Sleeve or Replace – What's Necessary for Your Sewer Line?
Sewer line repairs are messy, time-consuming, and potentially disruptive. Depending on the location of the failure, you may need to excavate a substantial portion of your yard, ruining landscaping or even affecting hardscaping features such as paths or driveways. Sleeves or liners offer a cheaper alternative, but they're not always suitable for every case.
The only person who can determine which option is best for your home is a qualified plumber who has already begun to investigate your specific problem. However, this guide will help explain how your plumber will arrive at their conclusions and what you can expect based on the current condition of your sewer lines.
How Do Sleeves Work?
Sleeves or liners can go by numerous names, but you'll often see this technology called CIPP. CIPP stands for "cured in place pipe," which refers to the installation method. When using a liner, your plumber will insert a flexible sleeve into your existing pipe. This sleeve can be fairly long and goes into the pipe flat. Once inside, plumbers inflate the sleeve and use it as an outer lining for cured epoxy.
This process produces a strong and permanent liner inside that effectively acts as a new pipe. Your old pipe acts as a shape and guide for the CIPP installation, but it's no longer a critical structural part of your sewer line. Instead, the cured liner creates a permanent barrier that acts as your pipe's new outer wall, creating a repair that will last as long as a traditional pipe replacement.
When Can You Use a Sleeve?
There are generally two requisites for a sleeve repair:
- The original pipe must be relatively intact
- The pipe grading must be correct
Since the sleeve will run through the original pipe, it must be able to do so without encountering obstructions (such as a collapsed or separated sewer line). A complete pipe collapse will block the sleeve, preventing your plumber from running it to the opposite side of the repair. A sewer line inspection will usually reveal these issues.
Grading is another significant concern. The sleeve repair will follow the same path and grade as your existing pipe, which must pitch toward the city sewer connection. While all sewer lines should have proper grading when installed, shifting soil or damage can cause them to "lean" towards your home. In these cases, a CIPP installation will not have the required grading.
What's the Alternative?
If you can't repair your sewer line with a liner, you'll need to fall back on traditional "open trench" methods. These methods involve digging out the old pipe and installing a new one. While these methods are tried-and-true, they tend to be expensive and fairly destructive to the surrounding property. Always have your plumber conduct a thorough inspection to ensure a cheaper method isn't available.
For more information about sewer line repair, contact a plumber in your area.