Garberators Effect on Sewer Pipes

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What's the general opinion about garberators and the effect they have on a house's sewer system. I have the sneaking suspicion that our garberator is the root of a "slow" sewer system which seems to need continual cleaning of "grease". The garberator gets mostly vegetable scraps. We're very careful about putting most things where they ought to be (bacon fat in a can, solvents to the recycling depot etc...).
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wrote:

plumbers crew clean out the main sewer line 3 or more times a year because it would start to run slow around 2-3 months after they left (imagine the cost!)
"Soap scum and grease" was their diagnosis. I had them do the camera thing (what a nightmare!) and there was nothing obvious other than some roots. But the camera guy was different from the cleanout guys; they came on different days.
I was baffled because I couldn't figure out where so much alleged scum and grease was coming from. Based on what I know goes on in the house, it simply didn't make any sense.
Finally, I got a referral to a sewer specialist (no plumbing, just cleaning sewers) who also had a camera but he used it to guide his trimming the roots as much as he could (trim, check, trim, check...). It did take a while before he was satisfied he'd done as much as he could.
He's my hero :> It's been almost a year and I haven't had any trouble, knock on wood.
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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Curly Sue wrote:

So tree roots was the problem? Would he put the camera in first? Then trim then check, then repeat the cycle. I've got my plumber guys both coming in today to 4 p.m. with the rooter and the camera to see what's going on. It been an on-going problem for the last year and a half. When they were here two weeks ago they clean my main and one branch of my system but neglected to clean the second branch (I have a two stack system) and sure enough branch number two is showing the tell tale signs of being plugged or slow.
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wrote:

The original plumber guys simply were not clearing enough of the roots (tree or shrub). They cleaned until it ran free, but they couldn't see what they were doing because they didn't have the camera.
When I saw the situation with the second guy's camera, the original guys had made a nice neat (small-medium) hole in the roots which were growing in from the pipe. Using the camera as a guide, the second guy made a much bigger passageway; he couldn't shave the pipe clean but apparently it was enough. Note: the first guys didn't pull out a skein of roots because that wasn't the problem after the first year. It was the stiffer roots growing in toward the center of the pipe that seemed to be catching stuff ("soap scum"? "grease"?), like a lint catcher.
I was also very unhappy with the way the first company charged me for the camera work, but that's another story :>
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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unless you like paying each year, why don't you just fix the hole? it's only going to get worse.
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On Tue, 1 Mar 2005 12:48:23 -0700, "Charles Spitzer"

referring was what the water flows through from the house to the sewer, not a hole in the pipe.
As to the root penetration, the cost of replacing the sewer main is much, much greater than giving the roots a haircut once a year. It would be a 30-year payback. Neither plumber nor sewer guy suggested replacing it at this time.
Maybe someday, but hopefully quite a ways off. :>
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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What would the payback be if the toilet backup into the house? (Hint: I had to replace the bathroom floor, replace the bedroom carpet and underlayment on my rental.)
Now you know where the penetration is so just dig out that portion, repair/replace and kill the root shouldn't cost that much relative to replacing the whole main run. I did it myself 10 years ago and no problems so far. Cost for parts was almost nothing, just a lot of digging since I didn't know where the penetration was without the benefit of a camera, and some cutting.
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I guess that would depend on where your fixtures are. If my toilet backs up, it won't be because the sewer is running slow. The backup will appear first in the sump. I will know about it looong before it gets to that point. It doesn't happen all of a sudden; it's gradual and I have a water alarm in the sump. Besides, it's a low-flow toilet.

contractors used a backhoe and ended up with a 6' pile of dirt. There's no way I could move that much earth myself, even if I knew how to fix a sewer pipe. Which I don't.
I appreciate the advice, but I had two separate contractors do camera work and neither indicated that the section should be replaced.
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On Tue, 01 Mar 2005 22:09:07 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nyc.rr.com (Curly Sue) wrote:

You did good.
About how much does camera work cost?
PJ
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I had it done twice...
First contractor. Short answer: $300. Long story: This is the company I'd been using for a while. The cleanout guys came and cleaned the sewer. I paid. I decided that I'd had enough and wanted the camera work to find out what was wrong. So I arranged to have it done, by this company, two days later. Quoted price: $300. The camera guy starts and finds out that there was "soap scum" and "grease" (already) and he had to clean it out. But is going to charge me $75 extra per foot (to the obstruction). 2 ft =$150. Does the camera work, then writes up the bill, putting down the "end time" as the time when he finished writing the bill (which took 10 min or so). So I called the boss right then and there and gave him hell for charging me for re-cleaning the drain and not telling me that until the guy was in the middle of the project, plus charging me for the time it took the guy to write up the bill. He gave me some sob story about having to reclaim the cost of the video equipment (Why is that my problem???) but reduces the price. Sends video and report (nothing remarkable or that would explain the problem). In a few months, it's running slow again.
Second guy. Short answer: $250. Long story. After a few more times of having the other guys clean out the sewer, I called a sewer company highly recommended by one of the plumbers at work, thinking that I'd have to replace the sewer main. They don't do diagnostics, but recommended this guy who has a camera. If he says I need it, we'll go from there. He comes with camera, cleans out the drain, and 10 months later, still no problem. (I also got the video, very popular with visitors :>) He says he'll give the roots a trim once a year for $200. That's about normal for this area, in contrast to 4 times a year with that other company.
Anyway, with the camera, be careful about "extra" costs.
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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Curly Sue wrote:

When I had my pipe TV'd, they made clear when I set up the appointment that there would be a flat-rate charge for the video eqpt, plus an hourly charge which would of course increase if they needed to clean the pipe again to get the camera past an obstruction.

A business passes all costs onto the customer, unless they are somehow able to make money without having customers (in which case I want some of that action too). He probably reduced the price because he felt your complaint was legitimate that you were not made clear beforehand what the charges would be.
Some business owners like to amortize the costs of specialized equipment over the customers who actually require the use of that equipment, and some customers like it that way. For instance, if I hire a plumber just to sweat some pipes, I don't want to be paying a surcharge for the backhoe he happens to own, but if I need a lateral rehabilitated, I understand that it's reasonable to "rent" his backhoe. For about the same total price (or higher) I have the option of hiring a plumber who doesn't have a backhoe and hiring a separate excavator.
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On 2 Mar 2005 10:40:41 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net wrote:

Of course. But that should be included in the price quoted, not used to excuse bloated fees added later. If he gives me a price for doing a video inspection, one would reasonably expect that a video camera will be used. And considering that $300 is quite a price for 30 minutes of work that's not rocket science, I would hope that the camera is included.
I just thought the guy was tacky to give me (a customer) a sob story about recouping the cost of the camera. I wish I could recoup the cost of all of the ineffective sewer cleanings they did for me!
Well, I'm not having them clean the sewer any more. They also charged too much (IMO) to change a valve on my radiator. They were pleasant though, and did come quickly when called.
Sue(tm) Lead me not into temptation... I can find it myself!
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There are also chemical treatments that you can pour down the drain that help reduce future root intrusion but you may want to check into any ecolocical consiquence first.
Another cause for slow draining is failure to run the water long enough after grinding the garbage. You need to run it long enough for the stuff to get to the big pipe.
If you ever do replace the pipe, remember, plumbers can be very destructive to your landscape. My job was a nightmare. 3 weeks, $2000 and they still left me with a hole and a broken retaining wall that took me 3 more weeks and $500 more to repair.

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Curly Sue wrote:

You have to take into account that the roots continuing to grow into the pipe will greatly shorten its life expectancy. Once you have a catastrophic failure, your options for repair become more limited. Also your house will be uninhabitable till you get a repair, and that cost has to be considered.
I had a bad root problem. We were lucky that I happened to be puttering in the basement each time the overflow occurred such that it was quickly minimized and nothing of value was damaged, however I considered the real possibility that we'd not be so lucky in the future.
Like you I did a cost/benefit/payback analysis. Once it got to 4 clogs per year, I placed a value of $500 on each clog just for the disruption to the family for not being able to wash dishes, flush, brush and shower on the normal schedule (which had repercussions on our jobs) and the inconvenience of cleanup.
We had a video camera analysis, and based on the sizes of the roots in the pipe I figured we didn't didn't have more than 2 years before one of the terracotta pipe sections split and collapsed, necessitating a costly and disruptive trenching operation. So I added the cost of losing trees and shrubbery and relandscaping to the cost of "riding it out" instead of replacing it now, because those were avoidable costs. I came up with the result that replacement within a month or two was the most cost-effective, using one of the following technologies:
http://www.zoompower.com/bursting.htm http://www.perma-liner.com/lateral.html
Note: Both above technologies need to feed something through the existing pipe, which is not possible once the pipe is collapsed. After a collapse, there is no option but to dig out the collapsed portion.
I had the pipebursting one done. Replaced 10 ft of cast iron and 50 ft of badly rooted terracotta. The new lateral will probably outlast the house.
Both of those links above show a pit dug next to the house. In my case, it made more sense to cut the slab floor of the basement so as to pass the new pipe under the foundation. That was a 4 ft deep hole, as opposed to 12' deep in the front yard.
To research this yourself, search terms for Google are
sewer lateral trenchless no-dig pipe-bursting relining cured-in-place liner CIPP
in various combinations.
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Thanks for the information- I will definitely keep it in mind.
On 2 Mar 2005 09:04:18 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net wrote:

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Your problem is mostly to do with roots apparently, I'm mainly pointing out that a garberator is going to throw lots of fibrous/chunky bits down the drain which will tend to plug things up (given the roots acting as a "filter") much more readily. Also great food for the roots ;-)
If you're lucky, you'll be able to make your drains operate well even with the garburator. If not, well, there may not be a lot you can do unless you like roto-rooting it every year or two as the roots grow back.
As a FYI: muncipalities vary as to whether they "like" (or even permit) garburators. Those running out of garbage dump space but with good sewage systems tend to encourage them, those with the converse situation don't.
Composters are usually better anyway.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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wrote:

My garbage disposal broke about 4 years ago. We changed the way we do business and all garbage goes in the trash. I haven't missed it and I haven't had a clog.
PJ
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are we talking about a garbage disposal?
if so, i am of the opinion that NOTHING should go down the garbage disposal on purpose. i dont care what it says in the manual. it is a backup for the stuff that accidentally falls down it. you peel your potatoes over the sink and if a few skins fall down the hole you dispose of them. the rest you deal with yourself.
randy

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xrongor wrote:

Do you think the chewed-up stuff that goes through the garby is more or less likely to clog the lateral than the stuff that passes straight through the toilet?
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i think i made my position clear...
randy
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