Sewer Cleanout Line/Sewer Line Repair Plans. How fearful should I be?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Tim McGlinn, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. Tim McGlinn

    Tim McGlinn New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2019
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Hello and thank you for operating this blog.

    About 15 years ago, our (new) plumber advised me to get a protection plan for our nearly 100 year old house. This seemed sensible. I took the form to work where it sat on my desk for 10 days, at which point our main water line failed. After replacing the water line for $3000 (I think, it was a long time ago), I decided to sign up for the Sewer protection program. I figured I would be safe with the water line for at least a few decades...so far so good there.

    About $2000 (and 15 years) after that, our Sewer line got clogged this morning. The washer (in the basement) was draining and instead the water came up through the shower drain in the basement. For a $50 service fee (for realz), NJ American Water sent out a crew to clear the drain, which they seemed to do--they ran a snake at least 75 feet from drain shown in the images.

    when they were leaving, I noticed what could be called a flap (I think they may have called it a valve) that is under the cap that you screw off (see picture). First they said that they did not know where it came from. But I knew that it wasn't there before. The plumber then said that it was not necessary and initially he thought that it was broken. MVIMG_20190325_193147.jpg MVIMG_20190325_193115.jpg MVIMG_20190325_193147.jpg

    I think he was wrong on both counts. First, it seems to me that this would (or at least could) prevent water from backing up into the shower, as happened this morning. Second, it seems not broken--it sort of lifts up not unlike an old beer stein with a lid if you press on one side. Finally, it could function as a trap of sorts, though i guess there are traps in the toilet, sink, and shower that all drain in this way.

    Apologies for the longwinded explanation, but my questions/concerns are this:

    1. Was the plumber wrong? is this part superfluous?
    2. If the part does serve a purpose, is the purpose (or one purpose) to keep water from backing up into the bathroom drains?
    3. is there a way to assess my future risk of another sewer back up? The guys said they think they pushed something out using the snake and i Have no reason not to believe them. This is the first time that this has happened in 15 years in the house. We have not planted any new trees, and the ones in our yard are mature.
    4. Relatedly, I am thinking that we should cancel the sewer maintenance service ($12/month). In the case of my main line fail 15 years ago, the repair required was basically a total replacement. In the case of sewer pipes, total failures seem much more rare. I asked the plumbers on the job, and they said that a real (properly expensive) repair is called for less than 1 time in 50. Mostly they just come out and snake it. I also asked them what they would have charged me if I were just paying cash, and they said about $250. When I take into account that i paid $50 for them to show up, I would need to have a call every 15 months in order to be breakeven on the sewer insurance. This sounds like a great deal for them, not me. We have the financial resources to pay for a new line if we need one.

    Huge thanks in Advance for any advice/feedback.

    Tim in NJ
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Is the city sewer off to the right in your picture? I suspect that is a flap to stop sewer backup from the street continuing into the shower etc. If that is the case, you would see water come from under the flap when you drained water in the house. I have not seen one like that.

    Flaps don't typically actually stop backups, because they leak. Some solids tend to make the flap not close all of the way.

    I am not a plumber.
     
    Tim McGlinn likes this.
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
    Tim McGlinn likes this.
  4. JerseyShore

    JerseyShore New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey
    FWIW, New Jersey Manufacturer's has a $39 a year waterline and sewer insurance policy. Works out to $3.25 per month. $10,000 coverage and you can pick your own contractor. You need to be a NJM policyholder . I just put in a new water line, but kept the NJM coverage.
     
    Tim McGlinn likes this.
  5. Tim McGlinn

    Tim McGlinn New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2019
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Thank you Jersey Shore. That's incredible and underscores just how much NJ American Water makes on these service contracts.
     
  6. Tim McGlinn

    Tim McGlinn New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2019
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Reach4: You may not be a plumber, but you are a 'well known member'. Yes, the city sewer is off to the right, and the water from the basement bathroom would flow in from the left and under the flap. If said flap were there to stop sewage coming up from the street, wouldn't it do the same if there were a blockage on the way to the street (as seems to have been the case)?

    And yes i can see that it might not close all the way based on messing around with it. Thanks tim
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I think in that case it would have little effect. With a blockage, the stuff that comes out of lower drains came from higher drains in the same house. That drainage would not have to pass through the white check valve.
     
Similar Threads: Sewer Cleanout
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Sewer Cleanout Cap? May 4, 2020
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Help Needed Identifying Strange Sewer Cleanout (?) Apr 30, 2017
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice What to do with sewer cleanout Nov 9, 2016
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Sewer cleanout (and cover) in concrete Jul 31, 2016
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Sewer cleanout cover right next to pine tree Nov 18, 2014

Share This Page