Ask the Sewer Guy


Need help with plumbing questions? Ask our sewer guy! Underground Connections has the most knowledgeable and reliable team around, and we’re ready to answer any questions you can dish out. Put our customer service to the test and submit your questions here, we will respond in a timely manner.

1. How does the cost of open trench sewer replacement compare to trenchless sewer replacement?

The cost of trenchless sewer replacement is usually the same or a little less. The longer the sewer, the more savings. With open trench sewer replacement, people forget to include the cost of getting rid of the extra dirt that doesn’t settle from the trench, as well as the cost of re-topsoil and seeding the area. Other considerations are replacing landscaping and trees that are destroyed from open trench sewer replacement as well as the cost of replacing patios, driveways and sidewalks that the sewer goes under. With trenchless sewer replacement (sometimes called pipe bursting), lawns, decks, landscape, patios, driveways, and sidewalks remain undisturbed.

2. What part of the sewer am I responsible for and what part of the sewer is the city responsible for?

All cities are different regarding who is responsible for what portion of their sewer lateral. Some cities require the homeowner to be responsible up to the side walk area, other cities require the homeowner replace the lateral up the city main sewer. Call your city’s building department to see what portion of your sewer lateral you are responsible for.

3. How long will the new trenchless sewer pipe last?

Underground Connections uses HDPE DR 17 (high density polyethylene) seamless pipe. It is compared to a schedule 80 size pipe. Our pipe is about a half inch thick. The fact that it is so thick and is seamless, the pipe is guaranteed against any future root intrusion for well over 100 years. We are not re-lining the old pipe, which a liner is depending on the integrity of the old pipe. We are replacing your sewer line with a new pipe, while the old pipe is destroyed underground.

4. My pipe has a 45 degree bend in the yard and then heads to the main. Can this pipe bursting pipe bend?

Yes. HDPE can make up to 45 degree bends. It cannot make 90 degree bends. However, there are solutions to still replace your sewer trenchlessly if a 90 degree bend exists. One of our team members can come out and camera your line for free and discuss the options to replace your sewer using the trenchless method.

5. The previous owners of our house put an addition on the house. Our sewer goes directly under the addition and the sewer is bad in that that section. Is there a way to pipe burst under our addition?

Yes, we can pipe burst under buildings, deck, roads or any surface structure that may be in the way.

6. Right now my pipe is a 4 inch line. Is there a way to make the pipe bigger? I want to make it a 6 inch line.

Yes, we can up-size your pipe up to two sizes bigger. For example, if your line is a 4 inch line, we can up-size it to either a 6 or 8 inch line. There are some cases where we can up-size more than two sizes. This can be determined after one of our team members take a look at the specific project to see if conditions are right to increase the size more than two times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a specific question for us? Want to find out more about a sewer issue that others have had before? Check out our frequently asked questions page to see if there’s something there that can help you out. If you have a question that you don’t see on our list, you can give us a call and we will be happy to assist you.

1. What does Trenchless Sewer Replacement mean?

Traditionally, sewer lines that need to be replaced are dug up using an excavator. An open trench is dug from the house all the way to the connection at the main line, the old pipe is taken out, and new pipe is installed. Then all of the dirt is backfilled into the trench, leaving a mound of dirt from the house to the main. With trenchless sewer replacement, an open trench is not required. A new pipe or liner replaces the original sewer with little or no excavation.

2. What is the difference between re-lining a sewer and pipe bursting?

Re-lining a sewer is when a liner is placed in the existing sewer line and is adhered to the walls of the pipe. The liner takes the shape of the existing line, so if the condition of the sewer line is poor, this may not be a good option to fix the sewer line. You should have a sewer camera run down your sewer line to make sure the liner will fix your sewer problem. If there are bellies, breaks or displaced joints you may want to consider other options. Pipe Bursting a sewer line is when your existing sewer line is completely replaced by a new, seamless, stronger pipe. The pipe is made of HDPE (high density polyethylene) and is stronger and thicker than PVC pipe. Two small open pits are excavated, one at the connection by the main and one at the house. Using a small machine and a bursting head, the new pipe is pulled through the old sewer line. The old sewer line is pushed into the bank of the ground out of the new pipe. New connections are made at the house and at the main. In most cases, pipe bursting is less expensive than traditional open trench and re-lining methods. The reason is that the time and materials required for pipe bursting are significantly less; therefore the savings can be passed on to the homeowner.

3. If my sewer backs up, does it always mean I have to replace my sewer?

No. The best advice is to have someone come to camera your sewer. Make sure you know all of the facts before someone talks you into a whole sewer replacement. Unless you visually see what your sewer line looks like inside, you cannot determine the cause. It is best practice to watch the screen with the person running the camera, and ask a lot of questions. You may find that you just need to snake the sewer to clear an area or you may see a break in the sewer line which would require a repair.

4. What is a 'spot repair'?

This is the replacement of only one or more sections of the pipe. When a spot repair is done, new PVC plastic pipe replaces the broken area and is connected to the viable portion of the preexisting pipe. As time passes, the part of the sewer line that is not replaced becomes susceptible to the same conditions that caused the original destruction. (usually tree roots).

5. Is it okay to have standing water in my floor drain in the basement?

Yes, that is normal. The water prevents sewer gas from seeping back up the pipe into your house.

6. What are some common causes of sewer smell in a basement?

After the odor has been verified not to be natural gas, some of the common causes of sewer smell are caused by dried up floor drains or broken or missing clean-out covers. Both cases are easily remedied. Simply pour some water into the floor drain if it has dried out. If the clean-out cover needs to be replaced, you can find them in most hardware store and plumbing supply houses.


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