Broken Sewer Line

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by Anygirlx, May 14, 2014.

  1. Anygirlx

    Anygirlx New Member

    May 14, 2014
    Our drain in the basement backed up yesterday. We called Rotorooter and they couldn't have anyone out until tomorrow so we called a plumber. The plumber came in, ran a snake through the drain, and said we have a broken pipe. He pulled it out and it was all black and sludgey, sent a camera through and same thing all sludgey/muddy. He's quoted us $3900, so far, to replace the broken pipe.

    The thing is, about 10 years ago in a different house I had a similar problem. We called roto rooter and at the time we were concerned we would end up having to replace sewer line. It turned out that roto rooter did their thing and we were okay.

    I'm wondering, do you think if we had someone come out with more than just a snake, but with the thing that has the blades on it to chop up the roots, we could do with out the line replacement?

    We enrolled in the monthly insurance through the water company at the first of the year, but it turns out that only insures the water line. They actually have a separate insurance for the sewer line. Makes sense I guess but in my head we were getting insurance for all the pipes outside be it sewer or water. You live and learn! In the meantime if we just chop up the roots we could get the proper insurance. Thoughts?
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2013
    I would call a non-chain sewer company, and see what they say. Call it a second opinion. Paying for a second cleaning attempt sounds like a good choice of action. Maybe RotoRooter is good where you are. Maybe there is a better choice.

    You may get a better quote for the pipe replacement, or you might get a quote for a more extensive replacement while they are there. If you have clay, all of that should be replaced at least to the sidewalk and maybe beyond. If that is what the $3900 quote is for, it is probably a reasonable price. If you don't have an outside cleanout, it would be good to get that installed too.

    And while spending money, have any neighbors seen sewer backups in your neighborhood? Taking care of that at the same time could be smart.
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  4. dj2

    dj2 In the Trades

    Aug 13, 2013
    "The plumber came in, ran a snake through the drain, and said we have a broken pipe. He pulled it out and it was all black and sludgey, sent a camera through and same thing all sludgey/muddy. He's quoted us $3900, so far, to replace the broken pipe."

    Did you watch the plumber doing the cam check? If you did, did you see any roots?

    No roots - you most likely have a broken line. Replace it.

    I don't know how long and how deep your main sewer line is, but $3900 is probably reasonable.
  5. bob s

    bob s retired forgettful journeyman plumber

    Oct 31, 2012
    Retired and loving it
    Lower Michigan

    Let me just say this I was licensed journeyman plumber in michigan $3900.00 is a crock so to speak. unless its orangeberg which gets oval shaped after many years. This A "rip" of if i have ever seen one.Unless your sewer is quite long. Cleaning a line around here is example; 80'[my son had sewer put in] anything on street side of sidewalk, or so many feet of the city main sewer, paid by the twp county etc .Cameras are not what they say either,If your sewer cleaners blade comes back polished up[cutting blade on cable]Its probably broken sewer.Cameras make a sewer look awfully bad to the untrained eye. All i'm sayin is ASK ALOT OF questions before you lay out that much money. Did this years ago with my dad who had a thriving business kept all three of us boys, working til to of us became plumbers.We are all retired now hth bob s
    ps just repair [digging gets expensive right quick].the sewer pipe where its bad .Guarntee you don't need A whole sewer line.
  6. Will Rogers Plumbing

    Will Rogers Plumbing Plumbing Contractor

    Oct 8, 2010
    Plumbing Contractor
    Bixby, Ok

    I'm a Plumbing Contractor in the State of Oklahoma(Oklahoma's Master equivalent) who specializes in Sewer Service, Replacements, and Repairs. $3900 is not a rip off at all. It would depend on numerous situations that could change the price from job to job. No sewer is the same. There is access issues to consider like , landscaping, fencing, sidewalks, swimming pools, patios, etc. Not all sewers go out the front of homes. In the Oklahoma City metro 99% of all sewer exist the back of the building and tie into the city sewer in the easement. It is the Plumbers job to take the building drain stub out and install a new building sewer all the way to the city sewer and install a new tap. This could be a simple as digging only 6' or go as much as 20' or more. Shoring and specialty equipment to do this is not cheap. And we have to get are equipment into peoples back yards to do this. The bid could include tearing down fencing etc and putting it back up. Or the bid could include redoing landscaping and sod. I do sewers all the time over 100' long, some homes have more than 1 building drain stub out. I've done sewers for $2000 and they can go 3, 4, 5 or more times that amount.
  7. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Apr 27, 2012
    New York, NY
    A good hydrojetting guy can determine pretty quickly whether you have a broken pipe or not, and, if not, can get it nice and clean. If you have a broken pipe in just one location, it may be much more cost effective to isolate the location of the break and replace just that section (camera down to it, then insert snake to the camera location, charge the snake, isolate the location with a detector from above, then dig down).

    EDIT: Looking at HJ's response, I should make clear that that's why I recommended the hydrojetting guy. I have seen what happens when you try to send a camera down a muddy or sludgy pipe. The thing occludes very quickly and is useless pretty quickly. After a hydrojetting, it's clean enough to examine. (After an effective snaking, if that's possible, and running water through it, the same might be possible as well.)
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2014
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A camera would be completely useless in a "black and sludgy" line. THere is no way it could "look at' the inside of the pipe to see if it was damaged in any way. FIRST you have to get the line clear, and THEN see what a camera finds.
  9. jjwest

    jjwest Guest

    Our work to complete the broken sewer line development is expected according to the valuation of the service provider to complete within the next three months. And they consist of, paving, drain rainwater and sewage, pedestrian and connection to the electric grid..
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