Sewer blockage.

Yesterday we had to free the approx 100 foot main sewer pipe out to the connection to the municipal sewer in the street. Our connecting pipe is four inch inside diameter plastic. It is about 8 feet deep; the pipe exiting below the footing of our concrete basement wall which is 8 foot high (plus a six inch footing). The concrete wall only 'shows' above ground by some six to eight inches. Our basement is therefore almost completely 'in ground'. There appeared to be two blockages; one a few feet out from the house, possibly at the location of an underground 45 degree horizontal bend in the pipe. The other almost 100 feet out to the main sewer. This second blockage may have been an accumulation of waste due to the first blockage possibly only allowing a trickle to escape. The problem however appeared to occur rather suddenly! The vigorous application of a 100 foot flat steel 'snake' was successful in freeing things up. This is only the second blockage we have had in some 39 years. The other one being some 20 years ago and due to an accumulation of too much fat from cooking and draining numerous Christmas turkeys for the local parish etc.! Questions: 1) We have a lot of trees. Is it likely that roots could go that deep and get into the sealed pipe? We had another problem with tree roots in a land drain, last year. but that drain was only about 1.5 feet deep and some 100 feet distant from this one. 2) Would the frequent application of coarse salt to the sewage pipe help to kill or discourage he growth of tree roots; if that is the cause? The municipal sewer outfall in this instance, after minimal treatment, is directly into the salt water ocean. Any comments/advice much appreciated
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terry wrote:

It is unlikely in the extreme that a plastic pipe could deteriorate or crack, thereby permitting the incursion of tree roots. It's possible, I guess, for a connection to come loose, but again, that would be very rare.
Tree roots go where the water is. Remember, a tree has as much biological material BELOW ground as it does above.
Salt does discourage roots.
I think you have a one-off situation and it's just one of those things. Don't fret about a one-time event.
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Are you sure that pipe is plastic. In 1970 plastic was only just coming into use. I know because I built my house that year and plastic pipe had just started to be used for inside piping. There was some plastic pipe used for sewer lines but did not have glued joints, they used slip joints that was sealed with some caulk type material, tree roots could penetrate if it was not done correctly or has failed. Also there was commonly used a asphalt/cellulose pipe that went under many names such as NoCoRode. The joints were hammered together and frequently failed or the pipe crushed over the years allowing roots in.
If it happens again have the pipe scoped to see if and where problems are.
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EXT wrote:

Good point about the age of the installation and the availability of materials back then.
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I would have the line inspected with a camera...........
lets you know exactly whats wrong, it might have a sag area
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[snip blocked sewer]

The problem with scoping a pipe is cost. The last two plumbers quoted me US$1500 to US$1800. I thought they were joking at first. They weren't.
Then there's the cost of digging the dang thing up. I'm sure there are some that could wield a shovel at the incline and depth necessary for a sewer excavation or sit behind a Catapillar without fear... Either of those would be issues for me. My city's streets-and-sewers department is willing to do both (for a cost) but as long as I can rotorooter the line, I'll pass on it.
The Ranger
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The Ranger wrote:

I like your plan.
You might keep an eye peeled on Ebay for a sewer camera. I just looked - there are several in the $600-700 range. And, of course, they can be re-sold after you complete your inspection.
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[snip blocked sewer]

Thank ya kindly, sir. I'd still allow someone with more experience wielding shovel or Catapillar handle the dirt. I'm sure I could _probably_ do the camera work but the learning curve might be just as extreme. I don't know; I've never used one. The "super" snake was quite challenging without a Journeyman Plumber available.

When I had my city's streets-and-sewers guys out, they warned me against DIY'er videos. It would seem our City's manager is a vampire in his afterlife. Anything that the citizens can pay for, he's sure to ferret out and put a "rule" into place.
The Ranger
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wrote:

Really ?? My house was built in 1966 and all the drain and sewer pipes are glued PVC...Strange....
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