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Question DetailsAsked on 12/9/2013

Trenchless or open sewer pipe replacement?

I need to replace an old cast iron sewer pipe from the house to the main sewere due to tree root obstruction. I live in NJ. I've had two contractors quote me for almost same amount with different approaches, one trenchless and the other one says he would not recommend trenchless but a re-route of the pipe with open dig and replace with PVC pipe. I've read that in NYC trenchless is illegal because of the problems it causes later. I need some recommendations and feedback. Thanks

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2 Answers


Not an expert on this topic but I can tell you many towns do use these methods for repairing sewer lines. As far as I know there are two main ways of doing it.

One way is to clean the line thuroughly of sediment and obstructions with a drain cleaning machine. Another tool is then sent through the pipe that sprays a liner of almost an epoxy like material that hardens in about 30 minutes. The pipe is slightly smaller but not enough to slow the flow rate of the pipe.

The second way is to use a hydraulic fracturing tool to crack the existing pipe. The have to be two entry points for this method. One feeds the fracturing tool and hose through the pipe and the other is for the cable that pulls the tool and a flexible pipe through the existing expanded pipe. I think that system has a 30 year warrantee. I do not know why NYC does not allow it's use if they indeed do. They do have some crazy codes that other areas of the country do not have.

The advantage of the new PVC pipe would be possibly that you could route it around the troubling tree roots, but you will be tearing up your yard and any old growth landscaping in the way.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon


Here are a couple of previous comments on that decision:

As you have found out, the two typically run about the same cost, or even more for trenchless if your total run is not more than about 100 feet or so. "Trenchless" is not truly non-instusive - it is trenchless but does require 2 pits be dug - one at each end, to provide accdess for inserting the lining and for the equipment used for it.

IF I had a choice at reasonable cost I would definitely go with open trenching - you do not reduce the pipe diameter, you can see what actually caused your problem, can put in copper sulfate or a protective outer casing if you encounter an area with heavy tree roots that might damage your pipe, etc. My other thoughts are in one of the referenced comments above.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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