Your home’s main sewer line connects your internal plumbing to either the public wastewater system or a septic tank. Problems with the sewer line can cause blockages, drops in water pressure, and even sewage backups. You may be able to have the line repaired, but in some cases, the whole line will need to be replaced.
Unfortunately, sewer line problems that necessitate replacement can be expensive, but there are ways to reduce the overall price, such as having a home warranty. This sewer line replacement cost guide will outline pricing factors, when to replace your sewer line, and ways to save.
Costs for a full replacement usually range from $3,000 to $6,000.Get Estimates
Depending on type of repair this process can range from $50 - $500 per foot of pipe.Get Estimates
The average plumbing job usually totals between $150 and $500.Get Estimates
What Is a Sewer Line Replacement?
The main sewer line from your home to the public sanitary sewer system is sometimes called the sewer lateral. You’re not responsible for the part of the line that drains stormwater from the street, but if the sewer line on your property cracks, clogs, or leaks, you will need to pay for repairs. The same applies to lateral sewer lines that lead to private septic tanks.
Since these pipes are almost always buried underground, replacing it has traditionally meant excavating the ground for the whole length of the line. This is no longer necessary in all circumstances, such as in trenchless repair. Still, a full sewer line replacement is a large, expensive job that professional plumbers or sewer contractors must perform.
Sewer Line Replacement Cost
Overall, the average price for sewer line replacement is about $5,000. Costs for a full replacement usually range from $3,000 to $6,000 if there are no major obstacles. Typically, you’ll pay between $50 and $200 per linear foot of sewer line, though the pipe material used and the difficulty of accessing the existing pipe can affect your price. Additionally, excavation, backfill, and landscaping may add extra expenses to your project.
Sewer Line Replacement Cost by Square Foot
The most important factor in determining the cost of sewer line replacement is the length of the sewer line. In a city or dense suburban area, you might only have a sewer line of 25–60 feet. However, on larger rural properties, you might have lines of 75 feet or more. Since prices tend to range from $50 to $200 per linear foot, here’s what you can expect to pay for various lengths of sewer pipe replacement.
Sewer Line Cost by Line Length
|Length of Sewer Line||Replacement Cost|
Sewer Line Replacement Cost by Material
Although the length of the sewer line is the primary cost factor, the type of pipe material you choose also affects your bottom line. Plastics called PVC and ABS are the most commonly used materials since they are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to install. However, copper and cast iron pipes are also somewhat common—though much more expensive—because of their strength.
In the post-World War II housing boom, many American homes had Orangeburg pipes installed for sewer lines. These pipes were composed of compressed wood fibers sealed with coal tar, but they were phased out in the 1970s because they didn’t last as long as promised. A few older homes may still have Orangeburg piping, which must be replaced with a modern alternative.
Most main sewer lines use 4-inch diameter pipe. Here are some approximate prices for 48 linear feet of each material, not including any necessary connectors or valves.
Sewer Line Cost by Pipe Material
|Pipe Material||Cost for 48 Linear Feet|
Sewer Line Replacement Cost by Type of Repair
Traditional sewer line replacement involves digging up the old pipe and replacing it. However, this might not be the best solution for every broken sewer line. Trenchless sewer line repair refers to methods that don’t require digging up your yard or cracking into concrete slabs. Trenchless methods aren’t possible for all plumbing issues, but they can substantially reduce the time and disruption when used for repairs. Here are a few methods for fixing sewer lines:
- The plumbing contractor performs a camera inspection of the interior of the existing drain line. If they find any clogs, they will use a process called hydro-jetting to remove the clogs with pressurized water.
- Pipe bursting is a method of full replacement that forces new pipe through the existing pipe. A hole is dug at each end of the sewer line, and a machine pushes the old pipe out one side as the new pipe is fed in the other.
- Cured-in-place pipe lining (CIPP) is a type of pipe repair rather than replacement, but it can essentially “heal” damaged pipe without needing to dig it up. A soft, epoxy-coated liner is inserted into the sewer line and inflated. Once dry, it forms a new, undamaged interior surface within the old pipe.
- Similar to CIPP, a resin lining can be sprayed into the interior of the previous sewer line in areas where a liner can’t fit. This is sometimes called spin-casting.
Here are some common price ranges for using these trenchless methods to completely replace a 48’ sewer line. Costs for trenchless methods range from $60 to $250 per linear foot.
Sewer Line Cost by Repair Type
|Type of Repair||Cost|
Cost Factors for Sewer Line Replacement
What’s the difference between a $2,000 sewer line replacement and a $20,000 job? Here are some considerations that can determine the total cost you’ll pay:
- Labor and installation
- Traditional or trenchless repair
- Yard repair
Cost by Distance
A long line means more pipe material, more digging, and more time and labor to install it. Unfortunately, longer pipes also require more connectors, meaning they have more potential weak points. Any bends and elbows in the pipes will also increase length and costs.
Cost for Labor and Installation
Because this isn’t a DIY job, it’s difficult to isolate what percentage of the total sewer line repair cost goes to labor. However, professional plumbers tend to charge $50 to $150 an hour depending on their experience level. Trenchless pipe repair and replacement professionals, on the other hand, tend to charge a flat fee by the linear foot.
Costs for Yard Repair
The average $3,000 to $6,000 average doesn’t take into account potential yard or driveway repair that you’ll need to perform after the trench has been filled in. Replacing an asphalt driveway costs about $15 per square foot, and resodding a lawn costs $0.50–$2 per square foot.
Costs for Inspection
When you first notice problems with your sewer line, you’ll need to schedule an inspection. A contractor will use a sewer camera on a long snake to check for blockages, corrosion, cracks, and more. This typically costs $100–$500.
Cost by Location
The location of the pipe can lead to additional costs if the sewer line is difficult to access or encased in a concrete slab. If the plumber or contractor needs to go through a wall, trench under a basement, or break up a driveway, you’ll need to pay for both the demolition and the repair.
Cost for Traditional vs. Trenchless
You may have noticed that while trenchless sewer line repair and replacement are less disruptive, they’re not substantially less expensive than traditional methods. However, trenchless repair does negate the need for excavation and yard repair, so it may ultimately be less expensive, particularly if your yard has a lot of obstacles or your pipes are encased in concrete.
Costs for a Sewer Line Trench
The good news is that trenching is typically covered within the cost of professional sewer line replacement. Otherwise, it tends to cost $4–$12 a linear foot, or $30–$70 per cubic yard. Keep in mind: This process is more complicated than simply digging a hole and then filling it back in when the job is done. The soil also needs to be recompacted, the old pipe needs to be hauled away, and any hazardous materials must be cleaned up before yard repair can begin.
Other Sewer Line Repair Costs
After the inspection, you might find that you don’t need to replace your entire sewer line. Here are some common problems that might necessitate a repair rather than a replacement.
Tree Root Removal
It’s not uncommon for an errant tree root to begin to grow into and through sewer line pipes. When this happens, a plumber may be able to replace only the section of pipe penetrated by tree roots. The removal of the roots themselves will usually cost $100–$500, but the inspection and repair of the damaged pipe will likely cost the standard $50–$200 per linear foot.
Cracked Pipe Replacement
Pipes that have cracked for other reasons, such as freezing temperatures or heavy foot traffic, can often be repaired via trenchless methods, such as lining and spin-casting. You’ll still likely pay $60–$250 per foot of pipe, but the cost will be less than replacing an entire sewer line.
Collapsed Line Replacement
A buried pipe that has sunk or collapsed will slow down the water flowing through it and potentially cause backups. Unfortunately, collapsed lines usually need to be replaced, though trenchless repair might be possible in some situations. Again, this will cost $50–$200 per foot for trenched repair or replacement and $60–$250 for trenchless work.
How to Save Money on a Sewer Line Replacement
Homeowners often balk at the steep price tag of sewer line replacement, so here are some tips to help keep costs down:
- Ask about trenchless methods: Although these replacements cost about the same or more per linear foot of line, you won’t need to pay for yard cleanup and repair if your yard is eligible for them.
- Prepare your yard: If you can’t avoid trenching, prepare your yard carefully to avoid waste. Cut and remove sod, keeping it watered while the job is ongoing, and move plants or shrubs to replant.
- Minimize repairs: Ask your contractor whether it’s possible to repair one section of the pipe rather than replacing the entire line.
- Insure your line: Before problems occur, check to see whether your home insurance company offers additional sewer line coverage. Though regular policies don’t usually cover sewer lines, it may be worth paying extra for this add-on if your line is old.
- Keep up with maintenance: Perform regular sewer line maintenance, like keeping trees and their roots away from the line and scheduling annual inspections and cleanings.
Pros and Cons of Replacement
✔ Option to update to lighter, more durable pipes like PVC or ABS
✔ Eliminates the possibility of connections and sewer traps wearing out from old age
✔ Is less expensive in the long term than repairing it in multiple sections over the years
✘ Replacing an entire sewer line at once is an expensive job
✘ Can be disruptive and necessitate yard repairs
When to Replace Your Sewer Line
It’s often difficult to tell whether you can repair your sewer line instead of having it replaced without a camera inspection. However, here are some signs that you need to request a sewer line inspection:
- Sewage odor inside your home or in your yard
- Evidence of sewage backup
- Frequent or multiple drain clogs
- Wet spots in your basement or yard
- Water backing up in one appliance when using another
DIY vs. Professional Sewer Line Replacement
Sewer line repair and replacement aren’t tasks you can accomplish yourself. You would need to rent heavy machinery to reach the pipes. Once you reached the pipes, you’d need tools to remove and replace the line. Your home’s sewer line is too important to risk taking on the job without the training, experience, and tools that professionals have. Although it’s expensive, it’s well worth hiring experienced professional contractors to replace your sewer line.
If your sewer line is experiencing problems and you’ve ruled out your interior plumbing as a cause, it’s a good idea to go ahead and schedule a camera inspection. Although you might not like what you find, at least you’ll know your options for sewer line repair or replacement. Sewer line replacement is a big project that can be difficult to budget for, so if you know your sewer line is old or has had problems in the past, it may be a good idea to start putting away some extra money now.
How to Choose a Professional Installer
We recommend that you contact and receive estimates from at least three contractors before making your choice. When looking for a contractor to replace your home’s sewer line, here are some questions to ask:
- Is your plumbing license up to date? Is your company bonded and insured? If you’re in a state like California that requires a special license for sewer line work, does the contractor performing the work have it?
- How is your company rated by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?
- How do past customers rate your service?
- How will you determine whether the sewer line needs repair or replacement?
- Can I receive my estimate in writing, along with any contracts or warranties?
FAQs About Sewer Line Replacement Costs
What is the average cost of a sewer line replacement?
The average sewer line replacement costs between $3,000 and $6,000.
How much does it cost to replace a sewer line?
Sewer lines typically cost $50 to $200 to replace per linear foot of pipe.
What kind of material is the sewer line typically made from?
Sewer lines are most commonly made from PVS or ABS piping. However, some sewer lines are still made from cast iron or copper. In older homes, the sewer line may be ceramic, concrete, or Orangeburg pipe.
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