sewer line questions...

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Master Brian, Jul 7, 2009.

  1. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    I'd like some feedback and a few questions answered....

    House was built in 1915. In about the 1st 2 months of living in house, which was a foreclosure, I had the plumber out to unclog the main sewer line, which kept backing up. First time he used a cutter, the 2nd time he used one of those balloon things. Sorry, can't think of correct term.

    Haven't had any issues in the last 12-13months, but I put a root killer and another chemical down the line late last summer. There is also a large maple tree that is offset to the north of the line.

    I was needing to expand a fish pond, so I originally thought I'd put it in the section of yard where the sewer line runs. I started digging, thinking, I'd like to see what my sewer line looks like as well. Sewer line is down about 4', pond was going to be about 3'. I later decided even though the pond wouldn't be directly above the sewer line, that probably wasn't a good idea, so I moved the pond to a different area. I do still have about 6' of the line exposed and am trying to decide what to do.

    What I can see looks to be in good shape, but I haven't seen the inside of the line. I also am unsure if I have clay or cast, is there an easy way to tell the two apart from the outside? I can take and post a pic if it would help. The pipe is in about 2-3' sections and appears to be greyish in color with the more bell shaped ends, similar to what the cast inside my house has.

    I don't mind digging the rest up, it's not been that hard to dig, what I've already done. Maybe a few hours. I'm sure the hard part will be around the Maple tree, so I don't damage the larger roots.

    I guess my questions are...
    1) Since I have 6' of line exposed with about 1-2' more to dig to expose another 6'-8', should I go ahead and dig the rest up? I figure total length is about 30-40' max. I should add this line is directly under an area, I plan to landscap, there will be a staircase to an upper level deck directly over the line and a stone patio.

    2) Can anyone give me a cost idea of what a plumber will charge to come and yank out the old line and replace with PVC, if I have the old line exposed and will do the fill in work myself as well? I know I can make a few calls, but I'd like to know what I'm looking at cost wise prior to making the calls, so I can be better informed.

    3) Should I hold off and have a camera sent in to see what the inside of the pipe looks like? I haven't done that, because I have always thought it was a few hundred $$$ to have a camera sent in.

    4) What is the life span of the clay or cast in an underground setting?

    Thanks for any feedback.
  2. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    Here is a pic of the pipe in question. Is it clay, which I'm starting to think or cast??

    Attached Files:

  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2009
  4. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Oh I like that clay pipe. It always cuts nice and clean when I install clean outs in it.
  5. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    So now the question is replace or leave well enough alone? I used to think it was cast, so figured it was probably rusting/corroding inside, like the cast inside my house was doing.

    How does this pipe age???
  6. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Tree roots likes to grow in the joints of the pipe. Other than that it will las a life time as long as it does not get cracked during an install. I would have some one shoot a camera down the line to make sure there is no broken pipes in the system, I would also opt to have an outside clean out installed on the line if you are not going to replace it. This way cleaning it will be much more efficient.
  7. Master Brian

    Master Brian DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    368
    Location:
    Kansas
    There is already a clean out installed outside the house, so at least that part is taken care of.

    I will look into the camera suggestion, if I can get it done fairly inexpensively. I just know they charge a lot for that and I understand why, it's just that I feel I could apply that money towards replacing the line and being done with it. Hmmm....

    I doubt the line is broken, because if it were, I would think as close to the ground as the line is, 3'-4', I would think seeping groundwater would have shown up and it doesn't, I also think I would still be having troubles and I'm not. It's probably just tree roots that caused my earlier problems, so with that are those easily manageable or if they are invading, is it best to just dig up and replace the line?

    I sure don't want to spend a few hundred dollars every year or two having someone come out and unplug my line and I sure as heck, don't want my toilets/tub backing up like they did the last time. I just got done spending thousands on a beautiful new bathroom. If it's just a matter of dumping something down my line every few months, that is one thing.....
  8. Nate R

    Nate R New Member

    Messages:
    472
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    RootX may be a good idea, then.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,253
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    pipe

    IT is clay with cement joints, which roots love to grow through. As roots grow they can crack the joints, which then allows bigger roots to grow. Only a camera inside the pipe can tell you its condition.
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