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The thought of a sewer line repair cost can make your stomach drop. No, it is not a traditional DIY project and it is probably a good idea to call some plumbers to get some estimates. Yes, I have to be honest when I say: It is a big job and it may cost you a little to a lot. But it is job that is a necessity for your home. A sewer line repair can vary on a couple of things. Replacement estimates will probably stay in the ballpark of $1,500 too $4,500. The sewer line itself can cost between $200 per foot and $250 per foot. It all depends on the cost of materials used and the longevity of the labor needed for the job.

Sewer lines break because of many factors: a blockage, a cracked line, or a collapsed line can be the reason your sewage is backed up. It can cause additional havoc in your home including rat and insect infestation, indentions on your property, and not to mention the back-up situation! Replacing the line can be fixed by a couple of methods but, it cannot be determined exactly until you call a plumber to come evaluate. The pricing and issues we discussed can apply nationwide, and they were put together based on our experience providing sewer line repair in Indianapolis.

For starters, to understand a Sewer Line Repair and its cost, here are the symptoms and the other common questions that come along with it:

Symptoms of a Sewer Line Problem

Raw Sewer Gas Odor

  • This is a disgusting and not a pleasant smell to endure. Drains should not bring back a smell of the past and this can be a tell-tale sign of a sewer line problem. If it is only one drain acting up though, you could be experiencing some leftovers in that drain that just need to be cleaned out!
  • But if you are smelling this foul smell throughout your house through all the drains. Call a professional to come check it out!

Drain Clog

  • A traditional ole’ drain clog usually never cost too much. Licensed Plumbers go out every day to fix drain clogs. But, multiple drain clogs at the same time could be odd. Unless, the unthinkable happens and all of them have their own individual clog. Could happen. Not likely.
  • The cost to fix a clogged drain is night and day compared to the cost of a sewer line repair. Get this checked by a licensed plumber to see what your replacement costs options are.

The Grass is not always Greener on the Other Side

  • Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. But, a big grassy patch next to the not-so green patch in the yard could be a sign of a main sewer line break or a main water break as well. Remember, waste has the beauty to nourish the ground. Hence why your grass is “greener”!
  • Like mentioned, not only could this be a sign of a sewer line break. However, it could be a sign of a water main break. Click here to find out the symptoms of a main water break.

Indention in the Ground

  • This symptom kind of goes with what we mentioned above. If the yard looks like it has an indention that is somewhat damp and was not there before, this could be a sign that a sewer line (or main water line) is leaking water and waste.
  • Be careful walking on or around that indention. Depending on how severe the sewer line break is will determine how muddy and waste infested the area may be.

Gurgling Pipes

  • Do you have gurgling sounds coming up and amplifying into the bathroom? That gurgling sound could be water bubbling all the way from the sewer line. If this and some of the other signs are present. Call a licensed plumber for a repair!
  • If there is not a sewer line break. Gurgling pipes can be a sign of a blockage in the drainpipe. The cost of this repair is usually generally low.

Noticing Rats and Insects Around your Yard or Inside Your Home

  • If you are noticing rodents and insects around your home or specific places where indentions, damp, and greener grass exist. This could be a sign that a sewer problem is present.
  • The scarier part about this symptom is that the rats and bugs could even get inside your home because of the sewer break! Possibly causing you to call an exterminator!

Cracks on The Walls and the Foundation of your Home

  • It could become as serious as this. A repair to even your foundation may need to happen because of too much saturation in the soil around your home. Hours of sitting water could move the soil and cost you the structural base of your home.
  • This is a very frustrating symptom because it means you may need more work done other than cost to repair some sewer lines.

Noticeable Wet Spots on Floor

  • If there are wet spots on the floor with no explanation from anything above either A: You have a slab leak from a water line -or- B: You have a sewer leak. You can tell a difference between the two by the smell of the situation.
  • Both are jobs that we do here at Carter’s My Plumber and we are more than happy to help you with your plumbing needs!

Causes of Sewer Line Problems


  • Just like general plumbing, a blockage can be the cause of a sewer line fix or replacement. If over time you continually put grease, baby wipes, and other things down your drain you are not supposed too. This could lead into huge blockages and money overhaul jobs like a sewer line replacement.
  • Here is a full list of things you should not put down the drain.

Rust and Break-Down

  • All things wear down overtime because of natural causes. And the same can happen to sewer lines as well. When this type of corrosion happens, the line can break and collapse underground. Causing you to experience back-ups and the other symptoms that come along with it.
  • The sewer lining is naturally working against the weight of the ground above. It’s constant pressure against the line. The lining will probably break way sooner or later because of years of abuse.

Tree Roots

  • Tree roots are one of the top causes of sewer line repairs! Tree roots can be like python snakes attaching to their prey. The roots grow and wrap themselves around the pipe until eventually intruding or breaking the lining of the pipe. It is possible to just repair the lining of the sewer line without the hassle of replacing the whole pipe.
  • A camera inspection usually can be done to check if the sewer line is infested with roots!

Collapsed Drainpipe Under Slab

  • If a collapsed drainpipe under the stab is the problem. A licensed plumber will have to break your slab to repair the sewer. They will then make the necessary repair. As I mentioned above, sewer lines are between $200 per foot to $250 per foot, but it is possible for the line to break just feet of where it comes together under the house. This can reduce the sewer line repair cost dramatically.
  • When it comes to replacing a sewer line under a slab a thorough camera inspection must be done. Even a leak detection company may need to come to your home to detect exactly where the leak is for the repair.

How is a Sewer Line Fixed?

A camera inspection is one of the first methods of detection. A licensed plumber will feed a long camera down a drain leading it out to the existing sewer pipes and be able to see the problem. Licensed plumbers use technology like this to diagnose clogged drains and sewer pipe breaks. After it is determined that you do in fact have a sewer break. A licensed plumber will assess the tools and total manpower they will need. Sometimes a backhoe will be needed for digging the proper amount of depth needed to reach the pipe.

After the hole is dug, then the pipe will be replaced with a new one at the appropriate size. Sometimes you will see that the sewer line was cast iron which breaks like glass underneath the ground. Replacing just the points where the line was broken is a common practice versus replacing the whole sewer line from house to street. If the sewer lining was leaking underneath a slab, then be expecting a jack hammer to enter your home (and buy some ear plugs!) A jack hammer is used to break the concrete to make the pipe accessible to the plumber. Then the plumber will fix the pipe accordingly.

With new technology, licensed plumbers are also able to fix sewer pipes with trenchless machines. A trenchless pipe is a method where the sewer line is fixed without having to dig a big hole in your lawn. Think of it as a big sleeve that is replacing and acting as new lining for the sewer line. It is much less of a hassle to fix a leak like this versus the traditional, rip it out of the ground, and replace the line. Click here to learn more about trenchless repair.

After, the sewer line is fixed properly with all fittings and is no longer leaking the digging will be patched. The traditional licensed plumber will leave all jobs cleaner than how they found it. At Carter’s My Plumber, we make it our mission to restore a job to cleaner than we found it!

The amount of time it takes to replace a sewer line to the city sewer depends on a number of factors, including the type of repair that’s performed.

Sewer Line Replacement Cost

Sewer pipes run deeply underneath your house around tree roots. There is probability trees will intrude on sewer lines over time as they continue to grow and search for nutrients and water. The cost to repair and remove them from the line or lining will be in the ballpark of $100-$600.

But, like we already mentioned, $200 per foot/$250 per foot is an average cost to repair a full sewer line. The cost varies on what type of sewer line will be replaced, how much of the existing pipe will be replaced, and the general labor repair cost that is factored in for replacement costs. Some companies charge by the hour not by the job. You must be careful to monitor hourly jobs to prevent your bill from racking up. Though technology has advanced over the years, the cost and longevity of the job still lives on today.

Can I Ignore the Sewer Line Problem?

Not a good idea. A sewer line will become an even bigger problem if not fixed or replaced. One reason is because it can cause sewage to back-up into your home. You won’t be able to flush or let any type of liquid go down smoothly and “out” of your house. It will cause unsanitary conditions around you and an unbelievable bad sewer smell coming up through your drains.

Another (and even more important) reason is because you are risking further damage to your home. Interior back-up damage and foundational damage could happen to your home because of waste pooling around your property. Get it fixed before there is more to repair in your home!

The thought of the repair cost of $250 per foot can be a little unsettling. And, licensed plumbers have to bring a lot of tools, materials, and help to come dig up the yard to repair the sewer line. So, the best thing to do is just get an estimate.

When is The Sewer Line Not My Problem…But the City’s?

This is always a good question! Obviously, any break, block, or crack in the points between your home to the street is your problem and the cost is coming out of your pocket. But, after research, if a licensed plumber finds that the sewer line problem is actually coming from under and beyond the street you live on, it could be the city’s problem.

To make it simple, the city is responsible for the main underground sewer pipe under the street. The line is responsible for carrying your waste to the treatment plant. If it is a problem with the main line under the street, then odds are A LOT of people are having similar troubles you are experiencing. Other than that, sorry your city is not going to pay your bill of $250 per foot.

Is Sewer Line Breaks/Clogs Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

After you get a few estimates, you may wonder if this big repair cost is covered by homeowner’s insurance? The short answer is possibly. It depends on what type of homeowner’s insurance you have and what covers you if a crack ruins your sewer line. Even though sewer line problems can be caused by uncontrollable things, it does not mean you are going to be covered in that instance. It may cost you.

If a bad back-up is the aftermath of an act of nature blockage in the sewer then insurance may come into play. The cost to repair flooring and contents might fall under insurance. Whereas, the actual repair could be at your expense. So, some advice would be just to ask your insurance company what exactly is included in your coverage. It would be a good idea to get your agent out to your home to evaluate your needs.

Plumbing Projects

Plumbers in Indianapolis area 

Do you feel that a sewer line problem is the root of your problems? Carter’s My Plumber can help repair it! If you are in need of licensed plumber in Indianapolis to help you fix your sewer line give us a call. We will always give you the price before any work begins. Here at Carter’s My Plumber, we are committed to meeting the needs of our customers. We are knowledgeable, friendly, and will always give you a repair cost before any work begins.

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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