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Should I Replace My Sewer Line?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Find Out If It’s Time to Replace Your Sewer Line

The sewer line is a critical component of your home’s plumbing system. It’s responsible for carrying waste and wastewater away from your property. Over time, sewer lines can deteriorate, develop blockages, or suffer damage due to various factors. If you’re experiencing recurring issues with it, you might be wondering if it’s time to replace your sewer line.

You may be worried, because a sewer line replacement is a huge project. It will take time, money, and effort, so you want to be sure it’s really necessary. That’s why we’re here to explore the most important factors to consider when making a decision. Remember, while this article can help you gather knowledge on replacing your sewer line, it’s still best to consult a professional plumber.

Plumbers can help determine when sewers need replacing.
Sewer replacements can be very time and labor intensive.

Factors to Consider When Deciding to Replace the Sewer Line

So, you’ve been asking yourself for quite some time, “Should I replace my sewer line?” Let us help you find the answer to this question. Read on to know when it is the perfect time to finally replace the sewer line.

Age and Material of the Sewer Line

The age and material of your sewer line plays a significant role in its longevity and susceptibility to problems. Older homes may have sewer lines made of cast iron, clay, or outdated materials prone to rusting, cracking, and deterioration over time. If your sewer line is several decades old and showing signs of wear, such as frequent backups or leaks, replacement may be the practical option to avoid future issues.

Frequent Sewer Line Blockages

“Should I replace my sewer line?” If you have been experiencing recurring sewer line blockages, it could be a sign of underlying issues. If you find yourself dealing with frequent backups, even after professional cleaning, it could mean collapsed pipes, misaligned sewer lines, or root intrusion. In such cases, replacing the sewer line may provide a long-term solution that can alleviate the recurring blockages. It may also prevent further damage to your plumbing system.

Damage and Leaks

Visible damage or leaks in your sewer line are clear indications that it may need replacement. Broken or cracked pipes can allow sewage to seep into the surrounding soil. This can lead to foul odors, water pooling in the yard, or even sinkholes. If your sewer line has suffered multiple leaks or extensive damage, replacement is often the most effective solution. Replacing the sewer line can prevent further deterioration and potential health hazards.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, explores the nuances of sewer replacement, along with important things to weigh up before pulling the trigger.

Sewer Line Material Compatibility

If you’ve made upgrades or renovations to your plumbing system, it’s crucial to ensure that your sewer line is compatible with the new materials. For instance, older sewer lines may not be compatible with PVC piping or certain types of joint connections. In such cases, replacing the sewer line may be necessary to maintain a properly functioning plumbing system.

Cost of Repairs and Maintenance

While sewer line replacement may be a significant investment, it’s essential to consider the long-term costs of ongoing repairs and maintenance. Constantly addressing issues such as leaks, blockages, and collapses can accumulate substantial expenses over time. Sometimes, replacing the sewer line can provide a cost-effective solution, eliminating the need for frequent repairs and minimizing potential property damage.

Future Property Plans

If you’re planning to undertake significant renovations or additions to your property, it may be an opportune time to replace the sewer line. Upgrading the sewer line during construction can save time, money, and potential disruptions in the future. Additionally, a new sewer line can increase the overall value of your property, making it an attractive option for homeowners considering selling their homes.

Sewer Replacement Considerations
Urgency of sewer replacement can depend on a variety of issues.

How Long Do Sewer Lines Last?

The lifespan of a sewer line varies based on certain factors, such as the material of the sewer line, environmental conditions, usage, and maintenance. Here are the typical lifespans of common sewer line materials:

Cast Iron

Cast iron sewer lines have been used in older homes and buildings. With proper maintenance and care, they can last around 50 to 75 years.


Clay sewer lines were commonly installed in older properties. They have a relatively long lifespan, lasting anywhere from 50 to 100 years. But they can be susceptible to cracking and root intrusion.


PVC or polyvinyl chloride sewer lines are widely used in modern construction due to their durability and longevity. With proper installation and regular maintenance, they can last over 100 years.


Orangeburg pipes were made from a type of wood fiber composite material. They have a relatively short lifespan, typically lasting around 30 to 50 years. They are also prone to deterioration and can collapse over time.

Regular maintenance, including cleaning and periodic inspection, can help extend the lifespan of sewer lines. Additionally, factors such as heavy tree root growth, poor installation, and ground shifting can contribute to premature sewer line issues.

How Much Does Sewer Line Replacement Cost?

Various factors affect the cost of replacing a sewer line. Such factors include the length of the sewer line, the depth at which it is buried, accessibility, material costs, local labor, and any additional repairs or modifications required. Here are some approximate cost ranges for sewer line replacement:

Traditional Excavation Method

For sewer line replacement using the traditional excavation method, where the old line is dug up and replaced with a new one, the cost can range from $3,000 to $25,000 or more. The cost per linear foot can range from $50 to $150 depending on the factors mentioned above.

Trench-less Methods

Trench-less sewer line replacement techniques, such as pipe bursting or pipe lining, can be more cost-effective. They’re also less disruptive compared to traditional excavation. Trench-less sewer line replacement costs can range from $60 to $250 per linear foot, with an average total cost of $6,000 to $12,000 or more.

These cost estimates are rough averages. If you want to get an accurate estimate or are looking for the cheapest way to replace sewer lines, it’s best to contact several reputable plumbing or sewer line replacement companies. They can assess your specific situation, inspect your existing sewer line, and provide you with a detailed cost estimate based on your unique needs.

Sewer Replacement Costs Involved
Sewer replacement costs vary depending on the method employed.

Sewer Line FAQs

How long does it take to replace a sewer line?

The duration of sewer line replacement can vary based on factors, such as the length of the line, the chosen replacement method, the accessibility of the work area, and any additional repairs required. On average, a sewer line replacement project can take anywhere from a few days to a week or more. It’s best to consult with your plumber to get a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation.

Is trench-less sewer line replacement more expensive?

Trenchless sewer line replacement methods can be more cost-effective in certain situations. While the initial material and labor costs for trenchless methods may be higher, they often result in overall savings due to reduced excavation and restoration requirements. Trenchless methods also minimize disruptions to your property and can be completed more quickly than traditional excavation. However, the cost ultimately depends on factors such as the length of the sewer line, the type of damage, and the specific requirements of the subject. It’s recommended you obtain quotes from reputable plumbing companies to compare costs.

Do I need a permit to replace my sewer line?

Permit requirements for sewer line replacement vary depending on location and local regulations. In many cases, a permit is required for sewer line replacement projects to ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards. Additionally, inspections may be necessary at various stages of the project. You should check with your local authorities or consult with a professional plumber to understand the permitting process and any associated fees.

Hire a Local Plumbing Pro

Replacing sewer lines requires careful consideration of various factors. It is difficult to do on your own, so we advise consulting on of our local pros. Plumbers can assess the condition of your sewer line, provide expert advice, and recommend the most appropriate solution.

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