Do "roots in the sewer in the past" require disclosure?

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Imagine a house with a cast iron sewer pipe connected to the town's PVC pipe at the property line. Imagine - in the past - roots finding their way into the junction of the 2 pipes and causing a partial blockage every couple of years. The evidence was a gurgling basement toilet when an upper floor toilet was flushed. A power snake would solve the problem for a couple of years.
Now imagine that for the last five years the owner has been using RootX on an annual basis and he hasn't had any problem with blockages or gurgling toilets. Obviously he doesn't know if the RootX is keeping the roots at bay or if they just stopped entering the pipe for some reason. The only way he would know for sure is if he stopped using the RootX and waited a couple of years to see if they came back. That's not something he's willing to test. The minor inconvenience of using RootX once a year gives him peace of mind.
Finally, fast forward into the future and imagine the owner putting the house on the market 5, 10, maybe 15 years from now. Does he have to disclose that 10, 15, or even 20 years ago (depending on when he puts the house on the market) he used to get roots in the pipe? Does he have to disclose that he uses RootX once a year as a "peace of mind" exercise?
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One data point would be to look up the specific law and/or disclosure form that is required where the house is located. NJ has a form the seller must fill out and it has a long list of specific items and questions. Last time I looked, it was really dumb, like what an elementary school kid would put together. Questions like, "Have any repairs been made to the roof?" So, if you replaced one shingle in 1994, you're apparently required to disclose that. I guess houses should have a log book like an airplane.....
If a question like that is on the list for where the house is located, what exactly that question is and what it requires would be very important.
Beyond that, I don't know. It's an interesting question. I don't necessarily buy the fact that roots are routine maintenance. Painting the house, cleaning gutters, that's routine maintenance. A sewer system with root intrusion is not normal and the problem is significant. In his case, they were known to exist and to recur. I would tend to say it's something that needs to be disclosed.
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wrote:

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If I knew that ice dams were known to exist and known to recur, but have since stopped being a problem after the roof, insulation and ventilation were upgraded, would I still need to disclose that the house had serious ice dam problems prior to the upgrade?
That would be one of those situations where you really don't know if the problem has been fixed until it happens again. At that point you'll know that it *hasn't* been fixed. It's not like it's something you can test.
In other words, a specific set of conditions has to be in place for the ice dam to cause water infiltration, so not having infiltration since the upgrade might mean the roofing upgrade solved the problem or it might mean that the specific set of conditions has not yet reoccurred.
One could argue that a specific set of circumstances has to exist for roots to enter the pipe, so one wouldn't know if it was the RootX or the lack of the specific conditions that has eliminated the issue. I was told by a guy from a plumbing company 2 winters ago they had very few calls for frozen pipes due to the mild weather, but that they expected a very busy spring dealing with roots for the same reason. The roots didn't get the water they needed from the snow melt, so they will go looking for it elsewhere. My point is that roots can be an ongoing problem but could also stop being a problem for different reasons - RootX or Mother Nature.
Granted, I am aware that in this case the owner has been using RootX for a number of years, and I guess someone could track down the purchase records as proof that the owner hid the fact that he had been "fighting" roots for many years. I guess it would depend on how long after the house changed hands that the root problem showed up again - assuming that it was the RootX that kept them at bay.
What is the statute of limitations on disclosures? Can the buyer come back 3 springs later if he has a partial blockage due to roots and fight for compensation?
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A quick google shows that it's probably 3 years in CT, at least. Probably varies from state to state.
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2006/rpt/2006-R-0585.htm
But obviously that aside, the longer it goes, in general the less likely the buyer is to prevail. But then again, the roots thing is a recurrent problem that takes a while to develop. It's not like a leaking roof, which you'd expect would be found quickly.
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On Thu, 04 Apr 2013 10:36:54 -0700, Oren wrote:

I know of someone who was sued, and lost - but then won on appeals, that they "knew or SHOULD have known" (emphasis mine) that the 80-year-old septic system was about to crumble.
It's a long story, but they reason the lower court said they 'should' have known was that they had it pumped out once in the five years they owned the 80-year old bungalow.
The travesty of the moronic lower-court judge was overturned by the higher appellate court, who ruled unanimously that homeowners in that state (NJ) would never sleep at night after selling a home if they were subject to the Draconian "should have known" rules that the lower court had arbitrarily decided upon.
In hindsight, it's clear that the judge, who was being reprimanded for other grievances, was trying to make a name for herself. Luckily, the system worked - albeit it was slow - painful - and expensive to overturn the rulings of a judge who had her own agenda.
So, after about two years of the slow legal process, everything was set right (except, of course, legal costs - which were a loss on one side as the other side was on a pay-if-you-win situation.
What lesson would the OP learn from this?
To each his own, but, to me, the lesson for the OP is: * Better to disclose what you know, than to fight it in court later.
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While I tend to agree, disclosing things that don't (legally) need to be disclosed can cost money that otherwise might not have been spent.
I can imagine a buyer saying "replace the sewer pipe or I'm walking". That's many thousands of dollars for a repair that might otherwise not be needed, especially if it wasn't flagged during the inspection.
If something gets disclosed then by definition, it's a "problem" and needs to be dealt with to the buyer's satisfaction.
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Any chance of getting rid of the tree that is the source of the roots? If the tree were gone, then you've largely eliminated the problem. I say largely, because with a truly intact sewer system, roots couldn't get in. So, something isn't quite right, right?
And as you say, once you start down the disclosure path, even if the tree is gone, once the buyer knows, then they may say that the roots getting in is really secondary to the sewer not being in proper condition, being old, starting to fail, etc. And they want it replaced.
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wrote:

The tree belongs to a neighbor.

Well, here's where things get a little messy, but I'm sure the homeowner has no recourse.
I don't know exactly when, but many years ago the town came through and dug up everyone's easement (?) and replaced the cast iron with PVC at the property lines. (The town owns about 10' of everyone's front yard). They also installed a PVC cleanout so that they didn't have to go into basements anymore if someone called the town about a blocked sewer. They would snake from the cleanout to street and if that solved the problem, good. If not, it was the homeowner's problem to deal with the cast iron section. To be more specific, it is the homeowner's problem to deal with anything from the cleanout back towards the house.
OK, so picture a PVC cleanout similar to this, with the "flow" pipe being the homeowner's cast iron sewer and the rest being the town's PVC.
http://extension.missouri.edu/explore/images/wq0402art4b.jpg
The town considers the junction of the cast iron "flow" pipe and the PVC cleanout to be "before the cleanout" and therefore the homeowner's responsibility. The homeowner told me that the town brought over a scope the last time he had a partial blockage (5 years ago). It showed that the town's section was clear and that the roots were coming in at the junction of the PVC and the cast iron. So, even though the town could be blamed for causing the problem, they also claim that it is the homeowner's problem to fix it.
The homeowner snaked the piped, cleared the blockage and has been using RootX ever since.
The other night we were chatting about our houses and the discussion of "if you were to sell, what would you disclose" came up. he told me about his sewer and that's what prompted this question.

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DerbyDad03 wrote:

I spent the years between 1940 and 1950 in Lynbrook, New York. (on Long Island) We had cesspools dug in our front lawns. these were bottle shaped chambers about 15 feet deep by 10 feet in diameter, with concrete covers aroud 4 feet in diameter and a couple of feet under the lawn that were lined with concrete blocks with popenings through them for water to seep through. All of our sewage went into these things, and they were pumped out periodically when they got full and didn;t work any more. The trucks that pumped them out brought the sewage to a treatment plant somewhere, just as sewer systems today take it through pipes to these same plants. At the plant, it received, "primary" treatment before it was pumped into the ocean where, (supposedly) it didn't harm the environment.
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..and this little story applies to the current thread ...wait for it... how?
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On 4/5/13 1:46 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Some people have a problem providing too much disclosure. The appropriate response is "Thanks for sharing."
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The EPA has strict rules about sewage flow, during rain it cant exceed twice the normal flow, or something like that.
sewage rates are tripling their old rate to meet the new requirements,
currently sewage costs far more than water
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wrote:

I think that deserves a citation. Note that many communities (including NYC) only have one sewer system.

Maybe where you live.
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snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

Newer cities usually have a seperaqte sewer and storm drainage system. but in the older ones, sometimes this isn't the case, and during heavy rains, the system becomes overloaded with water, and the sewage treatment plant has to be bypassed, and the water allowed to go in the river, lake, or ocean without treatment. (information only.... I was almost a sewage treatment plant operator before I became an engineer)
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wrote:

Again, you state the obvious.
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snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

It may be obvious to you, but in my experience, many people don;t know that the sewer system and the storm drainage system are, or should be two seperwate systems, and when they are not, heavy rains can stop the sewage treatment plantss from working.
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I got the tour from my brother many times. I'm not sure here, but the other borough made their rounds checking all houses for proper exits. I just had some interior work done. Always wondered how it was piped. Originally had septic and clean water, which I guess the clean water went into the yard, and clean water from roof. Im sure Pittsburgh let's the flood gates open, but improvements were on the way. I pay a little less than 50% of my water bill for sewage.
Greg
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On Apr 5, 4:44 pm, snipped-for-privacy@attt.bizz wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegheny_County_Sanitary_Authority
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Alcosan isnt all of allegheny county, just a part of it.
I live in mc candless, and our sewage is treated by the MTSA mc candless twp sanitary authority. They replaced a mile or so of main line some years ago in front of my home, the job took all summer. It was root infested terracota.
the line turns and runs between me and a neighbor, and because residents didnt follow the rules runs under a 20 by 20 foot shed in another neighbors yard, and under a large fancy patio....
neither of which had a building permit or they wouldnt be allowed.......
The sanitary authority tells me the line is as much as 15 feet deep because of where it goes, and it was installed around 1949.
Replacing this section of just over 300 feet will cost a fortune, and the neighbor with the offending shed and patio threatened legal action. The sanitary company wanted the owner to pay restoration costs.
I had a fence erected along the area and had no choice but to agree to pay removal and restoration if work on the line is necessary
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wrote:

We pay for our water twice - in and out. Sewage charge is currently equal to the water charge but it is going up, and we are also paying a stormwater management fee as well.
In Canada
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