Your sewer lines stay out of sight and out of mind, and that's how most homeowners like them. Of course, burying sewer pipes also comes with a few drawbacks. Since you can't see your sewer lines, you can't tell if something is wrong until you start experiencing some pretty nasty problems in your home. Locating and accessing the damaged pipe can also be a challenging and expensive task.
Unfortunately, repairing a sewer can be even more of a headache when the problem originates under your home. Digging a trench for a sewer line under your lawn is disruptive and may require substantial landscaping, but accessing the area under your foundation brings many more unique challenges. If you're facing a sewer repair under a concrete slab, this guide will help prepare you for the job ahead.
Determining the Location and Extent of the Issue
Before your plumber can develop a plan of action for your sewer repair, they need to determine as much about your issue as possible. For example, the most cost-effective access methods will vary depending on whether you have a small leak or a significant problem, such as a rotting or incorrectly sloped pipe.
Plumbers typically use multiple methods and tools to assess the condition of your home's sewer pipes. Inspection cameras are one commonly used option that will allow plumbers to see the problem and locate its precise position under your house. Sewer water tests are another way plumbers can spot leaks or obstructions in your sewer line.
Creating An Access Plan
If your plumber determines that trenchless methods such as a pipe bursting or lining can't solve your problem, the next step is to create an access plan. If the plumber only needs access to a limited area, they may want to dig through the concrete slab using a jackhammer. For more extensive repairs, it's usually necessary to bring in dedicated diggers to create access tunnels under the slab.
In many cases, accessing the sewer pipe is one of the costliest and most time-consuming parts of a sewer repair job. Under-slab tunneling is usually the least disruptive option, although it may be expensive if your problem requires a large tunnel for access. On the other hand, digging into your foundation can be less costly but more disruptive and messy.
Repairing the Problem
Although plumbers will use every method available to learn about your leak before they start digging, there's no substitute for seeing the problem firsthand. Once your plumbers have access to the affected area, they can determine precisely what will be necessary to restore your sewer pipe and get waste flowing freely from your home again.