DWV retrofit?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Nord, May 15, 2006.

  1. Nord

    Nord New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    This forum is a god send. Thank you all.

    My tale of woe is fairly long. I apologize in advance.

    I'm a first time homeowner/budding DIY'er.

    I noticed a hole in my side yard not too long ago, didn't think anything of it, and put a paver stone over it to keep from breaking an ankle. The other day, I moved the paver to mow the area, and came upon a gaggle of roaches. I could see that the hole went down into what I thought was a cavity under a tree root. I set about to dig the "tree root" up and soon discovered that it was really a concrete drain pipe - the building pipe I believe.

    The lateral pipe (appears to be CI) comes out from under the foundation right outside my guest bathroom, and joins the concrete wye about two feet away from the house. The wye was where the hole and the cockroaches were. The run to the city line is probably 40-50 feet.

    The property has trees with surface roots, but not in the direction of the run to the city line. In reading some previous posts, I think it would be in my best interests to get a camera out here to run through the pipe to determine its integrity prior to setting upon it with a shovel and a couple of laborers to excavate the whole thing. That being said, if the concrete pipe (about 4" diameter) is okay, I suspect it will be a simple matter to retrofit an ABS or PEX wye in place of the old concrete one, no?

    And then that brings me to part two of the tale of woe. There was a hole near the back fence where I'm assuming the city sewer is buried. I thought the previous owner's dogs had dug it, but after realizing the first "sinkhole" was caused by a broken pipe, I took shovel to it, and the shovel quickly went in up to the handle (3 feet). Some roaches and other bugs scampering about as I dug indicated that there was water down there.

    I don't know if there's a question in here anywhere, but after reading a previous post about 45 degree bends, sewer mains 20 feet down, and backhoes, I figured it best to just stop digging for now.

    So, to recap, I should probably get a camera out here, assess the integrity of the pipe, and proceed accordingly.

    Any words of comfort or support would be greatly appreciated by me and the wifey. If there are any Houston plumbers out there who can chime in, they would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,395
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Sound like you may have some major problems. I think you're wise to get it properly inspected and evaluated. Often sewer lines are quite deep and it's really not a job you should try to do yourself. When you get to the depth where sewer lines often are, beside a huge job of hand digging, you run a real risk of having the trench cave in on you. Hiring cheap labor isn't too good an idea either since you would be liable of any injuries incurred.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    pipe

    Save the money for the camera and apply to the new sewer. Concrete pipe is ALWAYS bad. The joints were made with cement so roots had little problem penetrating, and the pipe itself is brittle and cracks very easily.
  4. Gouranga

    Gouranga Software Engineer

    Messages:
    79
    Location:
    Gaston County, NC
    I think one of the BEST qualities of a good DIYer is knowing when you are over your head. I would certainly get a pro in there to eval it. I had a dude run a camera down my sewer line. On top of the break that had a serious amount of roots in it, he located 2 points in the line that had not broken yet, but would be there soon. The bill stung a bit but still beat the cost of what would have happened had I decided to attempt that myself.
    Good luck!!
  5. Nord

    Nord New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Wow, none of that is encouraging

    And it's exactly what I feared. Thanks for your insight. I'll let you folks know how it turns out.
  6. Nord

    Nord New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Update

    So I couldn't take the suspense any longer. I overlaid the Harris County GIS with wastewater lines and 2 foot countour lines. To make a long story short, I put the depth of the city sewer at about 3 feet.

    Back to the shovel, and, lo and behold, there's the big break in the city main at just about three feet down. Had the wifey flush the old toilet which drains directly into the concrete line, there it went.

    Then had her flush the "new" toilet (in the master bedroom which was added on in the recent past, plumbed with PVC) and there goes the water. I can only surmise that whoever did the add-on tied the pvc drain line into the concrete building line. No way of knowing without more digging.

    Which is encouraging because the big break in the city line (8" concrete pipe) is located in the easement, which means the city should have to fix it. Hopefully. And I might be able to do a temporary fix to the break in the building line until I can afford to replace the whole she-bang.

    Will keep posting as more digging occurs.
  7. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    Be careful messing w/ the cities sewers ...might hold you liable for that damage!!!

    Jason
  8. Nord

    Nord New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Within Reason?

    Just got a quote from a guy for replacing the entire line to the stub-out, labor and materials, $2200.00.

    It's a run of about 40-50 feet, and the pipe sits 1ft-3ft below grade.

    Does this sound about right?
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