How Much Does Sewer Line Replacement Cost?
The national average sewer line replacement cost is $2,914. The cost is heavily influenced by several factors—like pipe location, material, and length—and falls within a typical range of $1,253 to $4,701.
- Typical Range: $1,253 to $4,701
- National Average: $2,914
Repairing or replacing a sewer line isn’t usually at the top of a homeowner’s renovation plans. But it’s sometimes a necessary project to prevent some quite unpleasant side effects, like sewage in the backyard or basement. There are many factors that come into play when calculating sewer line replacement cost, including where the line is located, what it’s made out of, how long the section to be replaced measures, and what’s causing the problem in the first place. According to HomeAdvisor, homeowners pay between $1,253 and $4,701 to have a sewer line replaced, with the national average coming in at $2,914.
For the homeowner who suspects a sewer line replacement project may be in the near future or for someone currently dealing with this messy plumbing project, the following guide breaks down costs and provides insight on what a sewer line replacement job entails.
Factors in Calculating Sewer Line Replacement Cost
Many factors can influence a final sewer line replacement cost. These include line location, material, and length as well as replacement method. Labor costs, permits, and geographical location also factor into how much sewer pipe repair will cost.
Sewer Line Location
The location of the sewer line has a large influence on the replacement cost. For example, the cost to replace the main sewer line that extends into a street is $530 to $2,270. In severe scenarios that require longer pipe distances and excessive trenching, the cost can soar to $25,000, though the average sewer line installation cost is $2,914.
A sewer line in a basement costs $60 to $250 per foot to replace, as long as the repair is does not require ground excavation. If the sewage pipe is completely collapsed, a more expensive replacement process requiring ground excavation costs between $400 and $1,200 per 100 linear feet.
Finally, repairing or replacing a sewer line under a slab costs $300 to $350 per foot due to the additional work needed to break up the concrete.
Sewer Line Material
Sewer line repair costs vary based on pipe materials. PVC is the most affordable choice, and it’s easy to replace. Cast iron is a bit more expensive but highly durable. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to replace. Copper costs even more, but it offers better quality and a longer lifespan.
For further clarification, 48 linear feet of cast iron sewer pipe costs $1,104 to $3,600. For the same amount of copper pipe, homeowners can expect to pay between $3,954 and $4,265. Finally, PVC costs between $73 and $376 for 48 linear feet, making it the most affordable option.
Sewer Line Length
Length is a major determining factor when homeowners are estimating the cost to replace a sewer line. Homeowners could pay between $50 and $250 per foot, but the cost is usually closer to $50 to $125 per foot.
The final cost depends heavily on the location of the pipe, along with the replacement method and material. For example, a short length of pipe buried beneath a concrete slab is likely to cost more to replace than an easily accessible pipe that measures twice as long.
Cause of the Problem
Sewer lines fail for different reasons, all which have their own associated replacement cost. For example, the cost to remove tree roots in a sewer line is between $100 and $600. However, this is just to remove the roots; any damaged portions of the pipe may still need to be repaired or replaced.
The average cost to replace cracked pipes is $1,050, but that will vary by the type of pipe, its location, and the extent of the damage. Finally, a collapse in the sewer line is often the most expensive cause to correct, as it requires a full replacement. Collapsed sewer lines can be caused by settling ground, frequent overhead traffic, or heavy construction vehicles and cost between $50 and $250 per foot to repair or replace.
There are several different replacement methods, all with price ranges that reflect their unique benefits and potential risks. Basic trenchless sewer line replacement costs $60 to $250 per foot.
More specifically, cured-in-place sewer line replacement, which involves pulling a resin-coated liner through a pipe and curing it to reinforce the existing pipe, costs $80 to $250 per foot. Pipe bursting is another type of trenchless replacement that involves bursting the old brittle pipe while attaching a new pipe nearly simultaneously. This process costs between $60 and $200 per foot.
Sewer pipe repair is hard work, and the cost for a plumber or a contractor can be high to match the demand of the job. Sewer system repairs and replacements aren’t typically broken down by hour. Instead, they’re charged by the length of the pipe or even a flat rate based on the scope of the job. A general rule of thumb is that professional plumbers may charge between $50 and $150 an hour for similar types of jobs based on experience levels.
Nearly any work involving a sewer line will require a permit due to sanitation concerns and biohazard risks. In most cases, the contractor handles permits, but a homeowner will always want to make sure a permit has been issued for their sewer line job. Permit pricing varies by municipality, but most homeowners can expect to pay about $200.
The cost of repairing a sewer line can be directly related to geographic location. This is typically due to climate. In an area where snow and ice are the norm, digging through frozen ground to reach a faulty pipe costs more in labor and time.
Here are some examples of how different locations affect replacement costs. In Atlanta, Georgia, where temperatures stay warm most of the year, a sewer line replacement costs between $600 and $2,300, but in areas of the country that see their fair share of snow, repair costs go up. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, for example, replacement costs range from $1,800 to $6,000. Cincinnati, Ohio, has an even higher range of $2,500 and $6,400.
Additional Costs and Considerations
There are several important and somewhat obvious factors that influence the price of sewer line repair or replacement, like location, material, and the amount of waste line that needs attention. However, there are additional costs and considerations that homeowners should know about before they start looking for a contractor.
Repair vs. Replacement
While not all sewer lines can be repaired, a damaged sewer line doesn’t necessarily need to be entirely replaced. The difference in cost can be quite large in certain circumstances.
Sewer line repair is typically recommended when a line has a few cracks or holes. Because the work is limited to a small space, the associated cost is usually low. But when the damage is severe, such as a collapsed pipe, a replacement is often the recommended route. This typically involves more prep, labor, material, and cleanup, resulting in a higher price tag.
Experts recommend that a homeowner seek out more than one evaluation to make sure the proper route is taken. The age of the pipe should also be taken into account. It makes more sense to repair a younger pipe than one that is nearing the end of its lifespan and is more likely to have issues in the near future.
A sewer camera inspection can help locate the source of a blockage, water leak, or other damage that’s affecting a home’s sewer system. To complete the process, a plumber or contractor attaches a camera to a long hose and then snakes it through the sewer line to get a close-up view.
This is often the fastest and least invasive way to diagnose a sewer issue, especially when there are multiple symptoms within a home with multiple potential sources.
A video inspection of a sewer line can cost anywhere between $100 and $500.
Sewer Trap Replacement
A sewer trap is a U-shaped piece of pipe that collects a small amount of water in order to prevent sewage gases from entering a home. While sewer traps sound beneficial, they can actually cause serious plumbing issues, mainly due to their design and tendency to rust. Instead of blocking dangerous sewage gases, they end up holding waste and increasing the chance of a sewer line break.
Routine inspection of a sewer line can catch damaged sewer traps before they become an issue. A replacement can cost $100 for parts plus an additional $45 to $200 per hour for labor. In total, replacing a sewer trap can cost between $1,500 and $3,000.
Landscaping and Cleanup
Both before and after a sewer line replacement, there are typically some landscaping and cleanup costs to consider. Most contractors will include some basic cleanup in their labor costs. But when the job goes beyond the basics, homeowners can expect to pay another $100 to $350 to get their property looking close to what it looked like before the replacement. Additionally, decommissioning a septic tank can cost between $500 and $1,000, which doesn’t include the cost of installing a new septic tank. Hauling away the old septic tank may also incur an additional cost.
Driveway or Sidewalk Repaving
Sewer lines can lie beneath driveways or sidewalks, and accessing these pipes can result in costly repaving costs. When it comes to repairing a concrete or asphalt driveway, the average cost comes in at $1,750. For homeowners needing to repair a patio or walkway after a sewer line replacement, the average cost is $1,400.
Working with a contractor who will minimize necessary repairs is one way to save on these costs. Another is to consider repaving the entire area, even if it’s not all damaged during the project. While this may cost more initially, repairing only a small section of a driveway or walkway that will likely need a full replacement in a few years may not be cost effective in the long run.
Types of Sewer Line Replacement
Not all sewer lines are replaced with the same method. The following examples focus on the most common types of sewer line repairs and explain the process along with how it affects the final cost.
Traditional sewer pipe replacement involves digging a ditch along the entire length of the pipe in question. The pipe is then removed and replaced with a new pipe. While this replacement method is to the point, it also comes with a few caveats, one being what it does to a yard. It can destroy years of landscaping unless proper precautions are taken by the homeowner and contractor. But when a pipe collapses, removal is the only option.
When it comes to standard sewer line trenching, homeowners pay between $400 and $1,200 per 100 linear feet. When replacing a sewer line from house to street, homeowners can expect to pay between $530 and $2,270.
As long as the pipe in question isn’t collapsed, a trenchless sewer repair or replacement may be an option. Rather than blindly digging in the direction of a damaged pipe, contractors can use micro-video cameras to explore and diagnose the problem. Small holes are then dug in the appropriate areas to allow access to the affected pipe without the need to tear up the yard or affect nearby landscaping.
Trenchless technology means sewer line repair can be less strenuous on homeowners. The entire process is faster, generally less expensive, and more environmentally friendly than other methods. Trenchless sewer line replacement typically costs between $60 and $250 per foot.
Cured-in-place sewer line replacement is a form of trenchless repair in which a plumber pulls a liner through the affected pipe, essentially creating a newer (and slightly smaller) functional pipe inside the cracked or damaged pipe. The new pipe is filled with resin, which then attaches to the inner walls of the damaged pipe after being exposed to a curing element. Once the resin is fully cured, the new lining acts as a new and fully functional pipeline.
This sewer pipe rehabilitation method is widely used and often more affordable than other repair or replacement options that require digging. Homeowners can expect to pay between $80 and $250 per square foot for a cured-in-place repair.
Pipe bursting is a sustainable sewer replacement method that involves breaking and expanding an existing buried sewer waste line while simultaneously replacing it with a new pipe, usually made from high-density polyethylene.
This trenchless sewer repair method doesn’t require added chemicals or contaminants and can be used with a wide variety of internal pipe diameters and lengths. Nearly all common pipe materials can be replaced using the pipe bursting method, no matter their current condition. This is an affordable trenchless option that costs homeowners between $60 and $200 per foot.
Do I Need Sewer Line Replacement?
A sewer line is a system that is not easy to see from the outside. So, how does a homeowner know if there is a problem? There are some signs to look for to help determine if a sewer line needs repair or replacement.
No homeowner wants the smell of sewer gas in their home. Unfortunately, it can happen. While a disgusting and unpleasant smell coming from one drain may be simply the result of trapped debris, an odor carrying throughout the house is a sign that the sewer system is in need of repair.
Homeowners who notice this kind of odor will want to call a professional as soon as possible, since this can be a major health hazard. Sewer gas is a naturally occuring gas, called hydrogen sulfide, that is toxic in high concentrations. Prolonged exposure can cause headaches, nausea, and eye irritation.
A single clogged drain isn’t reason to panic about an expensive sewer line repair or replacement. But when multiple drains seem to clog simultaneously, or clogs seem to be on a rinse and repeat cycle, it may be time to call out a professional for an inspection.
If a homeowner suspects a sewer line issue because of a clogged drain, there are a few things they can do to confirm or squash their suspicions. First, they can check all plumbing fixtures in the home, including toilets, bathtubs, and showers. If they’re all struggling to drain water, a sewer line clog is likely. The same applies to water backing up in strange places, like a flushing toilet causing gurgling water in the shower. Finally, if there’s drainage at the sewer cleanout (a white or metal outdoor pipe), the likelihood of a sewer line clog is high.
The good news is that gurgling pipes don’t always signal a sewer line break. In some cases, they’re a sign of blockage and can be affordably remedied. But when gurgling sounds are a consistent background noise, it could be water bubbling all the way from the sewer line. It’s best to call a professional sooner than later to prevent a more serious (and expensive) problem.
Wall or Foundation Cracks
A broken sewer line can allow countless gallons of water to escape underground. This water can pool against a home’s foundation and weaken it. In a worst-case scenario, the foundation can crack as a result. A cracked or damaged foundation can also lead to cracks in the interior walls of a home.
While there could be multiple causes behind a foundation or wall crack, a broken sewer system is one. This becomes more likely if any of the other listed symptoms are present as well.
Sewer Line Backups
It’s difficult to imagine a worse nightmare for a homeowner. A sewer line backup can leave a home uninhabitable if not properly handled. When a sewage system gets overloaded, waste can be pushed backward through the line and back into a home. While backups are common in basements, they can also happen in toilets and bathtub drains.
Unless minimal and fully contained, a sewer line backup should be handled by a professional. And even if the incident is small, the backup is almost a guaranteed symptom of a pipe in need of repair or replacement. It’s not an issue a homeowner can wish away.
Presence of Mold or Mildew
Mold or mildew can grow for a variety of reasons. A patch of mold could be a sign of a roof leak or high interior humidity, but when it’s in a basement or other area where a sewer backup can happen, the root of the problem could be a faulty sewer line.
A severe sewage backup problem can quickly lead to mold growth. Homeowners who spot the issue in time may be able to prevent mold growth by quickly removing the moisture, cleaning floors and baseboards, steam-cleaning rugs and carpets, and repairing any damaged walls. But the truth is that once mold or mildew is growing, simply removing it won’t fix the reason it’s growing in the first place. A sewer line replacement may be in order.
Presence of Insects or Rodents
Rodents and insects love damp living conditions. They’re also prone to claiming spaces in the yard that offer green and plush cover (healthy grass can unfortunately be a sign of a broken sewer line). Indentations in the lawn (yet another sign) are an added living bonus for these not-so-welcome yard squatters as well.
While a homeowner may just be having bad luck with wildlife, a sudden uptick in rodents and insects can be a sign of a sewer problem. And the worst part? If there is a sewer break, these unwanted guests can make their way into a home. If the number of rodents or insects is noticeable, it’s worth a quick call to a plumber for a sewer inspection.
Soggy Lawn or Sinkholes
When part of a level yard suddenly develops a soggy circle or sinkhole, it could be a symptom of a broken and leaking sewer line. Walking near the sinkhole to inspect the area is not advised, as the area could be extremely dangerous due to contamination. Since sudden sogginess or sinkholes can also be a sign of a broken main water line, it’s best to call in a professional for an evaluation.
Lush, Green Spots in the Lawn
What do landscaping companies put down to improve the condition of grass? Fertilizer! So while lush, green grass spots don’t automatically point to a broken sewer line, they can serve as confirmation if other symptoms are present, especially when the greener grass is near a buried sewer line.
Homeowners should keep in mind that a sudden improvement in limited lawn spaces can also signal a main water break. Getting a professional evaluation is the best way to get to the root cause.
Sewer Line Replacement: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Sewer line replacement isn’t a glamorous home improvement job. It can also get expensive, especially when a large section of pipe needs to be replaced. This may be why some homeowners consider taking a DIY approach to sewer line replacement.
Unfortunately, this isn’t recommended. To start, diagnosing the cause of a failing sewer line takes knowledge and experience that can’t be picked up through a few internet searches. Even if the cause of the issue is obvious, the machinery required to reach pipes in the ground is large, expensive, and can be difficult to operate without training and experience.
Replacing a sewer line isn’t an easy task. It takes years of education, hands-on training, and practice to tackle such a difficult job.
Finally, dealing with what travels inside a sewer line can be dangerous. Only a professional will know how to reach, remove, and replace a sewer pipe without contaminating the area surrounding the work space.
Replacing a sewer line as a DIY project may be appealing to homeowners looking to save some money, but taking on such a difficult task without the proper tools and training can be dangerous and even cost more in the end. Homeowners can start the search for a professional by typing “sewer line repair near me” into their favorite search engine for a list of the best plumbing services nearby.
How to Save Money on Sewer Line Replacement Cost
Replacing a sewer line can be a costly but unavoidable job. But there are ways to reduce overall costs. The following are some ways homeowners can save when it comes to a sewer line replacement project.
- Ask about trenchless methods, which minimize the amount of yard preparation needed for a job. The cost isn’t drastically different, but with less landscape cleanup and repair required, there’s room for savings.
- When trenching can’t be avoided, homeowners can relocate landscaping. By cutting and removing sod or moving plants and shrubs temporarily, homeowners can keep them alive and then replant them after the job is completed.
- While not all replacements can be put off, some scenarios can allow a homeowner to buy a bit more time (and save money) by repairing a section of pipe for a much lower cost until a full replacement can be completed.
- Adding an endorsement to a homeowners insurance policy can help cover the costs of a sewer line replacement that would otherwise be excluded.
- While no sewer pipe can last forever, performing regular sewer line maintenance through annual inspections and cleanings can extend the life of a sewer line and delay costly repairs and replacements.
Questions to Ask About Sewer Line Replacement
Replacing a sewer line is a job best left to the professionals. For homeowners on the hunt for the best plumber or contractor to replace their sewer line, asking the following questions can help qualified candidates stand out from the crowd.
- Do you provide free estimates?
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
- Do I need to replace my entire line, or is a replacement of a smaller section enough?
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you charge by the hour or a flat rate?
- Do you provide a warranty for your materials or work?
- How are your employees trained?
- Do you know how to clear a main sewer line clog yourself, or do you call in additional contractors?
- How will you protect my property from damage during the job?
- Will my homeowners or property insurance policy help cover the cost of my sewer line replacement?
- Is a trenchless sewer line replacement an option?
- How long will the job take?
- Will you handle any permits or inspections required by city code?
- Do you offer cleanup services after the project is completed?
A full sewer line replacement is a large job that only a professional should perform. But there are still plenty of questions a homeowner may have when estimating their sewer line replacement cost. The following FAQs can help put a homeowner’s mind at ease about a sewer line replacement job and its associated costs.
Q. How can I save money on a sewer line replacement?
To reduce the cost of a sewer line replacement, homeowners should ask about trenchless methods to save on yard cleanup and repair. Repairs should also be considered over replacement (if recommended by a contractor). Finally, insurance and maintenance are two ounces of prevention that are worth more than a pound of cure.
Q. Does homeowners insurance cover sewer line repair?
Sewer line damage isn’t typically covered by homeowners insurance unless an endorsement has been added to the policy. However, a line that is damaged suddenly or accidentally from events such as lighting, vandalism, or explosions may be covered up to a policy’s limits. But damage resulting from poor upkeep, faulty construction, floods, pests, tree roots, and earthquakes is typically not covered. Homeowners insurance may cover plumbing, however, so it’s worth asking an insurance provider what is and isn’t covered by the policy.
Q. Will I need a permit to work on my sewer lines?
Any work involving sewer lines needs to meet several safety standards and codes. Nearly any work involving a sewer line, whether it be a repair or a replacement, will need a permit.
Q. What is trenchless sewer line replacement?
Trenchless sewer repairs help homeowners avoid major landscaping disruptions and higher costs. Some excavation is still needed to get the job done, but digging up an entire yard isn’t the standard practice with a trenchless approach. As long as pipes are still structurally sound, they can be repaired and sometimes even replaced through small, vertical holes made along the pipeline.
Q. When should I replace my sewer line?
As soon as a symptom of a sewer line problem appears, a professional should be called in to inspect the area and diagnose the issue. If they recommend a replacement or repair, it shouldn’t be put off. Ignoring a sewer line problem risks further damage, such as sewage backup inside the home and even foundational damage.
Q. What kind of material is a sewer line typically made from?
Sewer lines have been constructed from multiple types of materials. In older homes, sewer pipes made from copper, clay, cast iron, Orangeburg, or lead are commonly found. It’s important to let only an experienced contractor deal with sewer pipes in older homes, as the chosen material could contain toxic substances. Today most sewer pipes are made from PVC or ABS piping. Both are safer, more durable, and more affordable than yesteryear’s sewer lines.