Water Line Inside Sewer Pipe

Discussion in 'Illinois Plumbing Code Questions' started by rugoofy, May 1, 2011.

  1. rugoofy

    rugoofy New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Rockford, IL
    My neighbor had a new water line installed. When the company they hired pushed the water line through the ground they hit and broke my sewer line, which is actually a community sewer line that I share with at least one other neighbor. Since they had their water line installed I have been getting sewage backing up into my basement about once every 3-4 weeks. I've tried talking to my neighbor and the company that installed their water line but haven't gotten anywhere with them. The company that installed the water line says its not their fault because they didn't know the water line was there and my neighbor doesn't want to pay to get it fixed. Does anyone here have any suggestions for me? Can I go to the water department and get their water line condemned until they get it fixed? I'm not sure what I can do short of hiring a lawyer and sueing them so anything would help. thank you very much.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 31, 2013
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,248
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    I wouldn't be on the internet asking questions, I would be talking to the municipality. There are specific rules that govern the positioning of a potable water line in relation to a sanitary line, and it is apparent they did not follow them.
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,014
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The neighbor should repair any lines that were broken.
    It's his water service replacement that caused the damage.

    Reprinted from PSE

    What is a cross bore?

    When a gas line is installed or replaced, utilities commonly dig underground horizontally to avoid damaging existing surface structures, such as roads, sidewalks and landscaping. This installation method is more efficient and less invasive than open trenching.
    Unfortunately, due to unmarked sewer pipes, these installation methods can unknowingly cause a gas facility to be inserted through a sewer pipe. This is called a cross bore.
    Why is it important?

    Though cross bores are rare and pose almost no threat unless damaged, for example, by a sewer clearing machine, they do occur, and the danger they pose is real. If a sewer clearing machine damages a cross bore while attempting to remove a sewer blockage, natural gas could enter your home or business, posing a very serious safety issue.
    How do they happen?

    Cross bores happen because sewer lines are typically made of material that is difficult to detect by electronic locating equipment. Therefore, a contractor may inadvertently bore through an existing sewer line even after calling 811 Call Before You Dig and using a locating service to identify the underground utilities in the path.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  4. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    The first thing that is done before any excavating is to get locates for any underground services. If they did this and still hit something they are still liable to fix it.
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,014
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Locates don't establish where the sewer line to a property is.
    Only for things like
    Gas
    Electrical,
    Telephone
    Cable

    Locates don't find side sewers or water services.
    The contractor should fix the line where it has been broken, but the homeowner is contracting and paying for the work.
    Is the homeowner saying, Sorry, I hired a hack and now it's "your" problem?

    I can't imagine replacing someone's water service, drilling and ruining a sewer line by accident and then just leaving the job.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,350
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Unless you get immediate action to remedy this, I would urge you to contact an attorney. If there is need for legal action, to sooner the attorney has the case, the better. You should not have to fight this on your own. Trying to be Mr. Nice Guy and avoid hiring legal help is just asking for trouble.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,651
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I once had a job where the telephone company drilled their wire through a sewer, and they made the repair. NOT KNOWING where sewer lines are is a constant problem, as is drilling through them, but when it is done, whoever did it IS responsible for the repair. Here, you would call the Arizona Registrar of Contractors to "force" them to fix your sewer. (And if the did not, the state WOULD repair it, deduct the amount from the contractor's bond, then put them out of business until they repaid the amount), Illinois should have a similar agency.
  8. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    623
    Location:
    NC
    I do not think you could get his water line condemned because it is under pressure. If a hole comes in the water line, it will leak out ,not into the water line. If your sewer line is clogged, you have no choice but to snake it out. If his water line is in there and gets broken or mashed so what? Also it may be some other problem that just happened about the same time. Could just be a coincident and not their fault, unless you saw or know for sure they broke your sewer line.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,651
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I would snake the sewer with a rotary saw blade. IF the water line is through the sewer, then that would take care of that problem, and it would NOT be your responsibility because it was broken.
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,014
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If it's a plastic line, then a snake should be able to cut the line.
    The gas company ran their gas line through my mothers clay tile sewer line. When it was snaked, it cut the gas line. It was a lot of fun after that for the gas company.

    [​IMG]

    This was the high pressure plastic line before the pressure reducer.
    Lucky for my mother, was that the plumber was using an outside cleanout.
    Otherwise, the home could have filled up with gas and exploded.

    http://pse.com/safety/NaturalGasSafety/Pages/Blocked-Sewer.aspx
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    They are lucky they didn't end up building her a new house...

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2014
  12. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Helloooo!

    Calling RUGOOFY - are you still here?
  13. rugoofy

    rugoofy New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Rockford, IL
    Thanks for all the replies. They did contact J.U.L.I.E. and the sanitation dept. but the sanitation dept. didn't know where the sewer lines were at. Terry - They have basically said that since your the one getting the sewage in your basement and we're not it's your problem. It is a plastic water line but instead of crossing the sewer pipe it runs in the same direction as the pipe for about 2-3 ft. then goes back out making it difficult to break the line. I like the rotary blade idea. I might try that the next time I clean it out. I've had it cleaned out 7 times now but the water line is still intact. One thing I forgot to mention is that the sewer line is a community sewer line with 3 houses connected to it. Mine is the lowest lying house on the line and of course the person who had the water line installed is the highest. I have contacted a lawyer in case it has to go that far and have contacted the property standards dept. for Rockford, IL. to see if I can get the city to shut their water off. and hj I'm looking to see if Illinois has something similar to the Arizona Registrar of contractors.
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,651
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Gas lines through sewer lines are becoming a problem for sewer cleaners. And when you cut one you have to be "quick" to exit the house and take everyone in it with you because as soon as the gas reaches an ignition source the house is going to "GO" away.
  15. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    A blade like this one should do a nice job of cleaning your sewer...

    [​IMG]
  16. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    The problem is how do you really know that the sewer line is damaged? If you sue and you are wrong, you will have a huge bill to pay.
  17. Allen W McFay

    Allen W McFay New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Georgia
    Use a camera snake?
  18. rugoofy

    rugoofy New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Rockford, IL
    I know that the water line is in the sewer pipe because I had a plumber put a camera snake in the sewer line and it showed a hole about 2-3 ft long and you could see the water line the entire length of the hole. When i had the camera put inn the sewer line the contractor that had the water line installed was there and admitted to doing it but said its not her fault because she had no way of knowing that it was there because both j.u.l.i.e. and the sanitation dept. didn't tell her about it.
  19. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Tell it to the judge - She will get a quick education in digging and fixing.
  20. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,014
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If you were to take this to small claims court, I would think you would get a judgment that would comp you for the repair.
    It's quick and easy, and you don't need a lawyer. Then you could find a plumber that could fix the problem once and for all.

    However, there must not be any lawyers that read this stuff, or perhaps it's just that lawyers don't give it out for free.
    When my father was living, I could just ask him.
    My simple course of action would be small claims, pick up the judgment money and continue on. Course it may not be that simple.
    Read this little nugget from the Seattle area to find out how crazy neighbors can get.

    Little crazy story about neighbors.
    Neighbor's dispute escalates into all-out legal war
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