When to Replace a Sewer Line

If persistent drain issues are occurring in your home, there may be a bigger sewer pipe problem hiding underground.

Sometimes it’s possible to fix a clog or other sewer line issue with simple drain cleaning and maintenance that the homeowner can have serviced, but there comes a point when these methods won’t solve the problem. At that point, sewer lines and sewer laterals will need to be repaired or replaced by professionals.

How can you tell it’s time to replace your home’s old sewer line or sewer lateral with a new pipe?

These are the “red flags” you, as a homeowner, should keep in mind when considering a sewer lateral replacement.

When to Replace a Sewer Line: Red Flags

Old age

Sewage pipes tend to fail more frequently in old age. If you’re not sure how old your pipes are, consider the age of your home. A house built 50+ years ago is more likely to need sewer line replacement.

Long-term problems

Similarly, if plumbing issues have been present for many months or years, there will often have been enough damage to require a sewer line replacement. On the flip side, if you have relatively young pipes and your issues have not been occurring for too long, it may be possible to simply unclog the pipe and then keep it healthy with regular maintenance.

Water fixture malfunction

If water is backing up in sinks or toilets, or there’s water pooling in your basement drains, this is often a sign of a main line clog. Take special notice if water from one fixture is backing up somewhere else (for instance, your sink or toilet water is backing up in your tub or shower) on the same floor level.

Persistent clogs

Overflowing toilets and clogged sink drains are almost always caused by blockages from common products like paper towels, toilet paper, or feminine hygiene products. But if clogs keep happening even though you haven’t been flushing the wrong things down the drain, this may be a sign of bigger problems in your sewer lines.

Big trees

Roots are a leading cause of pipe damage. If there are big, old trees on your property—or even just next to your property—there may be huge root systems encroaching on your sewage system. Like an iceberg, a trees’ roots can often extend far beyond the reach of the branches visible aboveground.

Strange sounds

When your plumbing is engaged, do you ever hear bubbly, gurgling sounds similar to what you hear when a drip coffee pot runs out of water or see air bubbles in the toilet bowl during a flush? This is a warning of a clog in your sewer lines.

What Do You Need to Do Before Replacing Sewer Lines?

If you’re seeing any of the red flags above, we highly recommend using a sewer camera inspection service in order to confirm what’s really going on in your sewer lateral.

Professionals are best able to diagnose your pipe’s problem when they can actually see what’s going on using a sewer inspection camera. A sewer camera inspection reveals the true conditions of the pipe and identifies the location of failures, allowing your replacement team to fix your drain issues more efficiently.

This saves everyone time and money – and our team at Pipe Spy will even credit the cost of your sewer camera inspection toward a sewer lateral replacement.

What Are Your Sewer Line Replacement Options?


If a sewer camera inspection has confirmed the need for sewer line replacement, then it’s time to look at your options.

Traditionally, replacing a sewer line meant spending a fortune to carve a trench across the entire property. This method involved tearing up the entire yard in order to find and take out the old pipe before installing the new one.

Fortunately, there is now a drain pipe replacement option that doesn’t create a huge eyesore on your property. Trenchless sewer replacement allows professionals to safely replace a sewer line without tearing up a yard. This method is now widely used in place of traditional sewer line replacement because it solves the problem with minimal surface disturbance by digging strategic access points instead of digging up the whole length of the pipe.

Next Steps

It’s never a good feeling to realize there are big issues with your sewer lines. Luckily, the latest technology allows sewer inspection companies like Pipe Spy to diagnose, locate, and fix sewer pipe issues more efficiently than ever before. If you need help with your drain pipe problems, contact our qualified professionals for more information.