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Trenchless Sewer Line: A Primer for Homeowners

Did you know traditional sewer line repair or replacement can cost homeowners up to $20 thousand or more? 

That’s a hefty price tag that can put a strain on any budget. 

Fortunately, a modern solution can save you time, money and a headache.

Enter: trenchless sewer lines. 

Professionals can complete trenchless sewer line repair and replacement with minimal property disruption using remote robotics and modern materials. That means, aside from getting your sewer line back in order, you also get benefits like:

  • Less overall expenses
  • Quick project completion
  • Durable underground drains
  • Environmental preservation
  • Versatility of options

Trenchless sewer lines offer many benefits over traditional repair methods. This makes it a popular choice for homeowners seeking an efficient and effective underground drain solution.

But is a trenchless sewer line the right approach for you? Stay tuned to find out.

Here, Drain Magic explores trenchless sewer lines— what they are, how they work and if they’re right for you. 

What is a Trenchless Sewer Line?

A trenchless sewer line is repairing or replacing a sewer line without needing trenches. This method minimizes the need for extensive excavation and digging. Experts implement trenchless sewer line repairs or replacements via pipe relining or pipe bursting.

  • Pipe relining

Pipe relining is a pipe repair method that involves creating a new, durable pipe within an existing damaged pipe. 

Professionals insert flexible resin-coated tubes into damaged pipes and inflate them to fit the pipe’s interior walls. The resin is then cured, forming a new durable seamless pipe. Using pipe relining extends the lifespan of the pipes by several decades.

  • Pipe burstingPipe bursting

Unlike pipe relining’s rehabilitative approach, pipe bursting is a full-blown pipe replacement method. Pipe bursting is achieved by breaking the old pipe and pulling a new one into its place. 

This process involves pulling a bursting head through the pipe, breaking it apart and forcing the fragments into the soil. The brand-new pipe, typically made from high-density polyethylene material, is pulled behind the bursting head.

Pipe relining and pipe bursting are pertinent to various applications. You can use them to repair or replace various piping materials, including PVC, cast iron and clay. They are also helpful for different underground drain problems.

Below, we’ll look at some common sewer line problems that can be solved using trenchless methods.

5 Common Residential Trenchless Sewer Line Problems

Trenchless sewer line repair and replacement can bail you out if you encounter these problems. 

Pipe blockages

Pipe blockages are the principal culprit behind slow drains and backups. Expect pipe blockages when you habitually pour oil and leftovers into your drain. While there are home remedies and maintenance practices to prevent this, jetting is the only surefire way to clear a pipe blockage.

Hydro jetting shoots water through the pipes at high pressure and speed, breaking up the blockages and flushing them out. The pressurized water removes any existing clumps and scrapes the inner surfaces. This restores them and allows for smoother flow.

If the pipe blockage persists, trenchless sewer line repair or replacement should finish the job.

Root infiltrationRoot infiltration

Roots intrusion is another persistent problem for underground drains. Overgrown roots can grow into and damage pipes, leading to blockages, backups and sewer line failure. 

Standard sewer line repairs require extensive excavation to trim the roots and replace the damaged pipes. But trenchless sewer line repairs address this problem even without direct access to the pipes. 

Sewer jetting or the use of specialized jetting nozzles to clear obstructions clears the pipes of roots. Experts may also use a root solution to kill off the roots and prevent future growth. This creates a clean passageway for pipe relining, sealing off cracks and leaks and preventing roots from reinfiltrating the pipes.

Pipe corrosion (tubercolation)

Pipe corrosion is the common denominator for steel and alloy-based pipes. Most households built in the 20th century have pipes made with this material. Getting corrosive pipes is an inevitable outcome, especially after over 50 years.

The rehabilitation process begins with sewer jetting to remove the sludge and abrasions within the pipe. Pipe relining extends the lifespan of your cast iron, steel or copper pipes without compromising durability. The resin materials used are cured to extreme hardness, rivaling even those of cast irons, minus the corrosive properties.

Pipe misalignment

Pipe misalignment can occur for many reasons. Earthquakes or heavy equipment on your property can cause underground drains to dislodge and misalign. But nature and the elements are only some reasons behind misaligned pipes. The incompetence of your previous contractor or plumber can also cause this.

When faced with a severely misaligned sewer line, you need more than pipe relining. Often, you will require a full-blown replacement to fix the glaring error in your drainage system. This is where trenchless sewer pipe bursting comes in.

Pipe joint separation

Pipe joint separation

Your sewer lines’ structural integrity deteriorates with time. This exposes your underground drains to pipe joint separation, where the joints become loose or disconnected, causing leaks and puddling.

While pipe relining can seal off the pipe’s joints, this is merely a band-aid solution for a bigger problem. A natural disaster, like an earthquake, is all it takes to dislodge the connection made by the hard resin. That said, the only trenchless way around this problem is pipe bursting.

By completely removing the old pipes, pipe bursting prepares a clean slate for pipe installation. You can rest assured that the new HDPE will outlast the pipe that would have been repaired using pipe relining.

What Is the Best Way To Know if a Trenchless Sewer Line Is Your Best Option?

Nothing beats trenchless sewer line repairs and replacement when it comes to convenience. But is the trenchless approach always the best solution for underground drain problems?


For instance, trenchless plumbing may not be pertinent when dealing with severely damaged or collapsed pipes. Also, traditional methods may be the only viable approach if there is no access point to the pipes, like a cleanout. 

Another reason to consider traditional methods is when you have large-diameter pipes. The bursting head or cured-in-place tube may not work on the old pipes’ interior.

At the end of the day, consulting trenchless sewer line experts like Drain Magic is the best solution. We can provide specific direction on whether trenchless or traditional approaches are better.

Drain Magic is the trusted trenchless sewer line expert in South Central Pennsylvania. If you live in the area and are dealing with sewer snags, don’t hesitate to call us.

Book an appointment here.