I am new to this group. I have had sewer backups in my house basement
for as long as I can remember. Snaking the main sewer line once or
twice a year helped to contain the problem for about 10-15 years. I
was charged about $250 for each job. The last time a few days ago the
plumber worked for 3 hours and was not able to clear the line
successfully. He was able to go out pretty far, but not all the way to
the city sewer in the street. Last year we had the video inspection
done for $500 and I was given the tape to keep. It showed that the
pipe was severely damaged and filled with large tree roots. It also
showed that the pipe was in danger of collapse (separation?). We have
a large city tree in front of the house that has massive roots that are
lifting up the sidewalk. The houses here were built in the late
1940's, so I assume that the main sewer line is quite old. We are fed
up with the sewage backups that have contaminated our basement time
after time. We have hired a plumber to replace the main sewer line at
a cost of $8,800 (OUCH!). They will dig up a 4-foot wide trench below
our foundation, and install a new pipe. Does anyone know if this is a
fair estimate for two days of labor here in Queens, New York? There
will be four men working. They are also going to remove part of our
front lawn and 4 small bushes that they have promised us may not grow
back. In addition, the sidewalk in front will be broken open as well
as part of the street. I would certainly appreciate any advice that
anyone has for me. I am agonizing over this decision and have a
knotted stomach from all of the trouble and expense. I believe that
this is the only way to solve this problem for good. Please advise me!
Dee in New York City
Offhand, I would say the charge sounds reasonable,
given the location, etc. I assume that this a written
and fixed cost and that the contract states in writing that
the contractor is licensed and he will get the permit
and guarantee that the work will pass inspection.
There is an excellent chance that the water line is
currently running in the same trench, or nearby,
the old sewer. Does the contract say anything about
possible damage to the water line and, if there is,
how much you will have to pay to replace it?
OK. Those are the main points I would make about the
legalese (not a lawyer).
Next, I would ask you: Under what conditions did these
backups occur? During rainstorms? Or during dry spells
but only when members of the house flushed toilets or
ran the washing machine?
If it only happens when flushing/washing, then the
sewer replacement should alleviate it.
HOWEVER, if rainwater runoff is part of the problem,
then you are wasting your money. Getting the roots
out will not prevent backups from the street. In this
case, the plumber would need to install a "backwater"
valve along with the new sewer line (at considerable extra cost).
Get everything in writing. Dot all i's and cross all t's.
I may have a CHEAP EASY solution for the OP!
First have another plumber snake the line!
Plumbers see $$$$ in your eyeballs:(
Is the line open at all? If it is go buy a couple 25 pound bags of
rocksalt. its cheap or you can use softener salt for just a little
now when no one will be home for day dump rock salt in basement washtub
and mix with hot water and a shovel to help dissolve the salt. dont
diossolve it all just a good bit
now go to work, while the salt works:)
ever notice how salt kills grass? salt will kill the tree roots while
leaving the tree live.
now do this 4 times a year, pay special attention to early spring
BEFORE tree leafs out, thats the time of max root growth.
do be aware if you replace line and its in drip line of tree theres a
good chance it will kill the tree. so budget money for tree removal
My line is bad too and I have the videotape to prove it. since I
started the rocksalt feeding I have had no troubles and no backups.
why not give this a try it costs under 10 bucks isnt hazardous and
please report back when it fixes it
This will take too long and may not work.
What will work is to have a heavy duty roto rooter job that will
cut thru the roots. Your last plumber just didn't use the proper tool
for the job. He was evidently using too light equipment.
Find another plumber who can handle the bigger rooter jobs.
first note my comment have line snaked again, some plumbers grunt groan
and swear quietly to give you the idea the job is hopeless, so they get
honestly having lived for over 10 years with a bad terracota line salt
isnt instant, but it does kill the roots in the line fast.
ideally if its draining at all the salt helps within days, the
poisioned roots rot:)
At this point I could of replaced the line but had better uses for the
bucks and paid off our mortage.. with all the other stuff that happens
to a home my sewer is a minor irritant
I hope the OP at least tries salt and lets us know how it works
Years ago, I used to service a few restaurants on City Island. I come from
the northern end of Westchester County. It was cheaper for these restaurants
to pay me traveling time both directions, than it was to hire local
contractors from the Bronx. I'm not saying that they're crooks, just that
everything in NYC costs more, much more. Just stay away from plumbing
contractors like "MR. Rooter" and get a couple of estimates
My local water company in Fairfield County which is right next door to you
offers supplemental insurance called 'safety valve'. It is designed to
insure the incoming and outgoing (separate policies) pipes. Maybe you can
get a policy like that and get them to pick up the tab when the backups get
worse or if that failure at some point does occur.
May be right next to you, but the water world is totally different. There
is no local water company in NYC. NYC has a public water supply and
distribution system. It doesn't sell anything but water and sewage services
(and an alligator T-shirt or two). No insurance here.
Greetings from a former Flushing resident. Reeves Ave near Queens
College. Upsate NY now. Just curious, where in Queens do you live?
(Nothing too specific please!)
Anyway, I'm not sure if the city will like it if a private firm starts
digging around the roots of their trees without their permission. You
may end up paying fines as well as removal/replacement costs if they
damage the tree. Make sure you discuss this with the contractor and
don't take an "Oh, don't worry about - we do it all the time and never
hurt the trees" answer. It's usually right after that that things go
very bad and they shrug their shoulders and walk away, leaving you with
the city knocking on your bank account's door.
Who is going to replace the sidewalk? Will this be an additional cost
to you after the plumbers leave? Check with the city - they may have
rules about screwing with their sidewalks also. It's been along time
since I lived in Queens and I don't recall who is responsible for the
sidewalks. If it's the city, then maybe you could work a deal where
they would cover some of the sidewalk replacement cost since their tree
has lifted the existing one and it will be level when the sewer job is
done. i.e. a benefit to them.
Maybe you could even get them to coordinate the job with the plumbers
get the sidewalk removed and replaced by the city and reduce the labor
costs of the plumber. Yeah, right!
theres another way, they dig at either end, roto rooter and clean the
existing pipe, then put a sock in it the length of the line.
then the sock is inflated with very hot water and left to cool
the next day its a ha rd plastic covering, both ends are opened and
things return to normal.
saves most digging, possibly damaging tree, but you cant use sewer
overnite and process is costly. might be worth looking into, its akin
to running a plastic line inside a leaking gas line, saving all
digging. thats done arond here all the time.
I still think the salt treatment is worth a chance to save lots of money
Check with your city, while it varies from city to city and state to state,
most areas the city owns the land from somewhere on your side of the
sidewalk out to the street. Everything on their property is their
responsibility, and if you damage their stuff and the trees you must pay to
repair it. Normally they will repair everything that they own at their cost,
you pay to repair what you own. If the sewer is broken on their property,
check out the possibility of them doing the fix, don't let a contractor go
digging around when the city may fix it. Check first.
this old houses current home with 2 familys had its sewer line, lined
with a new pipe inside the old with no outside digging at all.
dug up basement end for access, they roto rooted the line, installed a
sock impregnated with epoxy, installed a inflation hose and a way to
cut the street end open and pull the inflation hose back to the
if the OP returns I saved the episode and can get the name of the
contractor and process, although rock salt is way easier and cheaper.
Please, with eight million residents, there are enough people from NYC on
this board to be able to provide a vaguely knowledgeable answer without
others making irrelevant comments. In NYC, the home owner is responsible
for the entire house connection from the City sewer, no matter whether it is
under City property or the homeowner's property. They are also responsible
for maintaining the sidewalk even though it is City property.
"EXT" < firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
Same goes for the tree, but I don;t thikn it's a big deal to the city
if the tree comes down due to the work... Just plant a new one. You can
also break up the sidewalk, as long as you repair it. I believe the
colors of the cement have to match... dunno about licences, but I'd bet
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.