Huge Root Issue

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by sb305198, Oct 13, 2008.

  1. sb305198

    sb305198 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I'm sure that this has been posted before, but I'm going to ask anyway because of the nuances (I believe) of my problem. I've got a 60+ year old home that does not have a house trap at all. This morning we noticed that sewage was leaking up from the 2 drains (one in the garage) one in the basement, and called roto rooter. He opened the drains and informed me that there are several (unknown how many at this time) root masses blocking the sewer pipes and while we could cut the roots out and cut down the tree, the roots would likely continue growing and we'd eventually buckle? the lines and have to replace them completely. He suggested putting in a new line outside and running it to the street (probably 30 feet) and bypassing the current lines. He quoted me nearly $9000 which is almost 10% of what I paid for the house.

    Should I:
    1. Go ahead and do this--there's no alternative (but shop around on price).
    2. Try and have the roots dug out and then put root killer down the sewage pipes 1x per year.
    3. Cut down the tree and do #3.
    4. Call the previous owner and threaten to sue until they help fix the issue. This isn't a new issue, it's been growing this way for years (so the plumber says), and we would be required to disclose it to new owners--it wasn't disclosed to us (our inspector didn't run a camera through the plumbing).
    5. None of the above--let the place fall over, chances are it's worth less than we paid for it anyway.

    Thanks!
  2. Ladiesman271

    Ladiesman271 Homeowner

    Messages:
    221

    You own the house, you own the problem.

    Have the roots cutout, or live in sewage. Your choice. Not sure why you did not have roto rooter do the cleanout while they were there. That is a common pipe cleanout problem if you have trees.

    As far as the scare tactics are concerned, never deal with anyone who trys to rip you off that way. Get a price from a few other people if you want to make a big deal out of it. You want your pipes roto rootered, not your pocket book.

    I would just have the roots roto rootered when (and if) the pipe clogs up again.
  3. sb305198

    sb305198 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Thanks LM, I appreciate your advice. I think you are right about the scare tactics--it's a shame because normally these guys are pretty reputable. I'm going to opt for #2...literally, I love sewage, it does a lot of nice things for my complexion.

    Would you bother with having the massive tree felled, or just not worry about it for right now and see if the roots do come back?

    -scott.
  4. sb305198

    sb305198 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    One more quick question...how does one normally price out a job such as rotorootering--is it by the foot, the severity of the problem? Is there a fair estimate that I should be looking for or just some factors I need to consider.
  5. Scott,
    You apparently have an old sectional drain line (most likely cast iron) which will continue to allow root intrusion between the sections until you replace it with something solid like white plastic PVC or black plastic ABS pipe (IF allowed locally) that won't allow root intrusion ("glued" sections).
    Even if you roto-rooter it out, the roots will probably re-appear in 1.5-2 years.
    Get several bids on replacing the line, and try to save the trees.
    Good Luck!
    Mike
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    From what I hear, the company you mentioned works on commission, and their prices are quite high. Get several quotes, I'm pretty sure you will be able to get it done for quite a bit less. A good portion of the cost is digging. It depends on how deep, and the kind of soil, and how far. Sometimes, it is cheaper to abandon the old line and run a new one, especially if the old one ran underneath a big tree. See what the pros have to say.
  7. sb305198

    sb305198 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Thanks both:

    @ mike-I believe you are right about the type of plumbing-it's black PVC in my garage (where the trap should be but isn't) but I don't know as that means anything for the rest of the line.

    @ jad-that's an excellent point, do you know of anyone that doesn't work on comission that is a larger company, or are they all this way? If I feel competent to do the digging could you reccomend that or would it be a fool's errand? My first quote suggested what you said, but that was why the cost was so high. He said that the alternative (having to replace everything when the roots buckle the plumbing) would be even more expensive--which I'm sure is true, I just don't like my hand being forced that way.
  8. jastori

    jastori New Member

    Messages:
    118
    Location:
    Illinois
    Doing the digging yourself is a common way to save money on this type of job, and a very reasonable plan. I would try to find a reputable local plumber who is willing to work with you (he tells you what he needs for the trench, etc.). Talk to a few different people until you find someone you are comfortable with. I don't think a large company really offers much benefit - it is more important to find someone who is experienced and honest. A large company may end up sending someone on your job who is less experienced and qualified.
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,824
    Location:
    New England
    Depending on the depth of a trench and your soil conditions, it can be quite dangerous. Plus, digging trenches is hard work. Your pipes could be anywhere from a few feet, to 10-20' deep at the road where your line connects to the main. So, hard to say if this is a viable do-it-yourself project. If you call your local public works people, they can probably tell you how deep the sewer is near your house. As long as you can maintain the proper slope, if there's a tree in the way, you can go around it. That may not be possible, depending on 1, where the pipe exits your house and 2, where it connects to the main.

    More than one person has died when the hole collapsed around them.
  10. sb305198

    sb305198 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Guys thanks so much---i'm not certain which way i'm going, but this wealth of advice has really helped. my dad is a farmer and he has a lot of experience *ahem* laying pipe (thanks mom!) but I obviously don't want a FATALITY on my hands, so we'll see what happens.

    Thanks again.

    -scott.
  11. krow

    krow Plumber

    Messages:
    906
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't know what is meant by the words "pretty reputable", but if roto rooter in your area is anything like they are in my area, they are known to guage the industry. I would give you advice to get multiple quotes if you choose to contract any digging, if you should decide to take that route.
  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Did this guy even try to snake your line, or, did he go right to selling you a new line?:eek:

    More details please!
  13. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #3. Possibly #4 later.
  14. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    Those Co. (Rooters) Will try and up sell you as soon as they walk through the door. Call another drain Co. You will get lower prices. The bigger the add the bigger the price.

    They will not touch anything till the home owner agrees to the price.
    #4 well I have never seen a home seller want to disclose anything like that or any real estate agents that want that type of info disclosed. The houses would never sell. The cost to fix the pipe is way more than just digging it up. The landscaping costs money also. I have had a few houses that the new owners move in and a few days or month later the sewer backs up. The boxes still sitting in the basement with goods still in them.
  15. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Root issue

    1. St you don't necessary have to start by digging this up ! !
    You said they cleared the line but only guessed about the amount of roots in the drain ? ?
    If the line was throughly cleaned properly it will probably be a long time before you have any more problems
    if you want insurance on this hire another company to clean line
    and run a camera down drain to tell "exactly" how much roots
    you have and run some "root-x" foaming root killer in the line
    with a copy of the camera run you will know a lot more about weather any other action needed if so their is two different "trench-less" ways to replace without cutting tree or digging up your yard
  16. sb305198

    sb305198 New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Guys I really can't thank you enough for your attention to my problem. Thanks Al Gore, I love the internet. Here's what I can offer by way of explanation:

    1. Did this guy even try to snake your line, or, did he go right to selling you a new line?

    He ran a camera and saw multiple root clogs/root incursions. He cleared out the stuff stuck in the roots (worms, etc.) and then proceeded to try and sell what amounts to him running a single piece of sewer line through my existing line, replacing the line and removing the "joints" or "connectors" or whatever the roots are moving through.

    I'm nervous about cutting down the tree because it will likely be a huge expense (this tree is a solid 80 feet high and probably 3 feet in diameter). It also really undermines the marketability of the home.

    #4 well I have never seen a home seller want to disclose anything like that or any real estate agents that want that type of info disclosed. The houses would never sell. The cost to fix the pipe is way more than just digging it up. The landscaping costs money also. I have had a few houses that the new owners move in and a few days or month later the sewer backs up. The boxes still sitting in the basement with goods still in them.

    I think I see what you are getting at, but maybe I'm missing the point. I'm pretty sure (obviously can't be positive) that the home owners knew about the problem and didn't disclose a material problem that they were aware of to the buyer. I've been in the mortgage/real estate industry for almost a decade and I could be wrong, but I think not disclosing these things is against good faith laws pertaining to transfer of property. Obviously having a multiple thousand dollar expense on my hands could've/would've changed my decision to make a sizable investment.

    Do you have any experience of homeowners going back to sellers and asking/litigating a problem like this to be made whole? If so, I'd love to hear from you.

    Again, gentlemen and ladies, I can't thank you enough--but maybe I have, doing it twice in one post.
  17. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    Ok a large amount of roots just does not appear over night. It takes years to grow from a small amout and snaking the drain like maybe once a year. Then as time goes it becomes a bigger mass and your snaking it twice a year.
    I have never seen or heard anyone try and claim former owner responsibility. Most drain cleaners will be able to tell you if the line has been opened in the past. The clean out will be marked or a newer style.
    I'm betting there is a rather large hole in your pipe.
    Have you thought of or heard of pipe relining or pipe bursting. It could save you a few bucks.
  18. Jay Mpls

    Jay Mpls Master plumber

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    The roots have been there. Your not the first to need then cabled on out.Call a good LOCAL-NEIGHBORHOOD drain cleaner and I bet you will be just fine untill the roots grow back.Don't over think it and don't worry! Roots are usual and customary,thats why these companies are called rooters.If these larger co.'s had there ways everyone would get new sewers and no root removal with a machine.
  19. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Have a local drain cleaning company, other than RR, come out and cut out the roots like others have suggested...then go on that large internet auction site and buy a product call Root X and use it. If you cut the tree down and use the Root X it should take care of the root problem... I would have the company that cuts out the roots run a camera when they are done to see just what the condition of the pipe is...it still may need replacement or repair but cutting the roots and using Root X will buy you some time...unless the line is colapsed.
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