Main line backed up again!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by rmelo99, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    So just found the what appears to be a backup in the main line. I had the same problem a few months ago and they were able to snake it out. Thankfully I found out before the basement became my own sewage holding plant.

    The shower in the basement (lowest opening) is full of fluids, and that's as far as it's gone!

    I have a call out to the sewer warranty company now to have them send someone out. I'm going to try and see if they'll get the plumber to throw a camera down the line to confirm I have no breakage or line shifting. I'm worried the clearing the line might just be bandaiding the problem.
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    Sorry about your problem, but you are dealing with it properly. A camera inspection is definitely in order.
  3. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

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    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Ok so they came out and cleared the line. I was very happy they came within an hour of calling.I guess timing is everything, they were just finishing up another job.

    They didn't do a camera inspection, but said if it happens again they would get authorization to do so from the sewer warranty company.

    He said the line seemed to be ok, thinks its clay but it could be concrete. Those are the most common in my neighborhood. He said since i have no trees the lines are usually very durable. He said it transitions out to a 6" line under the ground. Seems pretty big, but he said thats what it is.

    The clog was very easy and nothing came back with the snake. He ran it about 90ft(to the street). He said tampons might cause this but I know that 100% isn't the case. The wife has a little trash can where they go. I'm thinkin some of the fluffy paper we bought may be to blame. I guess now we wait!
  4. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

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    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Third Time is a Charm!
    Clogged again, this time I insisted on a camera inspections. They water jetted the line to get the water moving, then threw a camera down the pipe. They only got about 9ft or so from the basement. Looks like rocks, may be a seperation in the joint.

    The bad news is the line runs right down the center of the front yard to the street. The good news is I haven't installed the front walkway that was scheduled to be installed in a few weeks!

    It's about 65-70ft to the sidewalk. They are planning to take it past the sidewalk and bring a cleanout up to the surface. There is a 5k cap on the insurance I have on the sewer line. I may have to come out of pocket if they cannot connect to the pipe before the street. He said if they have to go further it will prob pass the 5k the insurance company covers.

    I guess the timing is good, if the line clogged after the front walk way was installed I would be PISSED. 70ft x 4ft of any walkway, concrete or stone AINT CHEAP.
  5. cloves

    cloves New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Wow thats crazy thanks for sharing, so most likely the outside side sewer pipe broke and rocks and dirt have gotten into the pipe. Once you dig up the pipe you may even have a mass amount of fluids where the clog was happening.

    Just out of curiosity, you mentioned that you did the work via the warranty. Is this part of your house insurance or the cities warranty? Just trying to get a handle on that.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    Whatever it is, it must be a separate policy, because neither the homeowner's insurance nor the city warranties sewer lines on the property outside the building.
  7. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    So the warranty is through the Water /Sewer Company. I pay like $68 for one and $78 for the other per year.

    The water line protection covers my supply line from the meter/curbbox to the house.

    The sewer protection cover me from the street to the first(main) cleanout in the house. Covers replacement/repair of the line and clearing of blockages. This one has a annual $5k cap. It covers excavation/permits/loaming/reseeding the lawn/replacing sidewalks, etc....

    I am very greatful, it has paid for itself many times over. I added these both to all my houses a while back. My in-laws had their main water line spring a leak and it was covered. They came out cut the water service from the street, replaced the main valve all for free on a weekend. It would have cost them $400+ and the $75 to come turn off and and the water at the street.

    Small price to pay per year. My house is 100+ years old, I have no idea how old the sewer or main water line in is. I have no way to know the condition. I do know that replacing either would cost me a LOT of money.
  8. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Now that you have a brand new line you can drop the coverage and say you made out like a bandit!:D
  9. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    So the BIG DIG went down today. They had to go about 12ft down. Of course the line doesn't head straight out to the street as was expected. In addition the line has two lines that leave the house and are joined outside in the ground. Instead of this being a replacement it turned into just a repair. The pipe out to the street is 4" concrete. I was told because of the depth replacement out to the street at the current depth would be in the 15-20k range.!!!!!

    They are recommended I re-route the plumbing stacks in the basement to go out the side at a lesser depth. We're back in business for now but have to figure out a long term fix. I'm going to research pipe-bursting and other options that don't require excavating at such a depth.

    Good news is we found nice new 6"PVC line at about 6ft down that someone did for the storm water. I had pulled all of my gutter downspouts out since I didn't think I had "real" underground drainage. All the gutters are going back into the ground now that I know it gets piped into the city storm system.
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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    Location:
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    I'm surprised they let a concrete line be repaired.
    In the city to your east last I knew they required replacement on any concrete line.

    Did you get the balance of the line camera inspected?
    If so how did it look?
    Concrete usually rots out on the bottom from water flow erosion.

    Relining may be the ticket if the line is decent.
  11. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    No, I didn't get the line camera inspected. They called the camera/snake guys but they were up north and no where nearby to come check the line.

    You have to remember this is all being done on the insurance dime, not mine. My main objective right now was to get back in business with little if any out of pocket. As the hole got bigger and deeper my heart started beating faster!

    They were able to cut the concrete using a concrete saw and tied into clean cut ends on both sides, if that says anything about the condition of the concrete pipe.

    I don't know who would have "required" them to replace the concrete pipe, there weren't any city or sewer officials onsite. The crew def knew what they were doing, you can just tell when someone has been doing this for many years. Again all this was contracted by the sewer company through their insurance coverage.

    A good bunch of guys, who knew the plan was to get the line working/repaired and buy us time till we are ready to replace. I will post some pictures later to get thoughts on what was done. They backfilled around the repair with gravel, brought a cleanout up into the front yard, and even repaired 2 fernco connections on the 6" storm sewer drain.

    They came ready to run a new 6" line to the street, but had to improvise when it was determined the line didn't run where it was expected. My wife was of the feeling that's on them and it comes with the job. But most people know that you can't know what you are up against until you see it with your own eyes.

    I will be opening a new thread to get some advice on the different options I have for replacing. I have a good handle on the different approaches but would like to get some opinions on pros/cons of each.
  12. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    So the main line is backed up again. The topsoil was just delivered from the work they finished last month!

    I'm at my ends with how to handle this and could use some advice. I'm not sure if the work would/should carry any warranty of any kind.

    The "repair" work to the line was done via the sewer line insurance. The bill for that was $3200-3400. The insurance has an annual payout limit of $5000, or which $500 or so went to a snake job earlier in the year.

    I don't know what the issue is but I have to imagine since they repaired/replaced a section last month that there is a problem further down the line or it could be an issue with the repair.

    The repair entailed replacing about a 8ft or so section of pipe and tying into the house and into the rest of the main with 2 ferncos. They also brought a cleanout up to the front yard of the house( already have one in the basement)


    I put the hose down the cleanout in the front yard and I can hear it hit water at about the depth of the repair which means water isn't flowing down to the street.

    I'm planning to call the warranty company who paid for and contracted all of the work. I didn't contract the repair that was done last month so if anyone has recourse with the contractor it would be them.

    What should my expectation be of this repair? Since the rest of the line wasn't camera'd it could be an issue further down that wasn't addressed.

    I think it could be the same issue as before. When they couldn't get the camera more than 10ft of so from the house they marked that location as being where the blockage was.

    After the ground was opened it became evident that the sewer line didn't take a straight run to the street, but instead took a left turn right about 10ft out from the house. I think now that the camera couldn't navigate the 90deg turn and infact there wasn't a blockage at 10ft but rather a 90deg elbow.




    If a sewer line replacement is in order I am upset that $3400 was wasted for this repair instead of going to pay for a portion of a replacement. That doesn't seem right to me. The contractor never gave me an indication that this was a "temporary repair". They had my front yard dug up and the equipment on site. If a replacement was in order @ that time I would think he should have said so.

    I was very pleased with how his work looked and the crew was great. They seemed to know their stuff. How is this usually handled. If the problem turns out to be with his connection into the existing line?

    So the plan is for me to call out my own plumber/drain company to snake and camera the line on my own dime to asses the situation. Then I think I will have a better idea of the whole picture. so I'm sure I will be back with an update. The new cleanout in the front yard is taken off a where there was an elbow so from that new cleanout it is a straight shot to the street. This will make it easier to snake/camera 1etc.

    I anticipate the next few days will be very crazy. I'm hoping whomever I get out here will at least be able to clean the line to get me back in business, I'm praying to just a paper blockage! If they can't then I will have to move quick on my game plan.

    I will be getting people lined up to give me estimates on "trenchless" and conventional replacements. Any tips as to how what should be asked? Given the depth of my line I think that some trenchless options may be more cost effective.(at least it sounded that way from what the guy that did the repair said). Would being down 12ft double my replacement cost? I have a 100% straight unobstructed shot to the street about 60-70ft of line.
  13. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I've attached a couple of drawings of what I'm dealing with if it will help with some replies.

    The line was snaked out today and I'm working. Camera is happening tomorrow to check the condition.

    SewerPic1.jpg SewerPic2.jpg

    I was told the sewer in front of thehouse is 15-17ft deep and the one on the side street is only 6-8ft. That means my 12ft deep line has to connect into the sewer in the front street, the path it takes is unknown.
    The yard has maybe a 1-2 degree slope (FLAT) and is all grass with easy access from everywhere being a corner property.

    I have lined up a few guys to give me quotes for replacement. So far several have repeated the same over the phone, that going into the street adds big $$$ to the job and that I should look to reroute the line so it isn't buried 12ft down.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2010
  14. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
    349
    Location:
    Connecticut
    sewerPic3.jpg So they camera'd the line and also located it for me. Good news is no breaks no collapsed line.
    The concrete is just old. The bottom isn't as smooth as it probably was at some point early in it's life.

    So several guys came out to quote the line replacement. Basically it was like 15-20k to replace the current line to the sewer main in from of the house @ the same depth 12ft+.

    The other option is to replace the sewer out to the side street at a shallower depth. 5-8k.

    I'm not replacing the line at this moment. I think i'm on borrowed time and since I don't have any intention to spend 5figure$ on a sewer line I'm doing prep work for a shallower depth line.

    This means that I need to re-route the drains in the basement. I've attached a sketch of the plan.

    The orange is running a 4" horizontal line around the permiter of the basement so in the future I can exit out the basement wall @ 4ft to a new sewer line.

    The red is the "future" shallow sewer line.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    27,026
    Location:
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    The guys doing the work were dedicated to doing as little as possible to get your sewer working again, otherwise they would have replaced it. A concrete sewer was NEVER any good, even when it was installed. ANY good camera will negotiate a 90 degree turn. If that $5,000.00 is a cap and you have already spent half of it, you may be in for some sticker shock. Pipe bursting is NOT a cheap option, and when the pipe makes turns the results may be iffy, since the burster will attempt to install the new pipe in a straight line between the two holes they make. In addition, there is no "where the pipe was thought to be". It should be THIS is where the pipe is. Before digging they should either consult the sewer plat map and see EXACTLY where you connection was, or send a locator sonde to track its direction.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2010
  16. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

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  17. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

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    Location:
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    I think when they came to do the work they became fixated on one thing and that's where all the work went. I can't do anything to change that now. Am I bummed out that the work ate into my $5000 cap, sure. Even though it wasn't my money I would have prefered it be better put to use replacing more pipe or the entire line.

    I spoke with the warranty company. I have $1200+/- left in my annual cap. In addition the counter resets in october. At that point I will have $5000 to go towards any repairs if I run into any more problems. My hope is that I can make it through to the next policy cycle before any major issues.

    The line is working fine right now. I have popped the cleanout cap in the basement to check for standing water (a sign of problems) and so far so good. I know for sure if I have backups issues down the road that I'm not allowing my $5000 cap to go towards any repairs. It prob won't cover an whole new line but I'm perfectly ok with paying the reasonable difference to see a permanent fix put in place.
  18. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

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    Check your visitor messages on your profile page and give me a call
  19. rmelo99

    rmelo99 Network Engineer

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Connecticut
    Main line is backed up again....sigh this sucks! They came out within half an hour and snaked 2X from the basement drain. Then they used a blow back with no luck. We then moved out to the cleanout in the front yard, spent some time shoveling snow to find the damn cap. They snaked it 2 more times and blow bag with no luck. They threw a camera down the line and located it about 65' from the cleanout. Couldn't really get a visual on the camera since the pipe was full of water. They put it down as collapsed line. They spent 3hrs trying to get me cleared but were unable.

    They have a call out to the excavator and I'm sure I will hear back tomorrow, but at this point it's getting old. I just want this fixed and not keep finding my basement filled with "stuff".

    I'm going to push for a replacement, which is what they were supposed to do last time and I ended up with a repair only. I'm in another year now so my insurance should give me $5k worth of work. My fear is this won't cover the entire job and I'll have to come out of pocket. I'm ok with a reasonable amount but me having to pony up an additional $5k-7k like I was told last time doesn't sound right.

    Since I've re-routed all of my interior drain lines so that I can leave the house at a shallower depth, 6ft or so below grade vs. 15ft+ my job should be much simpler to run a new line correct? This is what I was told by a few guys that came out last time.

    Any issues digging in the snow/cold for a new line and/or repair?
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    What do you mean "the downspouts are going to go into the ground, now that I know the line goes to the sanitary sewer"? Unless your city has a combination sewer system, and most have abandoned the concept, you CANNOT connect your rain gutters to the sanitary sewer.
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