There are usually several solutions available when you have sewer line problems. Consult with several plumbers and your county official to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution before starting any work.
The video camera used by our plumbing contractor had identified the two breaks/cracks in the sewer line in the garage and downstairs kitchen of the house we just finished renovating. Soil from the cracked lines under the garage and driveway could get into the pipe and clog the pipe.
Before doing any work I discussed the problem with our plumbing contractor and other plumbers. I also involved the county to make sure they understood the nature of the problem and were on board with any solutions.
Options for Solving the Cracks in Underground sewer line
There were really two options at the time based on our understanding of the problem. Under the first option we could:
- Remove and replace the old sewer pipe under the garage and driveway with new PVC,
- Cleaning out about 15 feet of the old metal sewer pipe that went under the kitchen and relining it, and
- Abandon the existing sewer line under the garage and installing a new line to the sewer main under the side of the house
The second option was to reline the sewer pipe both in the kitchen and garage.
Pros and Cons of Each Option
Option 1- Removing the old sewer line would mean destroying about 15 feet of the new ceramic tile in the downstairs kitchen and destroying an equal length of the new concrete driveway. It would also mean abandoning the old sewer pipe under the driveway. Of course it meant breaking up the concrete in the garage.
We were partial to option 1 because we wanted the assurance of clean sewer pipes that would not get clogged and intended to live in the house for a long time to come. The last thing we wanted after an extensive renovation was substandard plumbing.
Option 2- Relining the pipe seemed very attractive. We could avoid tearing up the kitchen and garage. However the cost was about $80 per linear foot. We decided not to line the pipes because of the expense. We were concerned with the age of the sewer pipe and that they might break when we tried to clean them. The relining also seemed to be a temporary measure and not a long-term solution. Most relining contractor would not guarantee the relining for a long time. If we were going to sell the house, then this might have been a consideration.
Option 3- At first glance, installing another line seemed to be a lot of extra work. However, we would not have to worry about how long relinging the pipe would last. We ultimately selected this option as described in part 3 of replacing a sewer line.
We soon discovered an impediment to implementing option 1. The county normally required capping the old connection within two feet of the sewer main. Since the old sewer connection was under the new driveway, we would have had to demolish the driveway to comply with the county.
After talking to the county, however, they decided that they would reline the sewer main following installation of our new sewer tap. So in the end we could abandon the old sewer line under the driveway and did not have to cap it.
We also discovered some additional issues when we started work. These have a bearing on how effective flushing is and how good a tool video cameras are.