What Does Sewer Line Replacement Cost?

Problematic plumbing can quickly become costly for homeowners, especially considering most home insurance policies don’t cover sewer line replacements. The unfortunate reality is old pipes that have likely been degrading or corroding for decades beneath your home. Soggy lawns, slow-draining showers and smelly sewage odors are just a few signs your plumbing needs professional help. These symptoms typically indicate a blockage or crack in your home’s main sewer pipe, known as a sewer lateral, but a collapsed pipe can also cause severe damage to your property.

The sooner you seek assistance, the better chance you have of cutting back on costs before irreversible damage occurs. By taking fast action, homeowners can capitalize on more affordable opportunities to restore home sewer laterals. Sewer line replacement costs often come as a shock if you’re not prepared, but knowing all of the available options allows you to ultimately make the most cost-effective decision for your home.

What is sewer line replacement?

Sewer line replacement is the process of digging up an old, degraded sewer line and installing a new sewer line to restore proper plumbing flow. A sewer line replacement is only possible through extensive digging of your property in order to access the damaged pipe. Contractors dig a trench in your front yard, driveway, basement or wherever the impacted pipe is located in order to remove the pipe. Once pipes are exposed, they’re surveyed to determine the extent of the damage and whether the entire system needs replacing or just a portion of the pipe. The new pipe is then installed in its place.

For most homeowners, a ditch in the front yard is far from ideal. That’s why keeping an eye on unusual occurrences with your plumbing fixtures is essential. In doing so, homeowners are able to spot warning signs early, before pipes are past the point of no return and a destructive replacement is the only option.

How do you know when your sewer line needs to be replaced?

If you’re worried your home needs sewer line replacement or has another underlying plumbing issue, you should always act with urgency before you’re stuck without reliable plumbing. Telltale warning signs you should watch out for include:

  1. Standing water in sinks or bathtubs
  2. Slow drains
  3. Foul sewer odors
  4. Gurgling drain sounds, indicating there’s an interruption to water flow
  5. Backed-up sewers
  6. Sinkholes and sunken spots appearing in your yard
  7. An increase in pests at your property (a broken sewer pipe appeals to bugs and rodents alike)
  8. Increasingly expensive water bills

If your home is plagued by any of these ongoing plumbing concerns, contact a local plumber or sewer pipe professional right away. Pipes can quit performing for any number of reasons, including freezing winter temperatures, corrosion, tree roots or other debris blocking flow, regularly flushing items not intended to go down the toilet, such as hygiene products or wet wipes, or simply old age.

General wear and tear and misuse of your plumbing fixtures can lead to a cracked pipe or collapsed pipe, which contributes to the early symptoms you’ll see in your home. Contractors are trained to evaluate circumstances on a case by case basis, so you should never settle for a one-size-fits-all solution. If a sewer line replacement is recommended, it’s important to be prepared and consider all of the potential factors that influence the cost of the procedure.

What are the cost factors of sewer line replacement?

No home sewer is the same, so plumbing professionals decide sewer line replacement costs on a project basis. Many contractors charge a dollar amount per each foot of pipe being replaced, but other determining factors include accessibility of the pipe, the extent of the damage, climate conditions and pipe materials.

Sewer Pipe Line Accessibility and Conditions

The ability to access the pipe often dictates the price range of the process. Since contractors must dig to reach the pipe in the ground, pipes that require more labor to reach will rack up higher costs. For example, if your sewer pipes are located underneath thick concrete slabs in the driveway or underneath a patio, your bills will likely be higher due to the effort needed to drill through or dig up the concrete. Even if you are replacing a relatively small portion of the pipe beneath concrete, it typically will cost more than a longer pipe replacement closer to the surface or easier to dig up beneath your grassy yard. 

Depending on the extent of damage to your pipes, you can potentially expect a higher dollar amount, as well. A collapsed pipe can inflict serious damage to your property, whereas a cracked pipe isn’t always as significant. Both need immediate attention, but the labor involved differs between the two.

Weather on the Day of Sewer Replacement

Similarly, your home’s location is also an important determining factor for the project rate based on the labor required. Cold-weather climates create difficult terrain, so if it’s a frosty winter day, contractors will have to work twice as hard to get through the frozen ground. The cost of the required permits needed for contractors to dig into your ground also varies depending on where you live.

Cost of Sewer Pipe Materials 

It can seem daunting, but some factors are in the homeowner’s control. It’s up to the homeowner to select which pipe material they’d prefer, ranging from traditional PVC pipe to heavy duty copper or cast-iron pipes. PVC pipes tend to be more affordable, but copper and cast-iron pipes are more durable and likely to last longer, so it’s up to you to decide which option makes the most sense for your home.

Unpredictable Sewer Pipe Line Replacement Expenses

There’s a lot to take into account for sewer line replacement costs upfront, but even more unpredictable expenses await in the aftermath. Homeowners are often expected to pay clean-up or landscaping costs to restore the hole in their lawn or repave the torn-up driveway or sidewalk. Still, it’s possible to get a good estimate of what expenses you could be looking at based on the average range of sewer line replacement costs, keeping in mind there are always exceptions for unique situations.

How much does it cost to replace a sewer line?

Although the cost can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, homeowners can expect to pay anywhere from $150 per foot to $250 per foot of pipe replaced, with the average sewer lateral at about 50 feet long.

Since Cincinnati experiences weather highs and lows, including snow and freezing temperatures throughout the year, the effort required to access sewer pipes is more substantial and therefore more costly. Homeowners with sewer pipes located under concrete slabs take the hardest hit, with costs sometimes reaching up to $20,000 due to the difficulty level of digging beneath the concrete.

Lack of predictability is a big downside for homeowners considering sewer line replacement costs. Contractors often won’t know the full extent of the damage until they’ve dug up your lawn or driveway and evaluated the pipe, so it’s difficult to anticipate the charges required to complete the project. On top of that, it’s common for sewer pipe replacements to take several days, potentially resulting in downtime to your home plumbing that can cause more inconveniences and costs. Factor in a landscape recovery fee to restore your property after a sewer pipe replacement, and there’s even more money on the line. Instead of taking the chance and opting for a full, destructive replacement, trenchless sewer pipe repair is a popular choice for homeowners looking for lasting solutions at a manageable price.

What are sewer line replacement alternatives?

Sewer line replacement alternatives include sewer cleaning, trenchless sewer pipe lining, pipe bursting and other trenchless methods of repair. Many contractors today specialize in trenchless sewer pipe repair solutions, eliminating costly trenches. Instead, trained technicians use advanced technology to reach damaged pipelines through minimally invasive access points. Sewer cleaning, pipe lining and pipe bursting are all equally effective alternatives to sewer line replacement, depending on the existing issues.

Before diagnosing the issue and suggesting a repair solution, most contractors will start with a sewer camera inspection, sliding a small, high-tech camera through the pipeline to get a full picture of the issue and where it’s located on the pipe. This allows technicians to make an informed recommendation as to what method can get the job done most efficiently and cost-effectively. Sometimes, a nasty clog is spotted at this time, so no repairs are needed. Sewer cleaning can wash away the problem in no time.

For cracked, crumbling pipes worn down from age or corrosion, durable pipe liners made out of sturdy epoxy resin can be installed. Pipe liners work by coating the pipe to seal cracks and strengthen the foundation from within, with no digging required. This innovative trenchless technique successfully molds to the existing structure of your pipelines, with no hassle required on the part of the homeowner or their property. 

However, pipe liners are only an option for pipes that are still mostly intact. For collapsed pipes, pipe bursting is another highly effective, trusted trenchless sewer pipe repair method. Through pipe bursting, technicians create two tiny access points to slide—or “burst”—a new pipe into the position of the damaged one, pushing the old pipe out in the process. As a result, homeowners essentially have a brand new sewer pipe with no big mess or landscaping bills to worry about after the fact. 

For cost-conscious homeowners, trenchless sewer pipe repair boasts many benefits, including preserving your property and your bank account.

Why Homeowners Prefer Trenchless Sewer Pipe Repair Methods

Trenchless sewer pipe repairs withstand the test of time and have lifespans equivalent to that of a full pipe replacement. That’s potentially 50+ years of smooth plumbing for well-maintained pipes. Homeowners can achieve the same outcome as a full pipe replacement—many years of uninterrupted plumbing—but with minimal disturbance to landscaping and no mess left behind. Trenchless methods typically can be completed in a shorter time frame with most repairs finished in just one day. No digging and little to no downtime for your home plumbing is the most convenient, cost-effective outcome a homeowner can hope for.

CME Sewer Repair is a leader in trenchless sewer pipe repair in Cincinnati and beyond. Homeowners trust our technicians to deliver thoughtful solutions with their best interests top of mind. Our trenchless techniques help Ohio residents resolve tricky plumbing issues with smart solutions and no hidden costs to break the bank.

Sewer Lateral Repair Cost Compared to a Full Sewer Line Replacement

Like a full sewer line replacement, sewer lateral repair costs are typically charged per foot of whatever material is being used, whether that’s installing the epoxy pipe liner or performing pipe bursting to remove the broken pipe. On average, trenchless sewer repairs cost 25 - 30% less than a full sewer line replacement, depending on the location, length of pipe and extent of damage. Through a sewer camera inspection, these costs can all be estimated upfront. 

Because trenchless techniques are significantly less destructive and time consuming than a full sewer pipe replacement, homeowners stand to save big in labor and landscaping costs. For predictable prices, trenchless sewer pipe repair provides unparalleled relief for homeowners seeking reliable home plumbing solutions.

chart displaying the benefits of trenchless sewer repair.

Considering Sewer Line Replacement or Repair? Ask Your Plumbing Contractor These Questions.

Even with a better understanding of potential sewer line replacement costs compared to sewer lateral repair costs, there’s a lot homeowners should consider before hiring a contractor. Contact a local sewer contractor or get in touch with trenchless sewer pipe repair experts to get a better feel for what you can expect when you hire a team to get the job done.

  • Do you offer free camera inspections?
  • How quickly can your team begin a sewer repair or replacement project?
  • How long does a sewer line replacement or repair project take?
  • Will there be downtime for my utilities while the project is in progress?
  • Do you use trenchless methods or will the sewer repair require digging up my yard?
  • Do you offer financing options for sewer repairs or replacements?

CME Is a Reliable & Experienced Sewer Repair Company in Cincinnati

Our team at CME Sewer Repair is proud to specialize in trenchless sewer pipe repair solutions, offering less cost-prohibitive opportunities for homeowners to restore their home plumbing. We offer flexible financing options as an added benefit for our customers. If you’re interested in how trenchless techniques can help you save money on a plumbing project, we’re ready to get started with a free sewer camera inspection—no commitment required. Call CME to schedule your free inspection, or contact us online to learn more about our comprehensive sewer repair services for Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Kansas City residents.