Trenchless Sewer Repair 101

Trenchless sewer repair uses no-dig construction techniques to fix damaged sewer laterals and water pipes without destroying an entire yard. Pipe Spy has been using trenchless rehabilitation technology for sewer repair work since 1998 and was the first plumbing company to bring the sewer lateral technology to the Bay Area.


Since World Trenchless Day will be celebrated this month, it’s a perfect time to highlight everything you need to know about trenchless sewer repair. You can also learn more about #WTD toward the end of this article.

What is Trenchless Sewer Repair?

When a sewer lateral needed to be repaired or replaced, professionals were traditionally required to dig long trenches along the entire length of the pipe. This involved not only removing dirt but also any plant life, landscaping, hardscaping, driveways and anything else that might be in the way.

That changed with the popularization of trenchless construction technology. This “no-dig” process minimizes disruption using methods like pipe bursting, horizontal directional drilling, and other technologies that optimize our work in underground pipe replacement.

There are great benefits to be had by those who have access to trenchless digging professionals: By minimizing or avoiding excavation altogether, money is saved, time is saved, and ecological disturbances are limited. In other words: everyone wins!

How Does it Work?


While there are several trenchless methods and applications used across the nation, at Pipe Spy, we use a trenchless sewer repair technique known as Pipe Bursting or Stich Boring. This involves a pneumatic process, meaning that pressurized air helps the device bore along the old pipe. Small pits are used to access the existing pipe. As it goes along the pipe destroying the old pipe, the new pipe is pulled along and installed behind it as it goes. Read our free Pipe Bursting 101 guide to learn more. To view the process, visit our published video detailing each step.

We also occasionally hear from prospective customers interested in another popular trenchless sewer repair method known as Pipe Lining or Slip Lining, or cured-in-place pipe (CIPP). The main problem with this type of sewer pipe replacement is that it decreases the diameter in the pipe size and is not considered a structural repair. CIPP may even take multiple inches off the original lateral’s size, which can contribute to obstruction of flow later on. For this reason, this type of sewer repair rarely gets approved by the jurisdictions where we typically work, including the City of Oakland. Regardless of city approvals, we believe the Pipe Bursting technique is superior since it is longer lasting and often within the same price bracket as CIPP.

To learn more about our sewer repair services, including the difference between spot repairs and full replacements, explore our services or get in touch.

Is Trenchless Sewer Repair Environmentally Friendly?


In short: Yes!

Trenchless sewer replacement or repair is the most sustainable way to fix plumbing problems. Environmental disruption, waste and energy use is minimized through the use of this technology.

This is especially true if you work with a plumbing company that believes in being eco-friendly and environmentally responsibly.

Pipe Spy has Green Certification through the California Green Business Network. This certification is shared by other companies that truly value the environment (such as REI, Whole Foods, and Cliff Bar) and gives our customers peace of mind knowing that we uphold the values of resource conservation, pollution prevention, and more. 

How Much Does it Cost?

The price of trenchless sewer repair depends on factors such as length of pipe, how deep it’s buried, and how many holes need to be dug. The price can be roughly estimated between $4,500 to $12,000 or more, however, it’s important to request an estimate from your prospective sewer repair professional because of the many factors involved in pricing each job.

Another cost to consider is your inspection cost. The sewer camera inspection services at Pipe Spy typically cost $150, including set-up, inspection, and clean-up. This fee is also credited toward subsequent sewer lateral replacements. 

Many homeowners ask us about the possibility of using homeowner’s insurance to help cover the costs of sewer work. Unfortunately, it’s rare for insurance to cover these costs, but there are certain circumstances when you might get lucky. Read our blog post for more information: Does Home Insurance Cover Sewer Repair?


More About World Trenchless Day 2018


Pipe Spy is excited to join other contractors, engineering firms, public works and more in officially supporting World Trenchless Day 2018, which will be celebrated on September 27.

#WTD is an annual day of global celebration meant to raise awareness of the many benefits of trenchless technology, including enhancing the safety, economic, environmental and social factors that surround the sewer industry. Our team is planning a day of free demonstrations, swag and refreshments to help promote #WTD in our community. We hope to reach neighbors who have not yet realized the important impact trenchless technology has on the local economy and quality of life.

We hope you will join us! Please follow Pipe Spy on Facebook to learn more.