For some homeowners, trenching may still be the best option. When Marietta, Georgia, member Karen Kaderlik's sewer line backed up, she and her husband were already planning myriad home improvement projects, including replacing the windows, siding and gutters, and their landscaping had been compromised by an ongoing drought.
Digging a trench didn't seem like a big deal, and Coolray Heating, Cooling & Plumbing was careful to preserve Kaderlik's prized azaleas and other landscaping.
"What I was impressed with was how they finished the job — it was compacted, raked," she says.
Coolray advised Kaderlik wait at least six months for the ground to settle before replanting the yard.
Your options may be limited by the condition of your pipes, their configuration, or where you live. In Chicago, for example, pipe lining is allowed, but pipe bursting is prohibited due to their close proximity to other utility lines, says Gary Litherland, a city spokesman.
Some contractors may only offer one or the other option, so shop around.
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Member Bayle Emlein of Oakland, California, knew she'd eventually have to replace the sewer connected to her 1916 bungalow after having to rout tree roots from her line multiple times.
"Rather than waiting for the next backup, I became proactive," says Emlein, who hired Toto's Plumbing in nearby Berkeley to replace her sewer using pipe bursting.
The $4,200 job, which involved digging up and replacing a small section of sidewalk, only took a day and a half and allowed her to preserve the flowers in her front yard.
"I've been here awhile and I'm attached to them," Emlein says.