Who Repairs Culvert Issues?

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated November 8, 2021
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If broken culvert pipes got you down, ease your mind by hiring the right pro for the job

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Broken culvert pipes are a major nuisance, as nothing ruins a prized patch of petunias than a flooded lawn. Many yard projects are DIY-appropriate, but it’s best to call a professional to ensure regulatory compliance when it comes to repairing or replacing culverts.

Who to Hire

So what is a culvert and what do they do? These pipes perform a necessary function on your property—they carry excess water away from your home, minimizing the chances of flooding and other moisture-related issues. Industrial manufacturers make culverts from tough and durable components, such as galvanized corrugated steel, concrete, and stone. This makes them hardy and long-lasting, but any repairs are particularly labor-intensive. 

Go with a professional excavator near you for your culvert needs. These pros will dig out a trench, determine what’s wrong, and conduct necessary repairs. Excavators charge $120 to $150 per hour.

Professional Excavator Benefits

Professional excavators use heavy-duty tools that are not likely in your garage, including rock saws, industrial grinders, and, in rare cases, bulldozers. Additionally, a qualified technician will ensure everything is up to code and obtain any permits required by local law. These permits are crucial if the culvert extends beyond your property.

How Excavators Repair Culverts

The first thing a pro will do is excavate the structure to conduct a thorough inspection. They will look for cracks, crushed ends, corrosion, missing bolts or rivets, and joint separations. They will also conduct tests to see how the water flow has been interrupted by any of the above issues and remove any built-up debris along the way. 

After the inspection, the pro will decide whether to repair or replace it. In many cases, it’s more cost-effective to replace the entire culvert. For instance, repairing a rusted or worn-out culvert will take longer than simply replacing it, and a brand-new replacement can last 25 to 50 years. 

Repairs are the better option in some scenarios, however. A pro will conduct structural repair of galvanized steel culverts, repair joints, replace missing bolts or rivets, and install cured-in-place resin liners. Other solutions include installing a reinforced concrete invert to replace a deteriorated invert and spot-patching any damaged or deteriorating coatings. Afterwards, the pro will stabilize the fill surrounding the culvert.

Driveway Contractors

If your culvert is on the smaller side and runs directly underneath your driveway, you may want to hire a qualified driveway contractor company to excavate, inspect, and conduct repairs. These projects cost $4 to $15 per square foot. Talk to the technician ahead of time to ensure they are well-versed in culvert repairs and are licensed to do the job. 

If you go with another specialized professional, you may still need to hire a local driveway paving contractor to repave your driveway after the excavator finishes their work. Paving a driveway is a meticulous job with plenty of potential pitfalls, and mistakes may be costly.

DIY Repair

In theory, you could conduct minor repairs on a smaller culvert, such as a small circular pipe or an arch culvert. If one end, for instance, becomes crushed, it wouldn’t be too difficult to use a floor jack to open it back up. However, you would have no way of knowing the status of the rest of the culvert without a proper excavation. Additionally, a floor jack would only work on a metal culvert, as the jack will damage stone and concrete.  

As for more extensive repair jobs and even replacements, it’s best to hire a pro. They are specially trained to excavate large portions of your yard, inspect for damage, move the weighty pipes around, and source replacement components.

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