Pittsburgh Sewer Repairs: 101 for Dummies

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If you take the time to do the research and look back at ancient history, it’s plainly evident that it’s the advent of sewers that was one of the most essential vital developments to elevate society.

The ancient Romans used their streets as open sewers, and look what happened to them.

But using France as an example, there are still working sewer lines that were installed hundreds of years ago. Now granted, ancient Rome fell several hundred years earlier.

But it wasn’t until people figured out that sewage should be run in sewer lines underground rather than flowing through the streets before anything substantial was going to happen in terms of progress.

Pittsburgh is an older city too. But not so old that it had to go through the sewage flowing in the streets growth pains. It pretty much always had a sewer system.

But even so, because this is an older city, that means older homes and buildings, which in turn means Pittsburgh sewer line repairs are common due to age-related leaks and damage.

Sewer lines have a reputation for being no fun to deal with, so it’s not hard to understand why so many people are at a loss when they need to call on Pittsburgh plumbers to do their dirty work.

Pittsburgh Sewer Line Repairs Are No Different Than Anywhere Else

There are certain problems that call for prompt resolution in life. Things that you just can’t put off, and with rare exceptions, sewer line repairs in Pittsburgh are one of them.

Whether it’s a water pipe, a gas line, or a sewer line, once it is breached and begins to leak, it will not fix itself over time. It’s only going to get worse gradually.

Raw human sewage holds a special place on the list of things to avoid. It’s filthy, nasty germ-ridden crud, and any Pittsburgh Plumber will tell you that it’s no glamour job repairing damaged or clogged sewer lines.

So in this sense, sewer line repairs in Pittsburgh are no different than anywhere else.

Sewer problems come in various types, though, with one of the most common being clogs. A building that a sewer line is connected up to, whether it’s a residence or some type of commercial entity, has a lot to do with what is causing the sewer pipe clog.

For example, one of the more common causes of residential sewer pipe clogs in Pittsburgh is children flushing things like toys that shouldn’t be sent down a toilet.

Then in places like bars and restaurants, items like women’s tampons have a well-earned reputation for clustering up to form a stubborn clog in sewer lines. Tree roots that have found their way into sewer lines are yet another common source of clogged sewer pipes in homes.

Pittsburgh Sewer Line Inspection Has Gone High-Tech

Like almost anything else on a building, sewer lines have a service lifespan. Some are longer than others, and that, for the most part, has to do with the type of materials that the pipes that were used were made of.

Cast iron and steel sewer lines have the shortest service life.

This is because they’re susceptible to rust. PVC sewer pipes have the longest.

PVC sewer lines can last indefinitely because they’re made of a high-grade plastic called polyvinyl chloride. One thing they aren’t immune to, though, is ground settling. Ground settling occurs when loose backfill is compacted, resulting in a dip in the sewer drain line.

It’s this dip where debris can gather to settle in and form clogs. An inadequate slope in the sewer line can also cause it to back up. So in the city of Pittsburgh sewer line inspection deep inside a pipe is a solution. Plumbers in Pittsburgh use a compact, high-tech camera on the end of a cable to traverse the length of a sewer line to send back images in real-time.

For larger pipes, there are even remote control devices that crawl down inside to do the same. That is to send back the video. So Pittsburgh sewer line inspection really has gone high-tech, if it needs to be. That is because there always is the low-tech option that a home or business owner can do themselves, even if it may not be as thorough.

That low-tech option is to walk the property to look for things like settling areas in the foundation and damp ground with the distinctive smell of raw sewage.

What’s Next When Sewer Line Damage is Discovered?

In Pittsburgh sewer line damage is dealt with the same as anywhere else. There are two types of sewer line damage, though. The first type is sewer line damage in Pittsburgh that you can put off repairing.

That would be a damaged sewer line carrying gray water away from a kitchen sink that might have a slight leak dripping water underneath the subfloor of a home.

That’s not a major deal. A major problem is sewer line damage to a pipe that’s carrying raw sewage away from bathroom toilets. That’s a different story all together.

It’s not hard to imagine that something like that dribbling underneath a home would call for immediate attention from plumbers in Pittsburgh. Something else worth noting here is the role that sewer line damage in Pittsburgh can play in developing a toxic mold issue in a home or commercial building.

It doesn’t take much water to foster a black mold bloom. Just a little will do, and if the leak is behind a wall or underneath the home, by the time it’s found, the problem can be severe.

Another thing worth mentioning is that there are other more toxic types of yellow, orange, and red mold. These colored molds thrive on water tainted by mouse and rat excrement and raw sewage.

So pretty much goes without saying that if sewer line damage is discovered that’s leaking raw sewage inside a home or business, it must be dealt with promptly.

The Basics of Sewer Line Replacement

Size really does matter when it comes to sewer line replacement in Pittsburgh. The bigger and longer a sewer line is, the more expensive it’s going to be to replace it.

Another thing to factor in is how deep it is and if there’s any kind of pumping station that needs to be replaced. Small pumping stations are installed when a trunk line is lower than the main line.

Water does not flow uphill, and all homes and businesses are in a position such that the sewage that they produce will flow without assistance down to the primary connection and then on its way.

Sometimes it needs a boost up. The hardness of ground and abstractions like patios, sidewalks and driveways, and even trees that are in the way and have to be also removed factor into sewer line replacement costs in Pittsburgh.

It’s certainly no glamour job, so anything else that makes it more difficult or works to extend out the completion date will reflect on cost. So after any obstructions have been cleared, the first step is the dig down to the old sewer line.

Step two is to remove it. Then step three is to use gravel to create a bed or base with an established fall for the new pipe to lay on. Fall is industry vernacular for the slope that all drain lines must have, so everything flows out.

Compacting and then adding gravel to the bottom of the ditch works to prevent settling that leads to dips in a sewer line. Then, after all the preparation work is completed, the new sewer line is installed and connected up.

Something else worth noting here is the more that is known regarding what the plumbers in Pittsburgh are going to encounter, the easier it is for them to calculate an accurate bid.

What this means is that the possibility of unwanted surprises brings the specter of risk, and plumbers in Pittsburgh don’t like risk. Any element of risk regarding the amount of work that’s going to go into a job will work to drive up a bid.

Sewer Line Replacement VS Sewer Line Repair

Just like an old damaged vehicle, there is always the choice between replacement and repair. Is it worth repairing? Will I be getting some more miles out of it? Or will it just be a case of throwing good money after bad while trying to keep an old dying horse alive?

Knowing the difference between the two is crucial when making the comparison between sewer line replacement and sewer line repair in Pittsburgh.

It’s hard to conceive of a situation where the option to repair would be more expensive than completely replacing a sewer line, but I suppose it can happen. That for sure would make the decision a whole lot easier.

But in the real world, it rarely turns out that way.

Things like a pending sale can make the decision easier. When the cost of complete replacement can be recouped easier than convincing a potential buyer to pay the same amount for a home or building with a sewer line that’s been repaired.

Then something else to consider is what’s on top of the ground. Keep it in mind that sewer line replacement in Pittsburgh more often than not involves something in the way that has to be removed.

If it’s Perhaps some shrubbery, that’s one thing. But what about the cost of tearing out and replacing the driveway or a patio? Keep in mind that it’s not only the cost of a new driveway that has to be considered.

There’s also the cost of breaking a perfectly good driveway out and then paying to haul it away, plus the dump fees to dispose of it.

In recent years the trenches option has come available. Trenchless sewer repair in Pittsburgh means that no trench has to be excavated to repair sewer lines, so that’s something to look into.

What is Trenchless Sewer Line Repair?

Trenchless sewer line repair in Pittsburgh is just what it sounds like. No trench needs to be excavated. Instead, an access hole is created at each and of the damaged sewer line. Then there are two options when it comes to linings inserted into the pipe.

The first option is a flexible multilayer rubber pipe that might be described better as a large-diameter hose that is pulled down the entire length of the sewer line.

When trenchless sewer line repair in Pittsburgh is completed using this method, the old damaged sewer line, that’s most often iron, will function as an outer liner of sorts. It does this as the new rubber insert assumes the role of a new sewer pipe.

Then the second style of trenchless sewer repair in Pittsburgh involves a plastic sleeve of sorts that, if anything, resembles deflated fire hose that you might have already seen.

Because it’s loose and flexible, it’s pulled through the damaged sewer line more freely, so in the case of severely damaged sewer lines, this is often the optimal choice. It’s less likely to snag.

Prior to pulling it through the pipe, this limp plastic hose is first treated with a plastic polymer resin on the inside. Then after the insertion is complete, compressed air is used to inflate it, in the same way, is a long tubular balloon would be inflated.

After it’s inflated, it’s the air pressure that holds this new insert in place, up against the interior walls of the damaged pipe, so the polymer resin can set up, making the new sleeve a rigid inner lining.

So the same goal is achieved with both options. That is a replacement sewer line positioned inside the old damaged line without having to excavate a trench. Trenchless sewer line repair in Pittsburgh also works on smaller water drainage lines inside buildings to eliminate the need for demolition work to access damaged pipes.