Unfortunately when most homeowners have a sewer back-up they are at the mercy of a sewer cleaner when deciding whether to excavate or have some other form of repair performed. Typically a sewer cleaner is not licensed and many times makes a commission, or a percent of the sale. There is a good chance that what is in the best interest of the property owner is not at the top of a sewer cleaners list.
Nowadays sewer lining is recommended for many unsuitable and unwarranted conditions. A resin liner was never meant as a method to repair a defective house sewer. It is more a preventive measure on a properly functioning house sewer. It can in many cases cause severe problems such as cutting off branch lines, and be a complete waste of a substantial amount of money. Many cities and municipalities do not allow lining a sewer.
Another service pushed on unknowing homeowners is the sewer camera. While a sewer camera can verify that there are roots present in your house sewer (something a good cleaner could tell you without a camera) they frequently give a poor idea of the overall condition of the sewer line. What people do not realize, and most sewer cleaners will not tell you, is that a sewer camera magnifies what it sees. Perfectly normal joints in a sewer line can appear to be faulty or defective when seen through a sewer camera. Likewise a sewer camera frequently gives a faulty location of the defect, producing the wrong footage from where the camera is inserted into the house sewer line.
One useful tool that most companies do not make use of is a sewer sonde. A sewer sonde is a highly accurate tool that gives exact location and depth of where a sewer line runs. When a sewer repair is required it is a vital and important tool that can save thousands of dollars in unnecessary excavation work.
In the end there are important points to consider before hiring a sewer contractor to repair your sewer by excavating. A good idea in many cases is simply to try a different sewer cleaning company; a relatively small expense prior to excavating. Always remember that back-pitched pipe, damaged or misaligned pipe, and root infested pipe all require excavation for a proper and long-lasting repair. Contrary to what many are being told, traditional excavation is no more expensive than sewer lining, but is a final and more professional solution. Obviously when a sewer back-up cannot be cleared a sewer repair and excavation is needed. Do not then spend money on water jetting, cameras, resin liners, or ‘a bigger machine’. Always keep in mind that if a blockage cannot be cleared with a traditional sewer cleaning machine there is something seriously structurally wrong with your house sewer. Many contractors will gladly have you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to avoid the inevitable excavation and sewer repair. Excavating for a sewer repair is needed very infrequently, but do not exhaust your finances by exhausting all other options.