The stench. The mess. The inconvenience. If you’ve ever dealt with sewer problems, you know just how stressful they can be – and the solutions to those problems aren’t always easy to come by.
That’s where sewer line excavation comes in.
But what exactly is sewer line excavation – and how does sewer line excavation work?
In this post, we’ll guide you through the nitty-gritty details of the process so you know what to expect (and hopefully, we’ll do our best to set your mind at ease).
Ah, the joys of homeownership. Tending to our lawns, fixing the faucet, and of course, attending to our plumbing system.
While it may not be the most glamorous task, maintaining your sewer system is essential to keeping your home in tip-top shape.
But how do you know when it’s time for a sewer line excavation?
Here are a few signs to watch out for.
If your sinks, toilets, or tubs are draining more slowly than usual, it could be a sign of a clogged sewer line. While a minor clog can easily be remedied with a plunger or snake, a persistent blockage could be indicative of a larger issue that requires excavation.
The scent of sewage wafting through your home is never pleasant – and it’s hard to miss. If persistent odors are emanating from your drains or coming from your lawn, it could mean that your sewer line has a break or leak and is in need of repair.
Wet Spots on the Lawn
A healthy lawn is one of the biggest hallmarks of a well-kept home. But if you’re noticing wet spots or depressions in your lawn, it could be a sign of a septic system in need of repair. If you also smell an unpleasant odor outside, it’s time to call a landscaper for help.
Multiple Drain Backups
If you’re experiencing multiple backups at once, it could be a sign that your sewer line is in dire need of repair. You may be able to locate the source of the problem by checking your clean-out access port to see if your sewer drain is blocked.
While it’s not a telltale sign on its own, aging pipes could mean you’re due for an excavation. Cast iron pipes, for instance, have a lifespan of 50-75 years before they start to corrode and crack. If your home was built decades ago and you haven’t had your sewer line assessed in a while, aging pipes could mean it’s time for an upgrade.
There are a few different types of sewer line excavations to know about, each of which has its different requirements and costs.
The traditional excavation method is the oldest and the most common way of repairing a sewer line.
This process requires digging a trench along the length of the damaged pipe to access the sewer line. A backhoe or other excavation equipment is used to dig out, remove, and replace the damaged pipe.
Another option is trenchless excavation. It is a relatively new way of repairing a sewer line. This method is less invasive and requires less digging, making it less expensive and more environmentally friendly.
Trenchless excavation uses various techniques, including pipe bursting, pipe lining, and hydro excavation. These processes vary in cost and efficiency, but they are all faster and less disruptive than traditional excavation.
Open-cut excavation is a blend of traditional and trenchless excavation methods. This method involves digging a trench only at the location of the damaged pipe. Once the area is excavated, the damaged pipe is removed, and a new one is installed.
There are several other methods you might rely on, too, including horizontal directional drilling and pipe ramming. Ask your contractor which method is best for your situation.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to sewer line excavation so you know exactly what to expect.
Before any digging happens, you need to locate the sewer line. It’s usually underground, of course, but not every property has a clear sewer line map.
A plumber or a utility locator will mark the line with paint or flags, indicating its path and depth. This step is crucial in preventing accidents and avoiding damage to other utility lines and structures.
Once the sewer line is marked, the excavation team will arrive on-site. They will prepare the area by removing any structures or landscaping that might obstruct their work, like trees or pavement.
The team will then use heavy equipment like excavators, backhoes, and bulldozers to dig up a trench along the sewer line path.
The team will then dig up the trench, exposing the sewer line. Depending on the depth and location of the line, the excavation might be relatively shallow or fairly deep.
Once the line is exposed, the team will inspect it for damage or blockages. They might use cameras or other inspection tools to diagnose the problem.
If the problem is minor, like a clog, the team can usually clear it with a snake or hydro jetting.
But if the issue is severe, such as one that might be caused by a broken pipe, the team will need to replace the damaged section.
In this specific situation, this would entail cutting out the broken pipe and installing a new one in its place. The team will also test the sewer line for leaks and make sure that it’s functioning correctly.
After the sewer issue is fixed, the team will backfill the trench with soil and compact it to prevent future settling. They will also restore the landscaping and structures that were removed earlier.
The team will clean up the debris and any remaining mess and ensure that the site is safe and ready for use.
If you’ve never had your sewer line excavated before, you should know that it’s not a one-day job. The plumber will have to dig a sizable trench in your yard – sometimes up to 10 feet deep, depending on how far down your sewer line is.
This means that your yard will look like a construction site for a few days – or even a few weeks, depending on how extensive the work is.
The good news is that once the excavation work is done, the plumber will begin the process of replacing your damaged sewer line. This is typically done with PVC or ABS pipes, which are connected with a waterproof adhesive. This part of the process usually only takes a day or two.
Once the repair work is done, the plumber will backfill the trench with dirt. This means that your yard will be left looking like a lumpy dirt patch. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to hire a landscaper to fix it up, or do it yourself.
Either way, it’s important to let the dirt settle for a few weeks before attempting to plant anything on it.
Now that you know how sewer line excavation works, you’ll no longer dread the thought of digging up your yard.
The reality is that there probably aren’t many people out there who would call “sewer excavation” a fun weekend activity – but finding the right excavation team can make all the difference when it comes to simplicity and a job well done. By hiring the best of the best, you can make sure the project goes off with a hitch.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to Valley View Excavating. We have years of experience in the industry and can help you get your plumbing back in order. Contact us today for a free consultation!