Sewer systems are nothing new. The first Roman sewers may have been built almost 3,000 years ago to help carry waste and dirty water away from the populace of the city. However, over the course of the last three millennia, much has changed in the way that we move water to and from public spaces safely.


For instance, while some — but not all — of the Roman sewers were submerged, the systems they used to pump water into their homes — the Roman aqueducts — were largely built above ground to take better advantage of gravity. Today, virtually all water lines — both for clean and wastewater — are submerged.


While this maintains a neat and orderly appearance in your local neighborhood, protects piping and sewer lines from damage, and prevents frozen pipes in all but the most extreme situations, it does make working on sewer lines a bit of a challenge.


Thankfully, sewer line repair technology has also come a long way in the last few millennia, and you don’t have to worry about unearthing your entire front yard for a repair when there is trenchless sewer line replacement available to you through Cupertino Plumbing in the greater San Jose area. Read today’s blog to learn more, or get in touch with our team of local plumbing experts to get an estimate on your trenchless plumbing project today.

What Exactly Is Trenchless Plumbing?

When utilities — like plumbing and sewer lines — are run to a new property, they are typically buried and ended at the property line. When a new home or structure is built, trenches are dug and piping on the property is laid and connected to the municipal sewer or other local lines. Given that heavy equipment like bulldozers, backhoes, and Bobcats are already on-site for leveling the plot and laying the foundation, trenching for sewer utilities is a pretty easy accomplishment. 


However, years later when repairs or replacements are needed, most homeowners would prefer to avoid digging up their front yard like they’re preparing for a WWI re-enactment. And for a long time, this wasn’t an option. But that was then, and this is now.

Trenchless plumbing now allows for homeowners in the Santa Clara Valley to repair or replace a sewer line without having to trench out their entire property. Depending on the problem with your plumbing, trenchless sewer line replacement can end up saving you quite a bit of time and money — not to mention save the lawn and landscaping you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.


Trenchless plumbing technology allows for subterranean work that requires very little actual excavation these days. Instead, camera cables and various types of “sounding” equipment are used to identify what kind of problem you are dealing with and where it is.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Trenchless Sewer Line Replacement?

Below is a list of some of the most common types of trenchless sewer line replacement services that are offered by trenchless plumbing companies.


Micro tunneling is often used for large scale trenchless sewer line installations and replacements. Simply put, an MTBM — a microtunnel boring machine — is driven, typically by wired remote, to bore a tunnel which new piping can be installed behind. This option is often used when new piping is installed in areas where many existing utility lines already reside.

Pipe Ramming

Pipe ramming is an incredibly versatile form of trenchless sewer line replacement option that works for vertical, horizontal, or angled sewer lines as small as 4 inches in diameter. Pneumatic pipe ramming consists of driving an open-ended pipe — or sometimes a series of telescoping pipes — into the ground, allowing the dirt, roots, and rubble to fill the pipe chamber as it is driven through. Then, when the trenchless sewer line replacement is complete, compressed air is driven through the pipe to clear it of debris before the final connection is made.

Slip Lining

Slip lining is one of the oldest, most effective, and most commonly relied on methods of trenchless sewer pipe replacement and repair. In essence, slip lining uses a malleable, polyethylene pipe to block or fix cracks and breaks in an existing pipe by pulling the polyethylene pipe through the existing pipe and then affixing it in place. This trenchless sewer repair technique requires a very small amount of excavation and can be used in many common residential sewer line replacements once the existing pipe has been cleaned and cleared of debris.



Shotcrete is the process of projecting rapidly drying cement onto an existing surface. Shotcrete serves as a means to provide high-strength, low-permeability walls and linings for various structures, but can also be used to inject a spot fix for a submerged pipe, depending on the extent of the damage and placement of the line.

Pipe Bursting

Pipe bursting is a dramatic, but effective technique of trenchless sewer line replacement that is likely to be used if your trenchless plumbing job requires doing work underneath a surface street that cars need to continue to have access to. 


Pipe bursting drives a bursting pipe head through an older, existing pipe, breaking it to pieces as the new line is installed. This is done from an access point dug into the ground, while the broken pieces of the old pipe are removed from a second access point at the other end.


Although preparation for this particular kind of trenchless sewer line repair is lengthy, the work itself is dramatically fast.

Who Uses These Kinds Of Trenchless Plumbing Services?

While large commercial enterprises — such as utility companies — and municipal authorities completing plumbing projects while attempting to disturb traffic as little as possible are the most likely to use methods like pipe bursting and microtunneling, all of these techniques can be applied to residential trenchless plumbing solutions.


If you own a home, the sewer lines that run from your structure to the street are your responsibility to maintain and repair. As such, you could make use of trenchless sewer line replacements and repairs like these should you run into underground plumbing problems. 

What Are The Benefits Of Trenchless Sewer Line Replacement?

Trenchless plumbing services offer some pretty significant benefits over traditional trench excavation plumbing including:


Residential trenchless sewer line replacements are typically much faster than traditional excavation methods. Usually able to be completed in a couple of days, trenchless sewer line work at your home largely consists of measuring everything properly, setting up equipment, and then simply placing the fix. Any minor excavations that need to be dug to allow machine or human access to a pipe are quite small and fill easily.


Most trenchless sewer line replacement techniques involve a minimal amount of actual excavation — only one or two access points for installing and removing hardware. This means that when it comes to clean up, there isn’t a whole lot to do.


When a traditional excavation method is used, not only do you have a long, deep trench running on your property — something that can be quite a liability — but you also have literal tons of dirt that will need refilling, leaving your lawn in shambles with large chunks of grass or landscaping that will need to be re-cultivated.


More often than not, trenchless sewer line replacements are actually more cost-effective than taking the longer, slower, and messier road. It’s one of the reasons that we here at Cupertino Plumbing have invested so heavily in providing this technology and these services over the last couple of decades.


With less excavation comes less cleanup, a lower chance of risk, and fewer total disturbances to daily life as your trenchless sewer line replacement project gets underway.

Schedule Your Project Estimate With The Trenchless Plumbing Pros At Cupertino Plumbing in San Jose Today

If you’re facing plumbing problems that might have something to do with your sewer lines, then make sure to get in touch with the trenchless plumbing team at Cupertino Plumbing today. We have the tools, training, and techniques to identify and fix your sewer line problems fast.