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How Long Does it Take to Replace a Line?

The amount of time it takes to replace a line to the city sewer depends on a number of factors, including the type of repair that’s performed. For a trenchless sewer line repair method, the work can often be completed in as little as two days. For the traditional sewer line replacement method, homeowners can expect the process to last several days.

Homeowners depend on a fully-functional sewer line to transport liquid and solid waste away from their homes. The problem is that, over time, the sewer line may become broken. This can happen due to soft clogs, e.g., a buildup of paper products in the line. Or, it can happen due to the incursion of a tree root. Regardless of the reason for a faulty line, homeowners will need to make repair a top priority.

The question is, how long does it actually take to replace a sewer line? Here’s a quick estimate from Carter’s My Plumber, a sewer line repair service proudly assisting homeowners in the Indianapolis, IN area. If you’re local, call to ask us about trenchless sewer line repair in Indianapolis!

Sewer Line Installation Trench
Sewer Line Installation Trench

How Long Does it Take to Clean out a Main Sewer Line?

That is totally dependent on what the clog is. Clogs caused by tree roots can take minutes to several hours depending on the amount and length of the infestation. A soft clog usually clears much faster than roots as it tends to be mostly toilet paper or feminine hygiene products. Then there’s grease, which is generally the most difficult to remove. This is due to the fact that once it cools it becomes very solid and the only way to remove it is with hot water and a high-pressure jet. These clogs usually take hours to get through.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Sewer Line?

The total sewer line repair cost is dependent on the depth and length of the line. The longer and deeper, the more expensive. Prices can be anywhere from a couple thousand to over $20,000. The method of repair is also pertinent. A traditional dig will be cheaper than a pipe burst or a reline. While these methods are more expensive than a traditional dig, you don’t have the mound from house to street.

Additional Questions About Sewer Line Replacements & Repairs

In most cases, sewer lines last for 50 years or more. But there are some oddball materials like Orangeburg pipe or thin-walled drainage pipe that may not make it that long due to poor design or installation. By contrast, clay lines may last for up to 60 years, and the newer PVC pipes will last longer still.

There are a couple of different options to make these kinds of sewer line repairs.

You can use a pipe patch method. With this approach, the tech would mix up fiberglass resin, then apply it to a piece of fiberglass that is wrapped around a rubber bladder attached to a series of PVC air lines and measured out to the spot of the crack. These bladders are then inflated and allowed to sit for 90 – 120 minutes. This creates a two-to-four-foot opening to repair the crack.

Another method would be to excavate the spot and remove the cracked pipe and replace it with a new piece of PVC and attach it to the existing line. Sewer line replacements are an increasingly common option, as the quality of PVC piping just gets better and better.

Another method is to reline the entire line. This is done by installing a fiberglass liner inside the existing line. This type of repair is completed in a manner very similar to the pipe patch method only it’s the full line, not just a spot. 

What causes broken sewers in the first place? Keep in mind that sewer lines don’t normally collapse unless some type of physical damage has been done. For example, a contractor has bored through the line, or the line was very shallow to begin with and had some type of heavy traffic over it. In some cases, they will break down due to root infiltration.

PVC pipe has a life span of 100+ years when properly installed underground. Tests on properly installed lines of 30 years show no signs of depreciation.

Yes. This happens so that the water may be treated and all detergents are removed.

There is no real timeline for a sewer line to clog or back up. Clogs can happen for a number of different reasons, often involving the backup of paper products or wipes as well as toys, condoms, grease, or soap.

The best way to unclog a sewer line without a cable (snake) is to jet it with a high-pressure jet machine. This uses high-pressure water, usually 900-2000 psi, in order to clear the line of rocks, roots, or soft clogs. The hose has a series of heads with different types of jets that cut through the clog and wash it down the line.

There are a couple of different things that can happen when a sewer line breaks. You can get a clog which would cause the sewage to back up into the home or come up the cleanout, leaving you with raw sewage in the yard. If the break is bad enough and allows the line to still flow it can cause a sinkhole in the yard… or even worse, in the street.

This would generally be repaired by excavating at the sight of the leak, then removing and replacing the bad pipe.

This is dependent on where you live. It varies from city to city. In some cities, the answer is yes, and the price varies from city to city as well.

It’s also worth mentioning that when purchasing a home or business it’s always a good idea to have a camera inspection of the sewer. This can provide some insight into whether there are any current or looming problems with the sewer line or an imminent need for sewer repairs.

Kelson Carter

Article reviewed by:

Kelson Carter, aka, The Prince of Plumbing

Kelson is a 3rd generation Plumbing Contractor. His family business is located in Greenwood, Indiana, and provides Residential Plumbing Service to the Indianapolis Metro market.

Kelson grew up watching his grandfather and father do plumbing. After graduating high school, Kelson went to Trade School and became a Licensed Master Plumber and Licensed Plumbing Contractor. He is also Certified in Backflow Prevention. He currently owns and operates Carter's My Plumber with his parents.


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