Excavation Services in St. Louis – Maplewood Plumbing
Digging up your yard and landscaping around your home probably isn’t on your short list of plans for your property. Unfortunately, it is one of those things that sometimes must be done. Usually, that’s when there is a major problem with your home’s building drain or exterior sewer line.
Most plumbing issues are minor: a clogged toilet or backed up drain pipe and can be solved by a drain cleaning service call if not a plunger or even a little homeowner DIY know-how.
There are several dig-free plumbing solutions that usually work, so if you’re not sure how severe the clog is or whether or not you need excavation to replace your building drain or to replace your building’s sewer, take a look at our pipelining page to learn more about non-invasive plumbing solutions, and contact a trusted, professional plumber. We can use a sewer camera to find out what the issue is and recommend the right solution. Sometimes, digging up the yard and landscaping is the only way to fix the problem for good.
When Your Drain Needs to Be Repaired or Replaced
The truth is that nothing lasts forever. And while drain pipes are sturdy and meant to last for decades, there will come a time when they must be repaired or replaced. Usually this is based on the material that the building drain or sewer is made from, the type of soil surrounding the pipe, the severity of the blockage in your pipe (drains), and other environmental factors.
Factor 1: Building Drain and Sewer Pipe Materials
Most residential building drains and sewer drains are made of either PVC (polyvinyl chloride, white plastic pipe), cast iron, or clay pipe. Materials like copper, galvanized steel, or ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, black plastic pipe), CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, another kind of white plastic pipe), or PEX (cross-linked Polyethylene, a plastic pipe that comes in many colors) can also be used for drainage but are less popular choices or have limitations in how they can be used.
Copper piping is popular for many reasons, namely for its durability, strength, and weight – it’s lighter and thinner than steel, which makes it easier to maintain. The cost of copper, however, can be prohibitive and issues tend to crop up around pipe fittings over time.
PVC piping was invented in the 1950s and has since become a top choice of homebuilders and professional plumbers for its durability and rust-proof surface. The one drawback with PVC drain pipes is that it can’t tolerate high temperatures. For this reason, PVC is usually only used for toilet and drain piping; it generally is not used for water supply lines.
CPVC is essentially PVC piping with a layer of chlorine so that it can run tap water. CPVC is easy for plumbersto maintain because any damaged sections can be easily removed and repaired with an adhesive. Environmentalists are not fans of CPVC, however, because it’s not a recyclable material and its production emits toxic chemicals. CPVC is generally only used in water supply construction.
Cast iron building drains and sewer pipes were most common in homes built before the 1960s. It was used for its strength and durability (its lifespan can reach up to 100 years), however it does eventually rust, causing those sections of pipe to corrode. Cast iron is a very common pipe in homes built in our area.
Clay building drains and sewer pipes were very common construction from the early 1900’s till the early 1970’s. Clay piping was largely used to build conduit for the early expansion of the telephone system. It was a durable material that wires could be routed through and protected. It was quickly adopted for use in municipal sewers, building sewers, and building drains. Clay is a very durable material, but it is not well sealed and is prone to root intrusion. It can break if large roots grow unchecked or if the ground experiences significant movement due to freeze and thaw cycles or even drought and rain cycles that cause the surrounding soil to move, contract, and expand over time.
Galvanized steel drain pipes were another option available to home builders around the 1950s. This material is nearly as strong as cast iron and has a lifespan of up to 50 years. Some of the challenges with using steel for sewer lines is their propensity to rust. When the zinc properties inside the pipes erode, these pipes tend to clog and cause water flow to weaken. They are also thicker than other materials, making them difficult for plumbers to repair.
ABS plastic piping was developed in the mid 1970s as a cost-efficient alternative to iron and steel. It was lauded for having a rust-proof surface but was later banned from use in new home construction for its lack of durability.
PEX drain pipes have become a popular material for water supply lines due to their heat tolerance and durability. Where PVC is used for only drain line usage, PEX pipes are only used for incoming water lines.
If your drain pipe material is too damaged, or the backup is too severe, your building drain or sewer line may not be able to support a trenchless repair, in which case your plumber will need to use drain excavation to replace your drain pipes.
Factor 2: Soil
The texture, type, and permeability of the soil around your home can impact the longevity of your drain pipes. Poor soil conditions can cause sewer and water lines under your home to shift, crack, and even collapse. Chances are you have no idea what the composition of soil on your property is, but you can find out with an easy DIY home soil kit. These can be found at most home improvement stores or gardening centers.
Factor 3: Drain Blockage
When you have a clogged drain, your plumber will look to see what material your drain pipes are made of to determine the best course of action. The tools and process they use will depend on whether your pipes are made of copper, steel, PVC, or PEX. Some pipe material can cause blocked drains, due to corrosion and/or rust. And regardless of what type of drain pipes your home has, if tree roots have broken through, you will likely need excavation to remove them.
Factor 4: Environment
The environment around your drain pipes plays a large role in the health of your drainage system. An excess of tree roots, for example, can make your drain lines more susceptible to infiltration and blockages.
Red Flags that May Signal a Need for Drain Excavation
Red Flag #1: You have multiple clogged drains in your home, or clogs reoccur soon after clearing them.
Red Flag #2: The drains in your home are moving more slowly than normal, and/or your toilets require multiple flushes to empty.
Red Flag #3: A gas odor emitting from your sinks or toilets or around the exterior of your home. This is a serious sign of a problem – don’t wait to contact a professional!
Red Flag #4: Changes in your lawn. When a sewer line on your property is leaking, it can often cause indentions or even sink holes near the sewer line. Conversely, waste can act as a fertilizer, making certain spots of your grass look lusher than the rest.
Noticing any or all these red flags isn’t an immediate call for drain excavation. There is still a chance that your plumber might be able to fix the problem with trenchless plumbing services. But if you do notice these signs, it’s time to contact a professional so that they can determine the best course of action.
What does Excavation look like?
Drain replacement and excavation is a three-step process.
Step One: Site Assessment
Your professional plumbing team will determine exactly where your sewer lines are located underground using a sewer camera that emits a signal (sonde) and a wand that receives and locates the signal. They will call the local utility marking authority and plan the dig so that no public utility lines are damaged. Private “utilities” like irrigation systems, invisible fences for dogs, and other similar buried items are generally not marked and otherwise locatable.
Step Two: Safety Measures
Plumbing excavation is a serious job that requires specific security measures to keep workers safe. Safe entrance and egress to the work site is controlled and maintained throughout the job. When depths necessitate shoring, shoring will be used. Other equipment may be necessary to monitor the air below grade to make sure it is safe to work in. Safety is critical to a job well done.
Step Three: Dig-out
Once the excavation plan is mapped out, and safety measures are in place, the workers will begin digging with excavation equipment and/or hand tools. Excavators are preferred by homeowners (and plumbers) because they typically can complete the job faster.
Maplewood Plumbing and Sewer now offers excavation services in St. Louis City and St. Louis County! Our new excavator makes quick work of the job, and our professional team will have your home back to working order quickly and efficiently.
Maplewood Plumbing and Sewer has been repairing sewer pipes in St. Louis homes and businesses for more than 35 years. Our family-owned plumbing company prides itself on our solid reputation in the community. Give us a call to schedule your camera inspection and see for yourself why our loyal customers won’t use anyone else!
We offer a one-year warranty on all parts and labor excluding washers.
Give us a call at 314-310-4245 or fill out the contact form here to request a bid.