Jerry Wayne Odom Jr.

Sewer Main Line Replacement

I did it myself sewer line repair in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

When To Do Your Own Plumbing

It's one of the last things you want to see as a homeowner. You flush the toilet before you leave for work and everything comes back up. You have the plumber come out and clean your line only to have water come out of the base of the toilet a week later from the washing machine. Your sewer main line has been invaded by roots, cracked or whatever and now you have to do something about it.

Sewer Main Repair Costs

The thought to repair my house's sewer main line myself came when I asked the Baton Rouge area Rotorooter to estimate the cost of repairing the main line. Minimum cost was $2500 to come out and replace it. Now I know for a fact I saw my father perform this unpleasent operation using $80 in 4" PVC pipe, a trencher and a case of beer back when I was a kid. Time to call up my dad and see if we can't do it ourself. We knew where the sewer pipe came out in the back of the house.

Equipment Needed To Change A Sewer Main

First off you need to call the department of public works to survey your property and mark off the major utility lines. Damaging these incurs a fine. Second you likely need some sort of digging equipment such as a trencher or in our case a small excavator. You'll also need replacement 4" PVC pipe or a better version of whatever was used, a hacksaw, pipe glue and perhaps some clamps. You might also grab a Y fitting to install a clean out if you don't have one.(I didn't have one) A couple of sharpshooter shovels come in handy. Also a good number for people to work in this little project would be 3.
Depth Of Sewer Pipe

The pipe has to be angled at a grade downward from your home to the city sewer. So typically you'll find it less than 2 feet deep next to your home. In our case it was a challenge to find the sewer pipe because next to the home it was about 3 feet deep while angling down to 5 feet deep at the city sewer line. Most of the line damage was as we got deeper in digging. The old schedule 20 pvc pipe had gotten so brittle and thin than you could break it with your hands easily. There were many root intrusions on the side of the pipes. A consequence of living in Shenandoah neighborhood in Baton Rouge which has tons of trees. It was suprising how many roots the excavator pulled up. Quite a job as you can see from the pictures of our work.

Laying the new main line

Make sure your angle is appropriately going down in all places. Follow the old path if possible and use a level to make sure you don't curve it up too much. We poured sand in to ease under the pipe and support it. Luckily we already had lots of bags of sand from sandbagging due to hurricane Gustav.

Cover it up and flush with confidence for years to come. Congratulations. For the cost of renting equipment, buying the parts and feeding your friends you have just cut your $2500+ cost down to about $350 for a days hard work.