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Replacing A Sewer Line
updated: Apr 02, 2014, 3:00 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

We need to replace the cast iron main sewer line that runs underneath our 1960s house. Anyone have any tips on materials, methods, or plumbers that do this in SB? There is a crawl space.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 508027 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 03:09 PM

We had to do the same. The only way is to do business with someone who threads a seamless/trenchless pipe through to the end point. FANTASTIC!!!!!!!


 COMMENT 508042 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 03:36 PM

We had to do it too. Get ready for a BIG bill. The redeeming part is the plumber will likely guarantee the line for life so you are good to go and can flush freely with reckless abandon.


 COMMENT 508047P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 03:48 PM

This is going to be a useful referral!
Posters, do you have any business names?


 COMMENT 508049 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 03:55 PM

Absolutely agree with 027


 COMMENT 508050 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 03:57 PM

This is a very simple job for any do it selfer or plumber. Cast iron pipe gets removed and ABS pipe replaces it.


 COMMENT 508051P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 03:58 PM

I did Google "santa barbara trenchless plumbing"
Recommendations and experiences would be appreciated. There is "affordable plumbing" and "plumbers" listed under "Referals" "Home".

Nothing found under "trenchless" search on Edhat.



 COMMENT 508054 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:01 PM

We were happy with Drain Masters for our sewer line replacement. Long time local family run operation, experienced and just nice people. Job was done quick, guaranteed for life. Trenchless.


 COMMENT 508061 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:14 PM

Why do you need trench less? I thought you said it was a raised foundation?


 COMMENT 508062 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:20 PM

We got ripped off by Mr. Rooter. After paying them $8,000 and the problem resurfaced in less than six months, we learned of Chris Dorn of Drainmasters. He's reputable and reasonable. We highly recommend him.


 COMMENT 508063 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:25 PM

A few years ago I had Stewart's Plumbing do this at my home in SB; loved working with them and not a problem since. I recommend contacting them for an estimate!


 COMMENT 508066P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:29 PM

Oh boy...do I have a recommendation! Ordinarily, I think that "you get what you pay for", but that wasn't the case when we had our trenchless drain installed. Sergio with Low Cost Plumbing is the way to go. His number is (805) 335-8413. I could give a long, sad, EXPENSIVE story about another group, but will spare the details. Sergio and his group did an EXCELLENT job and was 1/3 what another group had bid.


 COMMENT 508074 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:39 PM

I second Low Cost Plumbing. They replaced our main line for a very reasonable rate.


 COMMENT 508075 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:40 PM

why are you replacing the cast iron? Is your water flow being restricted, or are you thinking health reasons, or?

I'm guessing you want it trenchless because you don't want to tear up your yard (or dig a trench!).


 COMMENT 508076 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:42 PM

We always call Mel Sartain, Sartain Plumbing. Fast, friendly, reasonable rates. Good work, good guy.


 COMMENT 508077 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:48 PM

I'll second Low Cost Plumbing.


 COMMENT 508079 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:51 PM

I can tell you whom NOT to hire, or for that matter, even give you a bid;

ANY nationwide plumbing company franchisee and/or representative such as Mr. Rooter or Roto Rooter Etc... Guess who pays for the full page color ads you see in the Yellow Pages, newspapers and their fancy new vans & trucks with the flashy graphics etc....?
These outfits get their "foot in the door" and have a formula to slowly extract exorbitant prices for what starts out as a straight forward job.
Go with a local, licensed and low overhead plumber.


 COMMENT 508080 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 04:52 PM

I had mine done a few years ago by Crazy Larry. He replaced the old line with polyethylene with only one joint where the line from the house makes a 45 degree turn to the street connection. No joints otherwise except at the house and the sewer main. Polyethylene is flexible and won't crack in an earthquake or from adobe soil movement. About $6K as I recall.


 COMMENT 508083 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 05:01 PM

Yeah, win the lottery first.


 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 05:17 PM

Also recommend Sergio at Low Cost Plumbing.


 COMMENT 508090 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 05:42 PM

027 here, Crazy Larry did it...actually the fellow who purchased that company. So professional, clean and EXCELLENT!


 COMMENT 508104 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 07:26 PM

Don't use the toilet when they are working out there. For the day, day and a half they have dismantled your sewer line they will turn off your water so it's best you make friends with your neighbors or stay at a friend's house until the work is done.

Yes, it won't be cheap. Either you have to pay someone to dig a trench to access the existing pipe to cut it out and replace it or you pay for the rental of an expensive piece of machinery that will break up the existing pipe and pull 12' long sections of PVC pipe to put in its place. Either way it won't be cheap. I put it on my credit card and it took me a year to pay it off and I've had no problems with that line since so it was worth it.


 COMMENT 508106 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 07:36 PM

Be sure you really need ALL the work they're suggesting !


 COMMENT 508107 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 07:53 PM

Serendipity. Sergio and his crew were here today replacing the line between the sidewalk and the street. We had the part under the house done several years ago, (by someone else) but didn't want the expense of doing the whole thing at once. Now we needed the rest done.
Sergio was our realtor's recommendation, and she also suggested that we get a video of the scoping they did for the inspection. I have to say it was pretty interesting to see how many roots had made their way into the pipe. You can see how dire your circumstance is!
Just that section was $4500, so not exactly cheap.


 COMMENT 508109 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 08:23 PM

if there is a crawl space to work in its a easy job, don't need to do trenchless piping, low cost plumbing get a second bid to be sure,


 MISTA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-02 10:02 PM

FYI.... You CANNOT do it yourself...The City of SB requires that to pull a permit for the work, you have to be licensed...
Not anyone is allowed to open up a street/ paving
It's just too bad the City isn't offering partial REBATES like they used to. Shouldn't the MILLIONS in the coffers of the CREEKS DIVISION be opened up to homeowners who are (potentially) polluting with raw sewage...??????????
It is, after all, the City PLANTED TREES that are causing 90% of the sewer line intrusions due to CITYY TREE ROOTS!


 COMMENT 508125P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 06:53 AM

Another satisfied customer of Sergio's Low Cost Plumbing. You get great service and good prices.


 COMMENT 508132 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 07:17 AM

My advice is to get the plumber to tell you where you need to dig to get access to the line near the street, and then hire guys from the day line to do that digging. It gets expensive if you pay 3 plumbers to dig for a couple of days at $75/hr each.

My neighbor hired a plumber and they dug up his whole yard. It ended up being about $19,000 he said. Complete fraud by the plumbing crew.


 COMMENT 508139 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 07:32 AM

Another vote for Sergio and Low Cost Plumbing!


 COMMENT 508151 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 08:25 AM

As a builder and remodeler I have worked with all the above mentioned plumbers and more. Sergio at Low Cost Plumbing has done a few trenchless jobs for me with excellent results. Crazy Larry was great to work with and the company still has a good reputation. Note: City of SB had money set aside to reimburse homeowners who had to replace their"laterals", which are the connections to the sewer main. Ask Sergio about this.. he is an authorized installer and knows the right paperwork to provide for the rebate... that is, if there is any funding left in the program. He may need to video the line first, which is no big deal.
Enjoy your project, and work with people that you trust.


 COMMENT 508161P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 08:43 AM

Sergio and Chris Dorn are excellent, nevertheless the bill is going to knock your socks off. Our out-of-state friends were shocked at the amount.


 COMMENT 508169 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 08:54 AM

Two different issues presented here- 1. replacing the buried lateral that connects your house's plumbing to the city sewer line at the street, and 2. replacing the iron waste pipes beneath and within your house. Our lateral was replaced professionally before we moved in (it is buried up to 4' deep by the time it hits the street junction) but the cast iron pipes under and within our 75 yr old house were not. We used a sawz-all, cut off the occluded pipes and replaced with ABS. Very gratifying and a proper fix. Can be tricky getting all the joints glued to the proper angles during assembly while under the house, but now all of our sinks drain perfectly.


 COMMENT 508177 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 09:08 AM

169 is onto something important. Replacing the lines under the building can be a very reasonable DIY project if the crawl space is adequate to squat in without being all bent over, its dry and well ventilated, and the pipes are not too deep beneath the soil surface under the house (depending on the depth of your lateral, they could be quite deep or on top of the surface of the soil or anywhere in between. Permits are supposed to be pulled and the city per state law MUST issue permits to a homeowner/contractor for any job with a few exceptions like asbestos abatement (there were asbestos concrete pipes made and installed in the 60's but they were common for combustions vents and very rare for residential sewers). I would hire one of the recommended contractors to do trenchless from the building to the street unless you are ready to deal with digging your own trench and all that goes with it.


 COMMENT 508187 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 09:24 AM

If you are on a slab foundation, you will have to go trenchless from the beginning of the main line to the street connection, right? Otherwise how do you retrofit the portion underneath the slab?


 COMMENT 508196 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 09:51 AM

I am anticipating this nightmare right now, and my plumber who did inside the house work said Sergio and Low Cost. It will NOT be low cost. But to my horror I have found, when we used a video cam to look at it last month, that the plumber I PAID to do the full replacement when I bought my house ACTUALLY did about half of what he said. He's out of business now, and I feel pretty darn stupid for having trusted him to have done it right......... you can clearly see on the video cam where the tree roots are taking apart the old 1948 pipe as it nears the street. So, now I am saving up money to pay the estimated $5,000 bill to do a trenchless replacement from the house to the city main. The joys of home ownership.


 COMMENT 508208 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 10:31 AM

Tis true, you can do the digging yourself but you run the risk of severing utilities. You wouldn't work on your own teeth would you? You can't do trenchless under the house, too many turns.
I'd like to suggest the guys at Channel Plumbing, 685-4044. Once the permit is cleared, it can be done in one day, bam! You get what you pay for here, and Channel Plumbing is an honest, licensed local company.


 COMMENT 508214 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 10:39 AM

BE AWARE of another cost in replacing the sewer line! The City will MAKE you pay for a new "Y" piece that connects your sewer line to their main sewer line. Cost is $1250 PLUS Permits to open the street (which the plumber has to pay). I just had to replace my main sewer line for a 1904 house---around 100 feet. The trenchless piece (apprx 75 ft) cost me $8500 and the ABS piece cost me $12,000. This job is not for the DIYer---get a professional!
Low Cost did my trenchless job and was good--but SLOW to respond. Service Now did the rest of the job--except I used my gardner to dig up the patio and then replace it.


 COMMENT 508231P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 11:02 AM

Wow! Thanks for all the responses.

We'll get some bids from some of the plumbers mentioned here. The cast iron is 50+ years-old and things keep backing up. Our lateral was redone, so we've narrowed--- no pun intended--- our problem to the main that runs in the crawl space under the house.


 ELSPETH agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 11:55 AM

Be aware that the video which shows you the roots in your pipe line is just a video ... not necessarily the video of your pipes. About 20 years ago, we had a plumber who had done some small jobs for us satisfactorily, to clean out the line to the street. He showed us a pipe full of roots, so bad that I wonder any water got through. He said it would be trenchless and it would cost $5,000!
We got another opinion from R.J. Carroll. They showed us their video and there was nothing much in the pipe at all. They washed it out for a minimal fee and, we've never had a problem since.
Beware of FALSE VIDEOS ...


 COMMENT 508263 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-04-03 12:31 PM

This may also be a good time to replace the water and gas lines from the street to your house if you end up having a trench dug.


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