Upgrading Your Pipes

When Should You Consider Using Pipe Bursting As The Method To Replace Your Sewer Lateral

While sewer laterals are often made of durable materials such as cast iron, they don't last forever. Wastewater can cause your sewer lateral to deteriorate and crack, which has a number of negative effects. It can let tree roots into the pipe to clog your sewer lateral, and it can also allow groundwater to enter into it — both of these can cause wastewater to back up through your floor drains.

When it's time to replace an aging sewer lateral, you have a few options available. Trenching, pipe relining and pipe bursting can all be used for sewer lateral replacement. Pipe bursting is the most recent method to have been developed, and it's often the best choice.

When a sewer lateral replacement company uses pipe bursting, they drag a new polyethylene pipe through your existing sewer lateral. An expander head on the front of the polyethylene pipe guides it through the old one, breaking the old sewer lateral apart in the process. The result is a brand new sewer lateral that connects your home's plumbing to the municipal sewer system.

When should you consider pipe bursting for sewer lateral replacement over your alternatives? Read on to find out.

1. You Don't Want To Dig Up Your Yard

The traditional method of sewer lateral replacement is to dig a trench in your yard that exposes the entire pipe. Once the pipe is exposed, it can simply be broken apart and replaced with a new one connecting your home's plumbing to the municipal sewer system.

Unfortunately, the process of digging a trench in your yard to expose your sewer lateral will ruin your landscaping. In some cases, a portion of your sewer lateral may even be underneath your home's driveway, requiring the plumbing company to dig through it as well. Trees above the sewer lateral will need to be removed, and the roots of nearby trees may be severed while digging a trench.

All in all, digging a trench in your yard is an invasive process that often requires you to perform extensive landscaping work in order to return your yard to its original condition.

Pipe bursting only requires two small holes to be dug in your yard — the entire sewer lateral doesn't need to be exposed in order to replace your sewer lateral with a new pipe. You'll experience much less disruption by opting for pipe bursting over traditional sewer lateral replacement digging a trench.

2. Your Sewer Lateral Is Buried Deep Underground

The cost of digging a trench depends heavily on how deep your sewer lateral is buried. Sewer laterals are buried deep enough so that they're below the frost line. This prevents wastewater from freezing in the pipe during the winter, which would cause it to crack apart. Homes in warmer areas may have a deeply buried sewer lateral as well, though it's not as common.

A deep sewer lateral requires more trenching in order to expose the lateral, and the extra work will increase the cost of replacement. Very deep sewer laterals (around deeper than five or six feet) will also require scaffolding to prevent the trench from caving in while the plumbers are replacing it, which drives up the cost even more.

While pipe bursting is often more expensive than digging a trench to replace your sewer lateral, this isn't always true when the sewer lateral is buried deeply. In these cases, you can save money by opting for pipe bursting instead of trenching.

3. Your Existing Sewer Lateral Is in Poor Condition

Another form of sewer lateral replacement that doesn't require digging a trench is pipe relining. This method is similar to pipe bursting, but the replacement pipe cures and hardens to the inside of the existing pipe.

If your existing sewer lateral is in poor condition, then the pipe relining process may fail. Extensive cracks or broken areas in the pipe makes it more difficult for the new pipe to adhere to the surface of the existing pipe. In these cases, pipe bursting is a more reliable method of sewer lateral replacement.

Overall, pipe bursting is often superior to digging a trench to replace your sewer lateral. The process can be completed much more quickly, and it does less damage to your yard. If your sewer lateral is deteriorating due to old age and needs to be replaced, contact a sewer lateral replacement service in your area to examine your pipe using a camera. They'll be able to tell you where they'll need to dig and help you decide which sewer lateral replacement option is best for you.