned digging repair methods.

It works in situations where digging is impossible

Sometimes traditional sewer repair with digging isn’t even possible, such as when the problem with a sewer pipe is under the home. Trenchless repair is usually feasible under home basements and slabs to remedy that situation with much less disruption or having to reroute all your pipes — another huge expense.

It’s safer

With trenchless sewer repair, you obviously don’t have big holes in your yard that can pose a hazard to kids and pets (or you in the dark!). You also don’t have to worry about the weight of heavy excavation machinery causing more problems, like shifting ground or damage to other pipes, such as water mains.

There’s no concern for electrical and gas lines either, which there is with conventional excavation repair. This not only makes trenchless sewage repair safer, but it shortens the repair timeline too.

It’s less disruptive to the environment

Digging is definitely more disruptive to your life, but it’s not good for the environment either. Removing plants and soil harms birds, bees, butterflies, and beneficial creatures like earthworms that are good for your garden. You don’t have to worry about that with trenchless sewer repair.

It’s ideal if you’re selling your property

If you have your property on the market or plan to list it, you don’t want the intrusion of regular sewer repair using excavation methods. This can hold up offers or a sale. Plus, your property won’t look as nice afterward unless you invest heavily in making your landscaping and hardscaping look just like it did before. Buyers will like knowing that the trenchless sewer repairs you have completed will last for several generations too.

Who Uses Trenchless Sewer Repair?

At Brinks Service, we have a broad list of clients who use trenchless sewer repair and prefer it to older, more expensive, and less efficient methods:

  • People who have invested time and money in their landscaping and hardscaping, such as gardens and patios, and don’t want to have to redo them after sewer excavation
  • Business owners who can’t weather long disruptions and digging that reduces access and parking
  • Property owners who have their properties on the market or plan to list them soon
  • Property owners on a budget or with limited funds for sewer pipe repairs
  • People looking for a more environmentally friendly method of sewer repair than digging and disturbing the natural habitat
  • Homeowners with kids and pets who want a safer repair method
  • Property owners who have electrical or gas lines running in the vicinity of their sewer pipe line
  • Property owners with broken or clogged sewer pipes under their homes or slabs
  • People who don’t have the time for conventional sewer repair that involves digging and replanting
  • Property owners who want the peace of mind of knowing their sewer pipe repair will last a long time and won’t need to be redone soon
  • Home or business owners with lots of trees and/or shrubbery on the property

Who Should You Call for Trenchless Sewer Repair in San Diego?

If trenchless sewer repair sounds right for your home or business, or if you think you might have a sewer line problem, call Brinks Service. Since 1979, we have been providing the San Diego metro area with a variety of outstanding plumbing services, including trenchless sewer repair when the technology became available.

Ask about our Maxliner and Easy Liner trenchless sewer repair systems. We can service home, small business, commercial, industrial, and municipal sewer lines. We have the most advanced technology for sewer repair today, and better yet, we have the happy customers to attest to our professionalism and quality of work.

Check out our website for all our services, including emergency plumbing and restoration work. And our accolades speak for themselves:

  • EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firm
  • Angie’s List Super Service Award
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited Business
  • BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics
  • The Talk Awards Excellence in Customer Satisfaction
  • Home Advisor Screened and Approved
  • MyZip Plumbers Excellent Service Award
  • Pulse of the City Award for Excellence in Customer Satisfaction
  • People Love Us on Yelp Award Recipient

Call us at 619-677-6388, or reach out online to let us know how we can help you. Don’t wait until your sewer line problem becomes even worse. Get in touch today.

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