Having problems with damaged drainage pipes? Wondering what is trenchless sewer repair exactly? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

This minimally-invasive technique repairs damaged drainage pipes without the major excavation work normally associated with sewer repair.

While you probably haven’t heard about it until now, trenchless sewer repair has been around since the 1940s (slip lining). However, it really took off in the 1970s with the introduction of structural pipe lining, a pipe rehabilitation technique first developed in Europe but now widely used in the US.


What does ‘trenchless’ mean exactly?

Well, a trench is a long, narrow ditch. Therefore, trenchless technology means working without trenches or doing underground construction work without extensive digging.

The main benefit of trenchless sewer repair is the fact that we can do a lot of work (and inspection) without having to re-route traffic or dig a trench through your living room. It’s also faster than conventional methods. It can usually get the job done in hours rather than days.


Trenchless sewer repair vs traditional methods

Traditional sewer repair methods tend to be pretty invasive. You’re undoubtedly very familiar with them. They often involve heavy-duty excavation equipment, big ditches, huge piles of dirt in  your home or building, the inconvenience of re-routed traffic and the cost of putting everything back together again. Oh, and as we just pointed out, conventional sewer replacement projects usually take several times as long to complete.

Don’t get us wrong. Traditional methods are tried and true. They do work, and they work well. However, thanks to trenchless techniques we can now get some of the work done more quickly and without the inconvenience. In the long run, trenchless sewer repair is also less expensive as you shall see.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits…


Benefits of trenchless sewer repair

  • Faster – It can often get the job done in just one day while the same repair could take several days or weeks using conventional methods.
  • Cost-effective – Using trenchless methods to repair a sewer might seem more expensive when compared to traditional methods until you factor in the cost of replacing damaged property. Remember, traditional techniques for repairing sewers are usually quite invasive. After the work is done you’ll be stuck with the bill for putting everything back together again. Depending on what needed to be destroyed to get to the damaged pipes, this could mean thousands of dollars in additional expenses.
  • Minimally-invasive – Because sewer pipes are underground and rather hard to get at, repairs usually involve some destruction of property. Trenchless repair keeps this to a minimum though.
  • Doesn’t destroy your property – Depending on where the damaged pipe is located, traditional methods might involve digging up floors and tearing down walls. The cost of fixing this kind of damage could be significant. Trenchless methods can often get the job done by digging only one or two small pits outside,  just enough to access the pipe.
  • Effective – Repairing sewers using trenchless techniques is just as effective as traditional methods. If you’re wondering why it isn’t used in all cases, this is because it doesn’t work in all cases. We’ll get to that in a minute.
  • Designed to last decades – Trenchless sewer repair isn’t just a quick fix. For example, the HDPE replacement pipes used in pipe bursting have a 50-100 year life use expectancy.


Types of trenchless sewer repair

The four most common types of trenchless sewer repair are,

  • Cured-in-place-pipe lining (Also called structural pipe lining) – This involves creating a new pipe within the old one by inserting an epoxy-soaked liner into the damaged pipe and leaving it to cure for a few hours. When it’s removed your new pipe is as good as new.
  • Spray lining and brush coating – This trenchless technique is similar to structural pipe lining. However, instead of using a felt liner to create a new inner pipe, an epoxy or flexible polymer is sprayed or brushed onto the inside of the damaged pipe.
  • Pipe bursting – Pipe bursting is used to replace a damaged pipe by using a winch with an attached bursting head to pull a brand new HDPE pipe into the old pipe. The old pipe is broken and the new one takes its place.
  • Slip lining – Slip lining dates all the way back to the 1940s and involves inserting a smaller diameter pipe into the damaged one and then filling the area around it with grout. Although slip lining is considered a trenchless technique, it’s more invasive than the above-mentioned techniques. This is because a bigger pit needs to be dug in order to lower the new inner replacement pipe sections.

For more information about each of these techniques check out Trenchless sewer repair: The pros and cons.


Does trenchless sewer repair work in all cases?

It would be great if it did. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Whether or not trenchless sewer repair will work for you really depends on the condition of the damaged pipe. For example, if the pipe is collapsed, backpitched, or improperly graded trenchless repair methods may not work.

Sometimes, trenchless methods might work, but they aren’t cost-effective. For example, if your damaged pipe isn’t very deep (i.e. it’s easy to get at), trenchless techniques can certainly be used. However, it might be more cost-effective to repair it using traditional methods. However, if it’s situated under your driveway or your brand new swimming pool, it’s probably better to use a trenchless technique. If you use traditional methods in that situation the cost of repairing the damage would likely set you back thousands of dollars.  

The only way to know for sure if trenchless sewer repair will work for your specific problem is to contact a sewer replacement contractor qualified to repair damaged sewers using trenchless techniques. They’ll be able to tell you after they come out and perform a video inspection of the damaged pipe.


How much does trenchless sewer repair cost? Is it affordable?


Trenchless methods often cost between $135-$200 per linear foot, whereas traditional methods cost anywhere between $175- $250 per linear foot plus the costs of fixing tiles, bathrooms, kitchens, walls, etc.

Trenchless sewer repair usually doesn’t destroy your property the way traditional methods do. And when your property isn’t destroyed, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars getting it back to the way it was before the repair. Fixing the damage caused by traditional methods of sewer repair can be quite expensive, even running as high as $25,000 or more in some cases.

Sewer Pros is a licensed and insured contractor in Los Angeles County qualified to perform trenchless sewer repair. Get in touch with us today by calling (310) 208-0525 and find out how this minimally-invasive technique can save you time and money!