08:09AM | 09/06/05
Member Since: 04/07/05
6 lifetime posts

About a year ago I moved into a home in N.J. and we've been having problems with the sewer line getting clogged up. I was told that it might be do to some tree roots - there is a stump in the front of the house near the sidewalk that was never removed. The house is split style home around 35 years old. I called one company which quoted us a price of around $4,000 to replace the sewer line (about 34 feet, I believe 4 inch pipe, 2 cleanouts). The lawn would be doug up in order to remove the pipe. Is this too much to pay, or does it sound reasonable? Please advise.


08:06AM | 09/10/05
Member Since: 08/29/04
227 lifetime posts
There are a number of alternatives for replacing the sewer line. It really depends on the depth and the landscaping. If your yard is landscaped like the Imperial Gardens of Japan, then you probably want someone to come in and line your pipe. This is a fiberglass liner that is installed on the inside of the pipe, which takes the shape of the inside of the pipe and seals it completely. The pipe has to be cleaned first and dirt can't be entering the pipe. So if they can't stop the dirt entering, you may have to use another technology called pipe bursting. This is where they run a machine down the inside of the pipe which opens it up by breaking it and drags a new pipe along behind it, which takes the place of the old pipe. Both of these two options are much more expensive than digging and repairing/replacing, but you have to consider the age of the pipe and the life expectancy. If your pipe is more than 35 years old and its clay, you are going to end up replacing it if you want to keep the house for a lifetime. Clay sewers have a 60 to 70 year lifespan, after that they begin breaking down, with tree roots, expansion and contraction and other natural hazards.

Roots can grow in any type piping except glued PVC and the new fiberglass. Since your house is probably either clay or cast iron or PVC with gaskets, you may be able to dig up small sections. But when considering the repair, make sure you know all the costs. Digging a complete yard will require you to do a lot of landscaping, sidewalks and even possibly street repair. This is part of the cost people don't tell you when they quote you a price.

If you've had your pipe inspected with a camera on the inside, look at the tape and decide, is it time to put a new engine in this 35 year old car, or replace the car?

Make sure you check with contractors who specialize in pipe lining and bursting technology before you decide to dig the whole thing. And make sure one of them will camera the line so you know for sure what your need to do.

Good Luck

Raymond VinZant Plumbing Prof.


09:44AM | 09/14/05
Member Since: 04/07/05
6 lifetime posts
Thank you for your response. I ended up getting the line cleaned and looked at with a camera and was told that there is a sag in the sewer line (a majority of the section) - this is why things were building up and the line kept getting clogged. I was told that they didn't recommend digging and replacing because it seems that the people who originally put the line in didn't put it at the correct pitch, so this would be hard to correct by just replacing a section. He recommended putting in all new piping and moving it up higher (which would be very expensive), or just leaving the pipe like it was and getting it jet cleaned if it gets clogged up again. I would still have the sag in the line, but it would be a temporary fix for getting rid of the buildup. I'm uncertain as to what I should do as I really don't have the money to replace all the piping and would feel hesitant about having that major work done at this time.

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