Outdoor plumbing repair companies specialize in plumbing problems that originate outside, generally inside an underground sewer pipe. A problem may manifest indoors as a clogged sink or shower drain or as a toilet that won’t flush, but the issue actually stems from leaking, cracked or clogged pipes leading to or from the main sewer line. The national average cost of outdoor plumbing repairs is $65 to $215. But big problems can be a lot more expensive depending on the specifics of the job. For example, the cost to replace a sewer line from the water meter to the house can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000. Repairing or replacing lines from the house to the street can run $4,000 to $14,000.
Most plumbing service companies that repair problems with outdoor plumbing can help with indoor issues too. If the location of a leak is outside, though, it’s smart to hire a plumber with experience working on sewer systems. These pros will have the right equipment for assessing the nature of the problem with a pipe camera and, if necessary, the equipment and manpower needed to dig a trench to access and repair underground pipes.
The deeper, longer and wider that a trench must be to access the faulty pipe, the more expensive a repair is likely to be. Do Right Rooter & Plumbing Experts owner John Cooper says sewer replacements that require digging three feet to lay new pipe start at $1,850. A job where they have to dig four feet or deeper might cost $2,800–$3,200 because the city of Chicago requires plumbers to shore up trenches that deep.
Joe Clark of Pierce County Plumbing creates custom project estimates for all his customers and says he hardly ever charges more than his initial estimate. If sewer lines extend under a city street, the cost increases because of the permits required to close off the street to traffic and the equipment and manpower needed to access the pipes underneath the asphalt.
In general, a repair that requires the plumber to dig a trench in a yard covered by lawn or landscaping will cost less than the same repair requiring the plumber to break up cement or other hard surfaces or to access pipes running below wooden decking. Loyalty Drains and Sewers owner James Jones can usually unclog an accessible sewer line for $195.
Many plumbing contractors who specialize in outdoor plumbing use cameras to inspect pipes before creating a job cost estimate and beginning work. Clark of Pierce County Plumbing charges $199 for a camera inspection. Do Right Rooter & Plumbing Experts offers a free camera inspection on jobs that involve a main sewer line so that everyone can see the clog.
Pipe clearing method
If a camera inspection shows a blockage from tree roots or debris and sewage, there are two ways to clean the pipe: hydro-jetting, which Cooper of Do Right Rooter & Plumbing Experts says costs about $400, and power rodding, which costs $200–$250. Hydro-jetting uses pressurized water to blast away blockages and cut through tree roots that might be growing into the pipes. Sometimes chemicals are added to suppress root regrowth. Rodding uses a flexible metal cable that threads into drain systems. A rotating cleaning head with sharp teeth is attached to the end of the cable, and as the cable movers through the pipe, it cuts away roots or other materials clogging the line.
Cooper of Do Right Rooter & Plumbing Experts notes that the cost of city permits is not usually included in most plumbers’ project fees because permit costs vary so widely from city to city. It’s a good idea to find out whether the plumber will help you acquire the necessary permits or if he or she will file the necessary paperwork on your behalf.
Outdoor plumbing issues such as leaky or malfunctioning spigots are likely to incur costs comparable to minor indoor plumbing issues. Clearing clogs in outdoor pipes typically cost a bit more, with prices averaging up to $200. Note that many plumbers have a minimum charge of about $75–$100.
Like many professionals, plumbers like to be able to provide as many services as possible to customers on a single visit. Clark of Pierce County Plumbing offers deep discounts to his customers who ask his crew to fix more than one plumbing problem on a single visit. Jones of Loyalty Drains and Sewers says he’s happy to explain to customers how to fix small indoor or outdoor plumbing issues themselves, free of charge.