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Sewer and water pipe in an excavated trench deep in the ground,

The Cost of Sewer Line Replacement: What to Expect

Are your toilets gurgling and overflowing? Are you worried about the costs associated with a sewer line replacement?

When your household wastewater drains slowly or completely clogs up, there is a possibility that you’ll need to replace your sewer line.

In this blog post, we'll explore everything you need to know about the cost of sewer line replacement so that you can make an informed decision.

By the end, you'll be prepared to tackle any sewer line issue with confidence and ease.

What Is a Sewer Line Replacement?

laying and installation of a sewer pipe

A sewer line replacement involves removing a damaged or broken sewer line and installing a new pipe to maintain your home's sewage system.

This process is necessary when your existing line has suffered extensive damage due to tree roots, broken pipes, or other issues that cannot be fixed with simple repairs.

Sewer Line Replacement Cost

Typical range:

The cost of sewer line replacement varies greatly depending on several factors, including the size of the project and the type of repair.

In the Seattle Metropolitan area, which covers from Pierce County up into Snohomish County, from the base of the Cascades to Puget Sound, homeowners can expect to pay between $3,000 and $25,000 for a full sewer line replacement.

National average:

The national average for sewer line replacement is around $8,000.

Sewer Line Cost by Line Length

A length of pipe in the ground

The cost of sewer line replacement depends on the length of the line being replaced. Generally, the longer the line, the higher the cost.

On average, homeowners pay around $400 to $500 per foot for new pipe installation, depending on depth and soil conditions.

Sewer Line Cost by Pipe Material

Different sizes of pipes

The cost of sewer line replacement varies depending on the type of pipe material used.

Common materials include cast iron pipes, PVC, and clay pipes.

Cast iron is typically more expensive, while PVC is a more cost-effective option.

Please note that Schedule 35 or Schedule 40 PVC is the industry standard for sewer pipe replacement today.

If you have an older sewer line made from materials such as cast iron, concrete, or clay, you should replace them with PVC.

Cast iron pipes tend to be more expensive, ranging from $75 to $150 per foot, while PVC pipes are more affordable, costing between $25 and $70 per foot.

As noted above, PVC is what is typically used for new construction today.

Sewer Line Replacement Cost by Type of Repair

There are two primary methods of sewer line repair: trenchless sewer line repair and traditional excavation.

Trenchless sewer repairs, such as pipe lining or pipe bursting, are typically 30-40% less expensive than traditional excavation and less invasive.

Traditional excavation, which involves digging a trench to access the damaged pipe, is usually more expensive and can cause significant damage to your yard.

Sewer Line Cost by Repair Type

  • Trenchless sewer line repair (including pipe bursting and Cure-in-Place-Pipe liner): $3,500 to $12,000 for 20-30 feet of pipe, or $125 to $500+ per linear foot.
  • Traditional excavation: $7,500 to $30,000 for 20-30 feet of pipe, or $400 to $500 per linear foot.

A traditional sewer line replacement involves excavation

Cost Factors for Sewer Line Replacement

Cost by Distance

The further the sewer line runs from your home to the main sewer line, the more it will cost to replace it.

From the House to the Street

sewer pipe in a trench connecting to a main stub

A full sewer line replacement is usually from the main stub at the home to the municipality service stub.  The municipality service stub extends from the main utility line onto the connecting property line, forming a “T.”

Prices can vary depending on depth, slopes, and soil types.

For a standard home in a relatively flat-terrain development, prices typically range from $10,000 to $20,000.

Under a Driveway or a Complex Landscape

A driveway with landscaping

If your sewer line has to go under a slab or a driveway, traditional excavation can add $15,000 to $20,000  to the total price because of the need to replace asphalt or concrete.

The same may apply to some landscapes.

If a trenchless method can be used, barring any unforeseen issues, it will often cut that cost by half.

Cost for Labor and Installation

workers dig up yard

Labor and installation costs typically account for a significant portion of sewer line replacement expenses.

This includes the cost of digging the trench, removing the old pipe, and installing the new one.

The cost of labor and installation is typically included in the total cost of a sewer line replacement.

Costs for Yard Repair

After a traditional excavation sewer line replacement, you may need to repair your yard or landscaping.

This can include reseeding the grass, replacing plants, or fixing any damage caused during the replacement process.

Trenchless repair methods will leave your yard undisturbed.

Costs for Sewer Camera Inspection

inside old dirty sewer line pipe

Before starting any sewer line repair, a sewer camera inspection is necessary to assess the damage.

Nationally, these inspections typically cost between $175 and $800.

Here at Dirt Cheap Sewer, we are proud to offer this cutting-edge video inspection service for $175 to $375, depending on what video sewer inspection package you select.

During camera inspections, homeowners are usually invited to watch as the process takes place. The person doing the inspection can explain what they see and address any concerns.

Cost by Location

view of Seattle downtown skyline and Mt. Rainier

The cost of sewer line replacement can also vary based on your location.

Urban areas with higher labor costs may charge more for this service than rural areas.

While it's difficult to provide a typical cost since every sewer line situation is unique, Dirt Cheap Sewer's pricing for a sewer line replacement typically starts at $3,000 and goes up from there.

Cost for Traditional vs. Trenchless

Traditional sewer line replacement by excavation tends to be more expensive than trenchless methods and can cause more disruption to your yard.

Trenchless sewer line replacement, like pipe lining or pipe bursting, is generally less expensive and less invasive.

Costs for a Sewer Line Trench

A sewer line trench is necessary for traditional sewer line replacement.

The cost of digging a trench depends on factors like the depth and length of the trench, soil conditions, and accessibility.

On average, homeowners can expect to pay between $4 and $12 per linear foot if they pay someone to dig a sewer line trench.

Cost For Obstructions

View from hole in yard

Buried utilities, buried rocks, covered lengths of bedrock, buried cars, cisterns, fuel-oil service tanks, trees, concrete slabs, pavers, fences, power poles, gazebos, playsets, and sheds are all obstructions that can add to the final cost of a sewer line replacement.

These unknowns can change the amount of work, disposal of materials, required machines, and time involved with the project.

Cost Of Cleanup or Removal of Hazardous Contamination

Professional cleaning up hazardous contamination

If the home's interior has been contaminated, you may require the services of a restoration company to repair and restore your home.

Additionally, any carpets and flooring that were contaminated may need to be replaced.

Such costs are typically not factored into a sewer line replacement and may require you to hire outside help.

Other Sewer Line Repair Costs

Tree Root Removal

Tree roots and other debris clogging a sewer pipe

Tree roots can invade sewer lines, causing damage and blockages. We typically use hydro jetting to remove roots.

Removing tree roots from your sewer line can cost between $695 and $1300+, depending on the extent of the problem.

However, the location of the cleanout, the extent of the clogging, and the diameter of the pipe can all push the cost higher.

Spot Repair Using Liner CIPP (Spin Casting)

A sewer line spot repair via a Cured-In-Place-Pipe (CIPP) liner usually runs between $3,000 and $12,000.

Removing Clogs

A pipe clogged or sewer with thick fats, oil and grease

Removing a clog via a snake or hydro jetting typically costs between $695 and $1,300.

However, it can occasionally cost more depending on the location of the cleanouts, the extent of the clogging, and the diameter of the pipe.

Cracked Pipe Replacement

Cracked sewer pipe

If you have a cracked pipe but not a full sewer line replacement is needed, you can expect to pay between $695 and $15,000, depending on the severity of the crack, the method of repair used, and the depth of the pipe.

Depths of 4' or less typically have a cost range between $695 and $3,500.

Depths of 4' to 20' require safety shoring and specialized machines. The average cost for pipes at these depths is between $4,500 and $15,000.

Collapsed Line Replacement

A collapsed sewer line or swale requires immediate attention and can be costly to repair.

Replacing a collapsed line typically costs between $7,500 and $30,000 for 30 feet of pipe, with most homeowners paying between $12,000 and $15,000.

In some cases, the pipe bursting repair method can reduce costs by half. Longer lines tend to have a lower cost per foot due to the amount of savings you get from not having to excavate.

Cure-in-Place-Pipe liner (CIPP) can vary depending on length, $3,500 to $12,000 for 20-30 feet of pipe.

How To Save Money on a Sewer Line Replacement

To save money on your sewer line replacement, consider the following tips:

Compare Quotes and Bids From Top-Rated and Reviewed Contractors

Couple looking at reviews online

It is crucial to get multiple quotes. Do not limit yourself to one contractor or plumbing solution. Call around!

There are reputable contractors that do not charge to come out to assess your situation. However, every area and company is different.

Some will not charge for the first 30 minutes or for the first hour. After that, they may charge an hourly rate. Be sure to ask.

Those that do charge to come out and create a bid typically charge between $50 and $250.

Many times the contractor will incentivize a homeowner to pay for the cost of a bid by applying it to any work that they may be hired to perform.

Choose a Trenchless Repair Method If It's Suitable For Your Situation

Trenchless repair methods, such as pipe lining or pipe bursting, can be an ideal solution for sewer line replacement without causing significant damage to your yard.

These techniques are often faster and less disruptive than traditional excavation methods, making them a popular choice among homeowners.

Be sure to consult with a professional installer to determine if a trenchless repair method is suitable for your specific situation.

Schedule Regular Sewer Inspections and Maintenance to Prevent Costly Emergency Repairs

plumber opening septic system tank

Regular sewer inspections and maintenance can help identify potential issues before they escalate into costly emergency repairs.

By scheduling routine sewer camera inspections and hydro jetting services, you can ensure that your home's sewage system remains in optimal condition.

Preventative maintenance not only saves you money on unexpected repair costs but also extends the lifespan of your sewer lines.

Pros and Cons of Replacement

Broken sewer pipe

Sewer line replacement comes with both advantages and disadvantages.

The main benefit is that it restores your home's sewer system to proper working order, preventing sewer backups and potential health hazards.

However, the cost and disruption to your property can be significant.

That being said, the cons of not replacing your broken sewer line far outweigh the pros of doing nothing!

When To Replace Your Sewer Line

Consider sewer line replacement when:

  1. Your sewer line has multiple breaks or leaks.
  2. The damage to the line is too severe for simple repairs.
  3. Your sewer line is outdated and prone to frequent issues.
  4. You experience recurring sewer line backups.
  5. You have bad smells and standing water in your yard.

DIY vs. Professional Sewer Line Replacement

While some homeowners may be tempted to replace their sewer line themselves, it's best to hire a professional for this type of heavy, intensive work.

That being said, a DIY sewer line replacement could cost you as little as $50 to $300 in parts (not including the cost of permits).

However, sewer line replacement requires specialized tools and expertise, and attempting a DIY project can result in further damage and higher costs (not to mention lots of headaches and sweat)!

Always remember to call 811 before doing any digging on your property. (If you are using a contractor, they will handle this step.)

flags mark the location of utilities in a yard

 

*Warning About Digging Trenches*

There are also serious safety hazards associated with sewer line replacement and repair. Sewer line trench collapses--even in small holes--have killed people. 

This is not a joke. Severe fines can result, even to the point of permanently closing businesses. Any digging, on any property, that is seen by state inspectors, requires that they stop and see the digging area. 

In the Seattle Metro area alone, in 2022, 4 people were killed in trench collapses. One incident was a father and his son.  

Federal trench safety rules require trenching in holes that are 5 feet deep or more and must have shoring.  

In Washington state, any hole that is 4 feet deep must have shoring.  Shoring is vital!

Open trench with small diameter pipe

Shoring is a procedure used to create a perimeter box that is pressed solidly against the edges of the interior of the trench that has been dug.  

It must be braced with cross members, adequate to hold the sides from collapsing in on anyone that is inside of the hole. (Bracing is more than simple sheets of plywood and 2’ x 4’s nailed into place.)  

The deeper the hole, the more bracing is needed. It is advisable that any homeowner considering digging trenches that require shoring have a professional do the work.  

Professionals have been trained and certified for trench and enclosed spaces. You should not take the risk of digging your own trench. You may not live to regret it!

How To Choose a Professional Installer

When selecting a professional installer, consider the following factors:

  1. Experience and expertise in sewer line replacement.
  2. Positive customer reviews and recommendations.
  3. Transparent pricing and a detailed quote.
  4. Appropriate licensing and bonding.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sewer Line Replacement Costs

Can I use my homeowner's insurance to cover the cost of sewer line replacement?

Homeowners Insurance Policy Form

Typically it is not, but you have the option to add underground utility insurance to your homeowner's insurance policy to include sewer, water, electrical, and more.

However, coverage varies by policy, so it's essential to review your insurance documents and consult with your agent.

How long does a sewer line replacement take?

The duration of a sewer line replacement depends on factors like the extent of the damage, the method of repair, and the size of the project.

On average, it can take anywhere from several days to a little over a week to complete the replacement.

Here at Dirt Cheap Sewer, we typically take 2-5 days for pipe bursting or pipe lining.

Full excavation projects, depending on the length and depth of the pipe, can take 4-10 days

Contact Dirt Cheap Sewer For All Your Sewer And Outdoor Plumbing Needs

By now, you should have a solid understanding of the cost of sewer line replacement and what to expect during the process.

At Dirt Cheap Sewer, we're here to help replace your sewer line with minimal hassle and disruption.

Fill out our contact form today, or give us a call to discuss your sewer line replacement needs!

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