Why is Sewer Line Replacement So Expensive

why is sewer line replacement is so expensive

Did you know that the average sewer line replacement costs between $3,000 and $25,000? Consequently, sewer line replacement is one of the priciest plumbing services. But why is sewer line replacement so expensive?

Sewer line replacement cost is often so expensive because:

  • Technicians may need to excavate parts of the property.
  • Some replacements require drywall and flooring removal.
  • Sewer pipes can be very heavy and challenging to move.
  • Sewer line replacements aren’t a one-person job.
  • Experienced technicians have to handle much of the work.
  • Most sewer line replacements require expensive permits.
  • Landscaping restoration is often part of the service.

Each of these factors significantly impacts the total cost of a sewer line replacement service. This guide will explore these aspects in greater detail to give a more comprehensive understanding of why sewer line replacement is so expensive. Keep reading.

1. Technicians May Need To Excavate Parts of the Property

Homeowners that need to have a sewer line replaced can expect service providers to dig up part of their yard during the removal and replacement process. That’s because sewer line pipes are located underground, typically between 12 in and 72 in (30.48 cm and 182.88 cm) beneath the soil’s surface.

Consequently, technicians and replacement specialists will need to remove the uppermost layer of the yard to reach the sewer line. If the line is placed at a relatively shallow depth, they may use shovels to unearth the pipe.

However, if the sewer line is far deeper, they’ll need to use excavating equipment to reach the sewer line. Because most plumbing service providers don’t own excavating equipment, there’s a good chance they’ll need to rent an excavator from a local construction company.

Renting an excavator isn’t cheap. Daily rental rates average about $1,300 (approximately €1,150). Crucially, sewer line replacement isn’t a one-day job. As a result, plumbing service providers can quickly spend several thousands of dollars on excavation machine rental throughout the replacement. 

The technicians will then attach this cost to the final bill, resulting in a higher expense for homeowners. But excavation isn’t the only factor that can increase the price of a sewer line replacement.

For example, if the technicians need to remove drywall or flooring to reach the sewer line, you’re also looking at property repair costs. 

2. Some Replacements Require Drywall and Flooring Removal

Depending on the precise location of the faulty sewer line, replacement technicians may also need to demolish part of your home. For example, they may rip apart drywall or flooring to access pipes to reach the sewer line. 

Some plumbing specialists include drywall and flooring repair costs in their estimate, but others may not. As a result, homeowners can quickly find themselves shelling out additional funds to repair their homes after a sewer line replacement.

These costs quickly add up, especially if the sewer line runs beneath the home’s foundation. Not only does it require more effort to dig beneath foundations and access a sewer line, but the cost to repair that foundation afterward is typically about $4,500.

Drywall repair costs vary depending on the size of the job, with minor repairs totaling about $150 and extensive repairs easily costing several thousand dollars. In addition, replacing and repairing flooring can be equally pricey, adding to the total cost of a sewer line replacement.

3. Sewer Pipes Can Be Very Heavy and Challenging To Move

The plumbing pipes in a home might be about 1 in (2.54 cm) or 2 in (5.08cm) in diameter, but sewer line pipes are typically much larger. These pipes are at least 8 in (20.32 cm) wide, though most are about 2 ft (60.96 cm) wide. 

This greater size ensures that wastewater and sewage flow easily into public sewer systems. However, it can make sewer lines far heftier and more challenging to move than smaller in-home plumbing pipes. 

Additionally, sewer lines aren’t short. The average length for a sewer line pipe is between about 70 ft and 100 ft (21.3 3m and 30.48 m). As a result, removing a faulty sewer line requires heavy-duty construction equipment like pulling units and hydraulic pipe-lifting machines.

The cost of renting or operating these machines significantly impacts the final price of the repair service. It’s also worth noting that lifting a sewer line pipe typically requires the efforts of multiple people, which increases total labor costs.

why is sewer line replacement so expensive

4. Sewer Line Replacements Aren’t a One-Person Job

As you might imagine, activities like excavating, lifting, and replacing a sewer line aren’t a one-person job. Instead, all these jobs require a team of dedicated professionals working for the better half of the day, typically over several days. 

While this extra labor ensures that the sewer line removal and replacement process goes smoothly, it also increases the service cost. Let’s use a quick example to illustrate these cost increases.

The average residential plumber charges about $100 per hour. Now, let’s say you have a team of between five and ten plumbers working simultaneously. Suddenly this cost increases to about $500 to $1,000 per hour.

Because sewer line replacement typically takes several days, with technicians hard at work throughout the daylight hours, labor costs can quickly add up to several thousands of dollars throughout the replacement service. 

But it’s essential to note that the cost to hire an ordinary residential plumber is often far lower than the cost to hire an experienced sewer line technician. 

why is sewer line replacement so expensive

5. Experienced Technicians Have To Handle Much of the Work

Not only does a sewer line replacement service require a team of workers, but it also requires well-educated and experienced plumbing technicians. These specialists have an in-depth understanding of residential, commercial, and city-owned plumbing systems, including sewer lines.

This superior level of knowledge differentiates them from standard residential plumbers and ensures they follow strict safety and bureaucratic protocols. But it also makes them far pricier than the everyday plumber. 

These professionals can earn up to three times more than their less-experienced or less-educated counterparts. And this higher salary is reflected in their billing. 

However, the upside to this increased labor cost is that high-tier plumbing technicians are also familiar with permitting. It ensures that homeowners don’t need to apply for sewer line replacement permits.

That said, these permits can be quite costly, and nearly all service providers will include the cost of permits when totaling the final service bill.

6. Most Sewer Line Replacements Require Expensive Permits

Before a sewer line technician starts digging, they need to receive a permit to excavate and remove an existing sewer line. The cost of such a permit varies depending on where you live. Permits costs also differ depending on whether the sewer line is located on public or private property.

Still, a sewer line replacement permit can cost more than $1,000. While homeowners aren’t expected to pay for these permits, plumbing service providers typically add permit costs to their final bill.

Another added cost of sewer line replacement that you might not know about is essential landscaping restoration. After all, plumbing service providers don’t like (and may not be allowed to) leaving your yard partially excavated after installing a new sewer line.

7. Landscaping Restoration Is Often Part of the Service

When you agree to a sewer line replacement, there’s a good chance that you also agree to have part of your yard excavated. After all, sewer lines are located deep beneath the soil and tend to be relatively long, so there’s virtually no way to remove one without unearthing it.

But this excavation process can leave your yard in rough shape. You can expect large piles of dirt, dead grass, and destroyed landscaping. Fortunately, most sewer line service technicians won’t leave your home in this state.

After installing a new sewer line, most plumbing service providers will bury the new pipe beneath the same soil they dug up. They’ll also tamp the ground to ensure that it’s adequately compacted, preventing it from sinking when stepped on. 

Some providers will also apply fresh layers of sod to restore your lawn to its pre-replacement condition. However, this is generally where the landscaping restoration part of the job ends.

Consequently, you may need to hire a landscaper to work on your yard after a sewer line replacement. Depending on the area you’re looking to restore (and the types of services you need), you could end up spending about $10 per square foot on post-replacement landscaping services.

Final Thoughts

Sewer line replacement services typically cost several thousand dollars, making them one of the most expensive types of plumbing services. This high cost stems from several factors, including machinery, labor, and permit costs. 

The typical sewer line replacement includes extensive excavation, drywall removal, heavy lifting, and a team of well-trained technicians. In addition, the cost to restore excavated land to its previous condition may also be included in the service cost. 

Homeowners can potentially keep costs at a minimum by calling multiple sewer line service providers, requesting estimates, and comparing those estimates. 

Get The Best Sewer Line Replacement Quote

Contact Fischer Plumbing for a free, no-obligation estimate. For 40 Yrs, our team of licensed professionals is here for all your plumbing needs.

(206)-279-3322

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This can be anything from drain cleaning, toilets, or sink replacement to rootering drains and repairing sewer lines. When it comes to plumbing, we do it all, just call us at (206)-279-3322

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