Sewer Repair

What & Why 

Seattle has approximately 1,421 miles of sewer pipe and the median age of these pipes is 80 years old. Because materials used for these pipes are expected to last 80 to 120 years, many pipes within Seattle’s public sewer system are at an age where they need to be inspected to determine if repairs are necessary.

To be more efficient, we typically bundle separate sewer pipe sites into a single project. Contractors then bid on the project, and the successful bidder is hired by the City of Seattle.

Repairs to city sewer pipes may take one of the following forms:

  • Lining a pipe
  • Digging a trench to access and fix the pipe

Sewer lining projects are preferable, when possible, as they have a lower environmental impact, are less impactful to the neighborhood, and save a substantial amount of money when compared to spot sewer repairs. Sewer repair projects only repair public sewers owned by the city. Learn about residential and private side sewers and backups.

What to expect

Pipe repairs and lining are ongoing throughout the year, and take place across the city. The duration of construction is site-specific and depends on the type of repair; watch our video for more information on typical sewer repairs.

Impacts during the work may include:

  • A chemical odor for sewer lining projects
  • Reduced street parking
  • Temporary lane or road closures and traffic delays
  • Construction noise and equipment

Project goals and benefits

By repairing the city’s sewer pipes before they fail, more costly emergency repairs are avoided. This in turn helps avoid negative environmental impacts, sewer service disruption, and road closures. When possible, SPU tries to line sewer pipes as the first repair option.