There’s no doubt that one of the least fulfilling home improvement projects is sewer repair. But if your house is 40 or more years old, unfortunately, this is a reality you must face. Large trees and their root systems are often to blame for sewer line clogs or leaks. A tree’s root system extends 12 to 36 inches below the surface but can extend horizontally up to 2 to 3 times the diameter of the branch canopy. As the tree grows, roots invade underground pipes and can crack or even break them.
The main reason homeowners dread sewer replacement or repair is the amount of restorative work needed afterward. And although trenchless options have been around for about 15 years, many homeowners are not aware of them.
When you decide it’s time for that long-overdue replacement or you need immediate repair, one of the newest tools professionals will often use is a sewer camera. The high resolution camera is placed on the end of a flexible rod and inserted into the pipe. The sewer camera’s images are sent back to the operator to show him or her exactly where along the pipe the problem might be. Identifying the exact location of a pipe’s leak or crack allows the plumber to dig up a significantly smaller area of your basement or patio or backyard landscaping. Trenchless sewer line repair is more costly, (up to 50% more than traditional digging) but 73% of homeowners surveyed said they would pay a little more for the repair if it meant less disruption and largely eliminated the cost to repair floors, patios, sidewalks, decks or other landscaping later.
Sewer cameras can come in handy even before you experience a problem. If you have an older home and are planning a major remodel of an outdoor patio or deck, it would be smart to have an inspection done since you’re planning to disrupt and dig anyway. Getting any needed repairs completed at the same time can be thought of as a time saver. Inspections are also recommended on a home you plan to purchase, especially if the home is older or is on a lot with large, established trees.