Replacing a sewer line in NYC


Hi all,
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
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Dee wrote:

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.
Jim
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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 more.
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 too.
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
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wrote:

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.
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First have another plumber snake the line!

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 the money:(
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
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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

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...
I used to live in the Bronx. Doing plumbing in NYC is expensive. My advice is to make sure you have at least another 4K available just in case.
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Dee wrote:

Be sure he uses pipe impervious to tree roots or earthquakes - like PVC. No concrete or cast iron.
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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.
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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.
--
Peace,
BobJ



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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!
Dee wrote:

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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 overnite......
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
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Homeowner is 100% responsible for the sidewalk no matter who causes the defect.
--
Peace,
BobJ

"DerbyDad03" < snipped-for-privacy@eznet.net> wrote in message
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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.

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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 basement.
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.
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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.
--
Peace,
BobJ

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Marilyn & Bob wrote:

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 you need'em.
shelly
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