Sewer pipe failing - suggestions?

A week ago, on of my neighbors had his sewer back up into his
basement. His house was built at the same time as mine (about 90 years
ago). My wife pretty much ordered me to do whatever it takes to
prevent this from happening here. Coincidentally, I received a coupon
from a plumber for a $39 camera inspection of my sewer pipe. THAT is a
very good price, I know people who have paid over $200 for that
service.
So, the guy came, and he was friendly, knowledgeable and thorough. He
spent over two hours looking and explaining. Long story short, the
pipe is fucked. There are no tree roots, but there are major deposits
and lots of rust. It's likely that the pipe is paper thin along its
bottom. There's standing water in some places (though not very deep),
and when he pulled out the camera, there was dirt (like dirt from the
ground) on it.
Digging is not a very good option, as there is a large (and I mean
LARGE) tree at the curb line, right above the pipe. Either the tree
would have to go or they would have to open the street, which runs
into over $10K just for the permits and insurance and paying two cops
$65/hr to direct traffic (we see maybe ten cars a day on my street),
The other option is to hydro-blast the crud out - they can vary the
pressure from 10Kpsi to 50Kpsi which will leave the pipe clean and
even more fragile. Then they would reline it with this stuff:
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leaves about a 3/16" very smooth plastic wall inside the pipe.
This involves jackhammering in two places in my basement - one to
bypass the whole-house trap wich is no longer required by code, and
the other to gain access to the pipe just past the main stack. There
is no digging required outside.
All this comes with a lifetime warranty, transferrable once, and a
price tag of $7700. It takes a full day (he says there are three
trucks and six people here all day), and then its done.
Good idea? Bad idea? Run like hell?
Reply to
rangerssuck
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I haven't read anything in the responses so far that addresses your primary concern -> a sewer backup into your house.
So I will be the first one here to point out a device known as a "backflow preventer".
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Sometimes called a "backwater valve"
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You could have this installed regardless of the condition of the rest of the line going to the road. Any sewage backup would presumably not be able to infiltrate your basement through any holes or cracks in your existing pipe, and the backflow preventer would block any sewage from getting past your primary drain connection.
(strange cross-posting -> between rec.crafts.metalworking and alt.home.repair... Why?)
Reply to
Home Guy
a) the crossposting is not so strange. You'd be surprised at the number of people who frequent both groups. Now, had I sent this to misc.surivalism (where, it seems, many of the rcm people spend their lives), THAT would have been strange.
b) The backflow preventer may be a good idea, except it doesn't prevent my toilet flushings from ending up in my laundry sink; and it would still require jackhammering to access the pipe. I don't think that there's a back-up problem with the municipal sewer. It's one of the few things around here that actually does get regular maintenance.
Reply to
rangerssuck
Where did you get the price for replacing the sewer line? Cops redirecting no traffic where a couple cones or horses would do sounds Kafkaesque. Are you dead set on keeping the tree? How much to remove the tree? Maybe you should do some more pricing on line replacement. $7700 is a big hit for something that seems "makeshift" to me. Seems like you might be moving too fast, and you should do more homework with other sewer companies.
Reply to
Vic Smith
I feel for you.
The best I can say is that the general rule for things like that is to get three estimates. That usually gives you enough information to know if someone is way too low and likely to do a bad job. And enough information to know if someone is way too high for what is involved.
You might also check Angie's list too.
Tell your wife that you want to get three estimates and that it is unlikely to fail in the next couple of weeks while you figure out the best thing to do.
Dan
Reply to
dcaster
I think you may have a number of different possible options depending on exactly what your setup is now.
One thing to consider is sewer line insurance. I have a number of properties and I don't have sewer line insurance on any of them except one. The one where I have insurance has a setup that is similar to yours -- meaning that the sewer line runs out to the center of the street, but right at the curb and right above the sewer line, is a HUGE oak tree. If I ever have to replace the sewer line, I expect the tree to be a big deal and make the cost very high. So, I signed up for sewer line insurance that is offered through (I think) my local water company (maybe American Water). It isn't the greatest insurance in terms of what it covers, including that there is a cap of something like $5,000 for sewer line replacement if that is needed. But, it also only costs maybe $10-$12 per month for the insurance.
The rest of the options depend on how/where your sewer line runs, how far underground it is, how far it is from your house to the curb, whether there is a curb vent for your sewer line, where in the line the video saw the most damage, whether your sewer line is visible and accessible from within your basement and if so how high up off the floor it is, and whether there are any floor drains, sinks, toilets, etc. in your basement now.
If you post back some of that information, and maybe what State you are in, I may be able to offer some specific suggestions. I recently had to figure some of the same stuff on a couple of different properties.
Reply to
TomR
=A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0Dan
You might want to get an estimate from someone who is outside of your local area if you decide to line the sewer pipe. Maybe contact the Perma-liner company in Colorado for recommendations of someone else to contact. And maybe do an internet search for other companies that sell systems to reline pipes.
=20 Dan
Reply to
dcaster
You didn't say that you were experiencing (or anticipating) a problem where an upstairs flush would overflow a basement sink.
What else do you think will prevent a sewage backup into your house?
Having sewer pipes that are in excellent condition and sized correctly does not prevent sewage backup into your house. Only a backflow preventer does that.
You stated right off the bat that your neighbor had a sewer backup, and that you (or your wife) did not want that happening in your house.
A sewer backup is not normally the result of improper or infrequent maintainence.
It's the result of an acute failure somewhere in the sewer system, or caused by a lot of rain or local flooding.
Reply to
Home Guy
I haven't seen anyone mention it, but so the plumber doesn't need to dig outside? Then when he is done YOU will need to dig outside, so that you can waterproof the exterior of your basement again where he jack hammered it. jk
Reply to
jk
I suspect that 90 year old piping will need to be replaced. The question is when. Do you do it at your convenience or do you wait until the dead of winter when there is snow on the ground to do it? My luck would be that it would completely fail on Dec 23rd when a big family get together is underway. BTW, around here, south Louisiana, it costs $150 to get the camera. Just went through that. I wonder if you can dig the yard up until you get close to the tree, then slip a 3" pipe inside the 4" to extend to the city main and then replace everything back to the house. Murphy taught me many years ago that anything will happen at the worst possible time so I try to at least get the jump on Murphy when I can. BTW, three estimates makes sense before you agree to do anything serious. I have no doubt that the plumber you called is more than willing to raise his prices because he thinks he has you over a barrel.
Reply to
Gerry
That sounded pretty crazy to me too. $10,000 just for permits and cops to direct traffic on a street that sees 10 cars a day? Where on earth is this place? NYC? I'm left wondering if that "number" came from the company selling the $7700 relining service.
I wonder if another option would be to run the pipe out to the meet the sewer at a different location and sealing off the other one? They would probably still have to dig down at the old location, but just a pit to get to the connection and seal it. And it would keep the new pipe away from the tree.
I would definitely get more companies out there to get ideas and estimates. I'd also carefully read the lifetime guarantee from the relining company. And find out who stands behind the guarantee, how long they've been in business, etc. A lifetime guarantee full of loopholes from a local company that's only been in business 5 years ain't worth much.
It's also amazing that if there is a large tree on top of the line, it hasn't compromised the pipe. Which gets me back to the re-lining warranty. Anything in there about the warranty being void if they attribute the failure 3 years from now to the tree?
Reply to
trader4
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which leaves about a 3/16" very smooth plastic wall inside the pipe.
Last summer I paid less than $1500 to have the septic tank pumped out, crushed, and replaced with about 50' of pipe to the town sewer stub at my street property line.
Could you excavate the easy part outside and have them line only the inaccessible pipe, which might be an easier (cheaper) straight shot from the open trench?
jsw
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
I have a somewhat similar situation at a property that I own (regarding a huge oak tree at the curb right above the sewer line), although my sewer line is still good. But, if the sewer line does end up needing to be replaced, I was thinking of the same option -- moving the sewer line away from the tree and connecting it to the main sewer at a different point a few feet away.
In my situation, I too am amazed that the sewer line hasn't already been compromised or destroyed by the huge tree right above it. It seems like a problem waiting to happen, which is why I opted for buying sewer line insurance for just this one property (I don't have it on any other property) -- just in case.
Reply to
TomR
It might be worthwhile to do a search for "trenchless repair" and "pipe bursting". For a pipe in soil it's not a big deal to drag a new pipe in via a leader cable threaded through the old pipe. So long as the old pipe is in soil and not built material the scheme is fairly simple and works.
Lining pipes costs diameter and is used when they're too big or in rigid structures, like old masonry.
I had a pipe under a patio and a big tree replaced, about $100 per foot but that was better than digging, which would have destroyed both the tree and the patio.
Hope this helps,
bob prohaska
Reply to
User Bp
If my pipe to the street, or something else downstream, clogs and the backflow preventer closes off the pipe, and I flush an upstairs toilet, where is that water going to go?
Reply to
rangerssuck
rangerssuck used improper usenet message composition style by unnecessarily full-quoting:
The backflow preventer is a one-way valve. It allows waste water to drain away from your house into the sewer, but snaps shut when waste water wants to flow from the sewer into your house.
If your local sewer pipes are full of water that's not flowing properly (ie - if the sewer system is full of waste water that's not moving away from your house but instead is just stagnant) then you're going to notice it probably because of a sink or shower or dishwasher or washing machine that's not draining.
Whether you discover that your sewer pipes are clogged because of a toilet flush or some other water discharge depends on the percentage of water your household uses to flush the toilet vs any other water usage that puts water down your drain system.
The OP wasn't clear (and still hasn't clarified) if he is concerned about a sewage backup into his house, or a waste-water drain problem *inside* (or outside) his house.
The OP started this thread by mentioning that his neighbor had some sort of waste-water / sewage issue, but hasn't explained if that problem would have been prevented by (a) a backflow preventer, or (b) clearing a blockage in the sewer pipe inside (or outside) the house.
Reply to
Home Guy
"rangerssuck" wrote If my pipe to the street, or something else downstream, clogs and the backflow preventer closes off the pipe, and I flush an upstairs toilet, where is that water going to go?
Where would it go if the pipe was clogged without a backflow preventer?
jsw
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Thanks, Dan. That's good advice. Also, the plumber who did the camera work and gave the $7700 quote was from Angie's list. The $40 camera work was an Angie's list "big deal."
Reply to
rangerssuck
LOL that's what I was thinking too. The backflow preventer is there to protect against waste water flowing into the house from the sewer system. That can happen when there is some unusual problem, ie the municipal sewer gets flooded with rainwater, clogged, etc. Then with no backflow preventer you could have your basement fill up with sewage through floor drains, laundry sinks, or even worse, it might come out the first floor drains....
If the pipe gets clogged, then flushing a toilet with or without the backflow preventer should produce the same result.
Reply to
trader4

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