There is no golden rule for municipal sewer pipe lining repair. Prices change on a case-by-case basis, as do the techniques used to repair pipe lines in the first place. For municipal sewer damage, lines can be repaired by either trenching (excavating the damaged line and installing a replacement) or pipe lining (using epoxy materials to cure new sewer lines within existing pipe); the most affordable option will depend on sewer age, location and the extent of damage.
While home sewer main repairs will typically cost between $1,000 and $5,000, a single municipal sewer repair project can end up costing many times these figures, based on pipe length and damage.
Cities with outdated sewer systems - those that warrant an entire system update - can be faced with hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more, in total repair costs. Unfortunately for cities in these circumstances, replacement isn’t an option, it’s a requirement; otherwise further sewer damage and expensive upkeep are sure to follow. Replacing an entire municipal sewer system on the verge of collapse could cost well beyond $2 billion with traditional trenching methods.
An Alternative to Sewer Line Trenching
As many sewer lines run beneath sidewalks, streets and buildings, excavating a damaged line can be extremely costly, and sometimes even impossible. This is trenchless pipe lining’s strong suit: restoring sewer pipe lines that cannot be affordably dug out and manually replaced.
A typical municipal sewer lining project will cost several thousand dollars per line, resulting in several hundred thousand dollars for total projects (a Sacramento sewer lining project we completed in 2014 cost roughly $600,000 total). While at no small cost, these types of lining projects are much more affordable than the alternative. The technologies used in lining cost more upfront than those used in trenching, but the landscaping, down-time and labor associated with traditional replacement are entirely avoided.
Lining Techniques for Municipal Sewer Pipes
The standard sewer pipe lining technique is known as manhole-to-manhole lining, which works very much like it sounds. Using existing manhole entry points, trenchless lining experts can reline damaged sewer lines from within; no digging means no landscaping and restoration costs. With manhole-to-manhole sewer lining, large-scale projects that would otherwise cost a city millions of dollars can be done for thousands.
Lining of a single sewer line is typically completed in a single day, over the course of several hours as the epoxy resin liner materials cure in-place (hence the industry term, “cured-in-place pipe,” or CIPP). This cuts overall project time and cost in one fell swoop, and helps municipal decision-makers avoid road closures entirely during renovations.
Unless the damaged lines in question are collapsed, trenchless lining can restore pipes affected by almost any kind of damage. This includes common problems like leaking joints, intrusion and cracked pipe, as well as more severe issues, such as clogging caused by health products, “flushable wipes” and paper products.
Generally, the biggest savings of trenchless manhole-to-manhole lining isn’t in the technology itself, but in the process complications it helps municipalities avoid; complications common in dig-and-replace sewer renovations. Once lined, new sewer walls will retain their structural integrity for well over 50 years of standard use. Cured-in-place sewer lines perform just as well as concrete sewer lines, and in many cases are much more durable; with no joints or connections (curing results with a single-bodied pipe segment), CIPP pipe lines overcome the weaknesses of many standard sewer pipe materials.
In all, if there are surface-level obstructions that would make manual excavation complicated and out of budget, trenchless pipe lining could end up saving you thousands on total repair costs. As costs fluctuate between projects, a sewer pipe inspection prior to renovations could help you determine the most effective and affordable technique available.