At some point in your homeowner’s journey, you will inevitably be faced with a plumbing issue. Indoor plumbing is one of the world’s greatest inventions, but this does not mean there are never problems. Most homes have many feet of piping to carry out all of the tasks that modern life requires. These pipes are often underground, where they can be jostled, frozen, or have roots intruding into them. When these problems happen, you will need a plumber to fix the problem. Our experienced plumbers at 3 Mountains Plumbing right here in Milwaukie can accurately diagnose the problem and suggest a repair. Since many pipes are underground, the repair process may require excavation.

What is Excavation?

Excavation is the term used to describe the process of removing soil, rocks, and other debris from the area where the pipes are. Simply digging a hole is considered excavation. However, in plumbing excavation, specialized tools such as a mini excavator are often used. When your plumber is close to the pipe, he may leave the big tools behind and use his trusty shovel. When an area is excavated for plumbing problems, the soil removed is generally put back from where it is taken. In other types of excavation, the soil may be moved to another location.

When is Excavation Used?

There are many different types of plumbing repairs today. Sometimes, your plumber will be able to fix the problem without doing any type of digging. However, some repairs require too much work to be eligible for a trenchless repair. Your plumber will always try to see if a trenchless repair will work first, as no one enjoys their lawn being dug up. But if this is not an option, an excavation must be performed. Another time excavation is necessary is when the pipes are severely damaged and will need to be replaced.

Preparing the Site for Excavation

As the homeowner, there may be a few things you need to do first before the excavation can begin. Some of these items will be done by the plumber. He will let you know which items you are responsible for. Of course, it will be your responsibility to remove any vehicles or other objects that may get in the way of the machinery.

Identify Underground Utilities

Before any digging commences, you’ll want to know where your underground utilities are, such as electricity and telephones. This normally entails a call to your local utility company, who will then come and mark where the wires are with flags. The homeowner typically does this before the plumbing company shows up. Sometimes the utility companies cannot come out to your property right away. Therefore, you need to make this phone call at least a week ahead of the scheduled plumber’s visit.

Obtain Permits

Depending on where you live, there may be certain permits required before digging can begin. Guidelines vary, with some areas allowing the plumber to file for the permits, and some areas requiring the homeowner to do so. Your plumber will let you know if any permits are required. He will also tell you if you need to file them or if he can. There is sometimes a fee required to file for certain permits.

Thorough Inspection

Before the plumber starts any digging, he will perform a thorough inspection of the pipes. This is typically done with a camera that is threaded through the system. Then the plumber can see exactly where the problem is and how big it is. This step should not require anything from you.

Types of Excavation

From shovels to excavators, there are a few different ways to accomplish the same goal. Your plumbing team will first have to evaluate the situation. Then they can determine which method will work the best and the most cost-effective.

Open Trenching

Open trenching is the most common form of excavating. This method involves manually removing the soil and rocks from the area of excavation. This may include using shovels and other digging tools, or heavy machinery such as excavators. The loosened soil is then placed somewhere safe until it is needed again.

Hydro Excavation

In this method, high-pressure water is used to remove the soil and create a trench. If the area that needs to be dug up is close to utilities, this can be a safer way to do it.

Horizontal Drilling

This is the most complex type of excavation. A directional drilling machine is used to clear a path for the pipes to fit through. This is most often used in new construction and is often referred to as a trenchless excavation.

Replacing the Soil

After the digging is completed, the plumbing team will make sure the soil is safely stored for the remainder of the project. Once the repairs are complete, the soil can then be placed back in the trenches. Your plumber will carefully compress the soil back into the hole to prevent issues with the soil resettling.

Sewer Inspection and Cleaning

Any service that can be performed on your water pipes can also be performed on your sewer pipes. You might want to have your plumber perform a sewer inspection if he’s at your house anyway. The equipment used is often the same. Getting your sewer inspected and cleaned can prevent a future problem.

Rooter Services

Once the plumber has thoroughly investigated the source and severity of the problem, they may decide you don’t need an excavation after all. Rooter services clean out your pipes without excavation. Hydrojetting can also be used to clean out the sewer pipes.

Benefits of Excavation

Even though you probably don’t relish the idea of machines digging into your yard, the gains are often worth it. Camera inspections and trenchless repair are great inventions in the world of plumbing. But sometimes, the old ways are still the best. When your pipes are underground, it’s hard to get a good sense of what is going on with them. Especially if your home is older, it can be hard to determine the problem if your plumber can’t see it in person. Excavation allows him to fully see and inspect the pipes. Once the pipe is exposed, full repair or replacement can be done.

3 Mountains Plumbing in Milwaukie is a full-service HVAC contractor that can take care of all your HVAC and plumbing needs. From heating to air conditioning to sewer repair, our technicians are knowledgeable and experienced. We care about our customers’ comfort, so we offer a customer care plan for year-round service. For a monthly fee, we will perform certain services, such as inspections, every year for no further cost. Ask your technician about all of the benefits offered through our customer care plan. Your satisfaction is our number one priority.

Whether your HVAC problem is big or small, we can help. Give us a call today!

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