5 Star Plumbing | Main Sewer Line Replacement: Essential Guide
4616 Roseville Rd #109, North Highlands, CA 95660
E-mail us: us@5-starplumbing.com
Follow us:
Page Title BG

Main Sewer Line Replacement: Essential Guide

5 Star Plumbing > Blog > Main Sewer Line Replacement: Essential Guide
A sewer line is a critical component of your home’s plumbing system, responsible for carrying waste water away from your property and into the municipal sewer system or septic tank. When this essential infrastructure fails, it can lead to serious problems, such as sewage backups, foul odors, and damage to your home’s foundation. In this article, we’ll explore when sewer line replacement is necessary, the causes of sewer line damage, and the methods used to replace a failing sewer line.

When to Consider Sewer Line Replacement

Several signs can indicate that your sewer line may need to be replaced:
  1. Age of the sewer line: If your home is over 50 years old and has never had a sewer line replacement, it may be time to consider one.
  2. Frequent clogs and backups: If you experience recurring clogs or sewage backups despite regular drain cleaning, your sewer line may be damaged.
  3. Slow drains throughout the house: When multiple drains in your home are draining slowly, it could point to a problem with the main sewer line.
  4. Foul odors emanating from drains: Persistent, unpleasant odors coming from your drains may indicate a break or leak in the sewer line.
  5. Visible damage to the sewer line: If you notice cracks, corrosion, or other visible damage to your sewer line during an inspection, replacement may be necessary.
Deep trench with green sewer pipes and shoring equipment in place, displaying safety precautions taken during sewer line replacement.

Causes of Sewer Line Damage

Understanding the causes of sewer line damage can help you prevent future issues and determine when a sewer line replacement is needed:
  1. Tree root intrusion: As tree roots grow, they can infiltrate and damage sewer lines, causing cracks, blockages, and collapsed pipes.
  2. Shifting or settling soil: Changes in soil conditions, such as erosion or excessive moisture, can cause the ground to shift, putting pressure on sewer lines and leading to damage.
  3. Corrosion of older pipes: Older sewer lines made of materials like cast iron or clay are prone to corrosion over time, weakening the pipes and making them more susceptible to damage.
  4. Ground movement due to earthquakes or construction: Seismic activity or nearby construction projects can cause the ground to move, potentially damaging sewer lines.
  5. Improper installation or lack of maintenance: If a sewer line was installed incorrectly or has not received regular maintenance, it may be more likely to fail prematurely.
Trench revealing new green PVC sewer pipes with fittings and open ends, amidst brown earth, during a sewer line replacement operation.

Sewer Line Replacement Methods

When a sewer line replacement is necessary, there are two primary methods plumbers can use:

Traditional trenching

  1. Process and timeline: Traditional trenching involves excavating the entire length of the damaged sewer line, removing the old pipe, and installing a new one. This process can be time-consuming and may take several days to complete, depending on the extent of the damage and the length of the sewer line.
  2. Pros and cons: While traditional trenching is an effective way to replace a sewer line, it can be disruptive to your landscaping and may require extensive restoration work after the project is complete. However, it allows for a complete visual inspection of the sewer line and can be necessary if the damage is severe or widespread.

Trenchless sewer line replacement

Trenchless methods have gained popularity in recent years due to their less invasive nature and faster completion times. Two common trenchless techniques are:
  1. Pipe bursting: This method involves inserting a bursting head into the damaged sewer line and using hydraulic pressure to break the old pipe while simultaneously pulling a new pipe into place. The new pipe is typically made of durable materials like HDPE (high-density polyethylene).
  2. Cured-in-place piping (CIPP): CIPP involves inserting a flexible, resin-coated liner into the damaged sewer line. The liner is then inflated and allowed to cure, creating a new pipe within the old one.
Advantages of trenchless methods: Trenchless sewer line replacement methods are generally faster, less disruptive to landscaping, and more cost-effective than traditional trenching. They also require less extensive restoration work after the project is complete. Green PVC sewer pipe with a black coupling, installed in a narrow trench with rocky soil, signifying part of a sewer line replacement process

Choosing the Right Plumber for Sewer Line Replacement

When faced with a sewer line replacement, it’s crucial to choose the right plumber for the job:
  1. Importance of hiring a licensed and experienced plumber: Look for a plumber who is licensed, insured, and has extensive experience with sewer line replacement projects.
  2. Questions to ask potential plumbers: Inquire about their experience, the methods they use for sewer line replacement, and their process for obtaining necessary permits and inspections.
  3. Obtaining and comparing quotes: Get detailed quotes from multiple plumbers, ensuring that they include all aspects of the project, such as excavation, materials, labor, and restoration.
  4. Verifying insurance and warranties: Confirm that the plumber you choose is insured and offers warranties on their work and the materials used.
A black sewer pipe with connection to a solid black pipe, lying in a dirt trench, part of a larger sewer line replacement project

Preventive Maintenance for Your New Sewer Line

After a sewer line replacement, it’s essential to take steps to maintain your new sewer line and prevent future issues:
  1. Regular inspections and cleanings: Schedule annual sewer line inspections and cleanings to identify and address any potential problems early on.
  2. Proper use and disposal of waste: Avoid flushing non-biodegradable items, such as wipes, feminine hygiene products, and grease, down your drains to prevent clogs and damage to your sewer line.
  3. Planting trees and shrubs away from the sewer line: When landscaping, be mindful of the location of your sewer line and plant trees and shrubs a safe distance away to prevent root intrusion.
  4. Protecting the sewer line during home renovations or landscaping projects: If you’re planning any home renovations or landscaping projects, make sure to locate and protect your sewer line to avoid accidental damage.


Sewer line replacement is a significant undertaking, but it’s crucial to address sewer line issues promptly to avoid more serious problems down the road. By understanding the signs that indicate a need for replacement, the causes of sewer line damage, and the available replacement methods, you can make an informed decision when the time comes. Remember to choose a reputable, experienced plumber and take steps to maintain your new sewer line to protect your home and plumbing system for years to come. If you suspect that your sewer line may need to be replaced, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional plumber to assess your situation and determine the best course of action. Freshly applied asphalt patch over trench for new sewer line installation, with shadow of a person and a camera tripod visible, highlighting recent sewer line replacement work

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does a sewer line replacement typically take?  A: The duration of a sewer line replacement project depends on various factors, such as the method used (traditional trenching or trenchless), the length of the sewer line, and the extent of the damage. On average, a traditional sewer line replacement can take anywhere from 3 to 5 days, while trenchless methods like pipe bursting or CIPP can often be completed in 1 to 2 days. However, more complex projects may take longer. Your plumber should provide you with an estimated timeline before starting the sewer line replacement. Q: Will my homeowner’s insurance cover the cost of a sewer line replacement?  A: In most cases, standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover sewer line replacements, as they are considered a maintenance issue. However, some policies may offer additional coverage for sewer line damage if it is caused by a covered peril, such as an earthquake or tree root damage. It’s best to review your specific policy and contact your insurance provider to determine if any portion of your sewer line replacement may be covered. Q: Can I replace my sewer line myself, or do I need to hire a professional plumber?  A: While it may be tempting to attempt a sewer line replacement yourself to save money, it is highly recommended to hire a professional, licensed plumber for this complex and labor-intensive task. Sewer line replacement requires specialized knowledge, tools, and equipment to ensure the job is done correctly and in compliance with local building codes and regulations. Attempting a DIY sewer line replacement can lead to further damage, costly mistakes, and potential health hazards. Always trust a professional plumber with the experience and expertise necessary to handle your sewer line replacement project safely and effectively.
Peter, plumber

I bring over 9 years of dedicated plumbing experience to the table. As a seasoned professional in the plumbing industry, I've tackled a wide range of projects, from residential repairs to large-scale commercial installations.

Leave a Comment