Need to replace a sewer line? You might be worried how much it’ll cost you.
The average cost of a sewer line replacement is about $3,500, but it can range from $1,000 to $20,000, depending on your situation.
Cost factors may include:
- A sewer line camera inspection
- The length and quality of pipe installed
- Traditional vs. trenchless methods
- Landscaping and clean up
- The plumber you hire
To help you budget (and hopefully lower some stress), below we’ll explain the details of each factor, and how it plays into your overall cost.
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Cost Factor #1: Sewer line camera inspection
If you need a camera inspection, it will add around$150-$500 to your total bill.
A camera inspection is needed when there's damage to your line that a plumber can't physically see or access.
Instead of digging up your entire sewer line, a plumber can save time (and clean up costs) by threading a camera down your pipes to find out what’s happened.
You may only need to repair one section of your line. And if the damage is difficult to reach (like beneath a concrete slab), a camera will help your plumber plan the easiest and least expensive way to repair your line.
Cost Factor #2: The length and quality of pipe needed
The cost of piping ranges from$200-$500 per square foot. The more piping you need, the more expensive the job will be.
Cost largely depends on what type of piping is installed. Some common sewer piping materials include:
- PVC - The most affordable choice. It’s durable and easy to replace.
- Copper - A more expensive option, but better quality and lasts longer.
- Cast Iron - Highly durable and cheaper than copper, but difficult to replace and subject to corrosion.
- Clay - Common in older homes, clay pipes can still function well, but are fragile and tend to cause problems.
- Orangeburg - Made of compacted wood pulp and referred to as “fiber conduit piping,” Orangeburg piping was used in homes constructed in the 1900’s. Similar to clay, it wasn’t built to withstand the needs of modern living.
For repairs, your plumber will typically use the same kind of piping you already have in place.
A note on outdated plumbing: For older homes with clay or Orangeburg piping, even if you only need one section of your line repaired, full replacement with a modern option like PVC or copper is recommended.
The same thing goes for cast iron. It’s possible to make smaller repairs, but if your pipes have rusted and you see water discoloration, full replacement with PVC or copper is the best long-term solution.
Cost Factor #3: Traditional vs. trenchless methods
Trenchless sewer line replacements are more expensive than trench replacements, but often save homeowners money on clean up costs.
Traditional (trench) method: $50-$125 per square foot
Commonly referred to as “dig and replace,” this method is when your plumber digs up your old sewer line and replaces it with a new piping system. It’s less expensive than a trenchless replacement, but will add to your clean up costs, given the excavation of dirt, gravel and landscaping required.
Trenchless method: $60-$250 per square foot
Due to the headache of clean up, more modern technologies called “trenchless” pipe replacements are now available. Two common trenchless methods include:
1. Pipe Lining: If the pipe isn’t completely broken, it’s possible to re-line it. Your plumber will insert a tube (similar to a deflated hose) that will expand and then harden in place.
2. Pipe Bursting: Your plumber will insert a new pipe through one end of the sewer line, and the new line will fracture or “burst” the old pipe as it’s laid.
Note: If the quality of your existing plumbing is too deteriorated or compromised, trenchless methods may not be possible. Upon inspection, your plumber will assess which method is most appropriate and cost effective.
Cost Factor #4: Landscaping and clean up
This cost won’t be factored into your plumber’s quote, but can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.
Traditional trench methods can leave your yard covered with piles of dirt, dug up flowers, grass, gravel, etc. If you love to garden this might not matter. But if you need to hire a professional landscaper, the totals can add up fast.
Cost Factor #5: The plumber you hire
Typically, the more experience a plumber has, the more expensive they will be.
The upside is that you can trust they’ll do the job safely and correctly — the first time around. There’s nothing worse than having to pay twice for someone to fix a job gone wrong.
Signs of a trustworthy plumber include:
- Years of experience
- Proof of licensing and insurance
- Prompt and professional communication
- A thorough estimate
- Written guarantee of work to be completed
- An online presence (Yelp, Google, Facebook) with 5 star reviews from customers in your area
Ultimately it pays to hire someone who will get the job done right. Peace of mind is priceless!
Need a reliable plumber to replace your sewer line?
Call us to schedule a detailed estimate. With more than 40 years of experience, you can trust that Michael & Son will deliver five-star performance. We offer 24/7 emergency support to ensure that all your needs are covered — even if it’s Sunday at 2 in the morning. Learn more about what to expect when you hire us by visiting our sewer line replacement page.
This blog was written on Jan 13, 2021. Any pricing information is subject to change.