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Sewer lateral lining

Nothing is worse than an inspection gone afoul. Much less a sewer inspection since replacement costs are so high. But that’s just what I faced last month during the inspection of my recently closed rehab in Tower Grove South. Turns out there were some issues with the sewer lateral we didn’t know about and the buyers would not go ahead with the sale unless they were fixed. The initial estimates for the pipe replacement had me considering walking away, but when I met up with a pipe lining specialist I changed my mind.

At this point you are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about. For those unaware, this method of sewer repair relies on cleaning out the existing pipe and lining it with a special polymer to restore the integrity. Some companies refer to this as the trenchless method. You don’t really hear much about this kind of thing much in St. Louis, but when I started to research the topic I found that we are just late to the trend. It turns out that this technique has been popular for years in Europe and in some areas along the east and west coasts of the United States. Its just know gaining attention here.


So whats so special about this stuff? Consider the following:

  • COST – For most applications this method can offer pretty significant savings over traditional methods. Estimates to repair the damaged 5 foot long section at my project were floating around $2500 to dig up and replace the pipe. The costs were so high because the damaged section was just outside the foundation underneath a deck. It reach the pipe the deck would have to be disassembled and everything dug out by hand. With the lining method the cost was only $1,125.
  • PROPERTY DAMAGE – Not only does the labor involved in traditional methods typically cost more, it also has a tendency of doing a lot of damage to your property. Decks, sidewalks, fences, foundations and especially landscaping often have to undergo significant repair work after digging around them. Since places that need sewer work are typically historic in natures, this damage is a major concern.

Its really a fascinating process too. I wish I had my camera with me while the were doing it, but I will have to settle for describting the process. They started out by cleaning out and prepping the damaged section of pipe with various tools. Once they had the exact dimensions of the area to be repairs they cut a piece of a special tube of epoxy. They chemically treated this tube then managed to get it in place through some miraculous means. Once in place they inflated the tube inside the pipe. The inflated tube was then sprayed with really hot water to start a chemical reaction and then cured for a little over an hour. And that was it.

I really couldn’t believe it work so well, but the pipe is now repaired for less that half the cost and with the same durability as traditional methods. Makes me wish I had heard of this thing years ago. If you are interested in the process yourself, I know there are a few guys in town who do this, but I used Pipe Lining Plus and was quite happy. I actually pulled the diagram above from their site. For more info you can call them at 314-576-6344 or visit their website.This technique has its limiations and may not be right for your situation, but its worth looking into.

If you have any experience with pipe lining yourself please share a few thoughts on your experience.


Matt Kastner

Matt Kastner is an Investment Real Estate Consultant at St. Louis Real Estate Society in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also develops properties on the side through Threshold Properties. When he isn't representing investors in the purchase or sale of multifamily properties, rehabs, foreclosures and other income producing properties, he is often taking on rehab projects himself. He lives in South St. Louis and has been in the real estate business since 2004.

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6 thoughts on “Sewer lateral lining”

  • Karen Goodman

    December 2, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks for the great info. I always do sewer inspections for older homes when I am representing buyers. At times, we have found problems that resulted over $5000 in repair work and has delayed closing.

    On thing to note is that in many areas of the St. Louis region there are lateral insurance programs that will pay 80-100% of the repair work that is located between the house (or clean out or sidewalk) and the main MSD line. It would be worth checking on the insurance before scheduling any work, since the insurance program may want replacement instead of lining. And if they are paying for it, I’d let them do whatever they wanted.

  • scotthadfield

    December 3, 2008 at 9:09 am

    I’ve heard about this but didn’t realize we had contractors doing it in St. Louis. Great blog, thanks for writing about it.

  • Matt Kastner

    December 3, 2008 at 10:12 am

    The costs of replacing sewer lines can really get high quick. I have heard of prices as high as $10,000 due to the fact the line was so deep in a particular yard and it had to be dug out by hand. I can’t imagine how long that would take even with a big crew.

    As for insurance programs, I have never heard of that. Something to look into for sure. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Kevin C

    April 8, 2009 at 11:15 am

    As for the lateral insurance, when I used it in ’03 it only covered the area outside of your property line to the sewer main (which in my case wasn’t very far). I had to separately contract and pay for the portion of the collapsed line on my property. Only bonus was that the MSD sewer lateral guy told me who would do decent work at the best price (a Bosnian crew which I believe is unfortunately no longer in business).
    As for the lining, it looks like a great idea for laterals under your garage or other obstructions. However, I don’t think they can do it if there’s a broken section of the lateral that is offset.

  • Sewer Cleaner

    May 13, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Sewer Maintenance may be something you need, but if your home is in a part of the country where the weather is bad for half of the year, there may not be much you can do about it until spring arrives.

  • Kyle

    June 2, 2014 at 8:59 am

    We had our under-slab sewer pipe lined by Jim Kohlschreiber with Pipe Linings Plus. This saved us from having to demo a finished portion of our basement and trenching out new landscaping from the front lawn against the house. We were very pleased and appreciate Jim’s hard work and honest pricing. It cost around $4500, which was way less than replacing the pipe with new and all the additional cost of replacing the basement finishes and landscaping.


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