Sewer Line Problems


I own a 1920s house in Columbia SC and have recently developed sewer line problems. Two months ago, following a rain, sewage backed up into the basement through a floor drain. It happened again last week, again after a huge rain storm. I'm assuming there is a break in the line, that it might be terra cotta pipe or cast iron (as it is inside the basement). The sewer must be 10-12 feet below grade. It connects to the city line some 50 feet from the house.
I'm hiring someone to snake a camera down the line and pinpoint the nature and location of the problem. I call it a sewer colonoscopy. I'm told this is money well spent if it can clearly locate the problem.
What am I in for here in terms of expense? I'm assuming the worst, that the pipe is old, terra cotta, and that it will need to be completely replaced. 50 ft x 12 feet deep
I trust the plumbing company that I've been working with, but I want to know their bid is competitive and fair.
I welcome your advice. --Don
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I recently went through the same process, after increasing rates of snaking out the line. I opted not to video the line becuase we knew the line was bad and repalcin it in sections was merely prolonging the inevitable. If you dig the trench yourself, you'll save much of the $ $. Get a few bids from reputable firms and proceed sooner than later . I waited, and had to go with the first bid I got!
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On Mar 6, 7:34�am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

theres a pittsburgh company that videos the line for free, after snaking.
I HAD this trouble from tree roots, EVERY JOINT of the entire line but one had tree roots in it:(
After more snakings I started a regular maintence item, dumping rock salt in the washtub. add lots of hot water and stir.
Then dont use ANY water for day, like while at work!
The salt kills the roots but leaves the trees unharmed:)
Thats a 4 times a year job here at about 3 bucks each 12 bucks a year/ No sewer troubles and its been over 10 years unless I forget to salt it:(
Early spring when the trees are getting ready to leaf out is the most common time for trouble, they are looking for water for the coming growing season:(
Its cheap, and it works.
Another option is having the line snaked cleaned and a sock installed. It applies a interior plastic seamless line without digging. they put a soft plastic like sock thru your line, inflate it, then pump it up with hot water. the heat harens it into a smooth line inside your exsting line no more roots.
Would likely be cheaper than digging:) Theres a this old house episode covering this.
FORGET cutting down everything growing to fix root troubles.
Tree roots will travel at least 3 times the drip edge of the tree for a good source of water. thats 3 times the edge of the outside iof the foilage.
They sometimes go futher:( I had Fitser bushes roots 50 feet from bush to sewer. I thought the plumber nuts till I did some digging..........
Good luck with your sewer. If its roots you can live with it like a minor chore like mppping the floor.
Softner salt works great too.
I use a 25 pound bag 4 times a year. just dump and loeave sit.
You might try that before calling plumber, salt if things are beginning to clog and still moves a little usually works within a day , give this a double dose:)
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

We live in a 1950's ranch-on-a-slab. In fact, we live in a neighborhood of virtually all the same 50's r-o-a-ses. We bought the place in September, and since then I've seen two front yards dug up in order to replace the sewer line. Retired plumber/neighbor next door mentioned that a few other people in the neighborhood have also had to do the same, and that he really out to get around to getting his done. (BTW, we do not have a big tree where the sewer line is. There is a small tree which was planted only a year or two ago.)
The week we moved in, we had a plumbing emergency, as it turned out the drainage line under the floor from the laundry room/kitchen was rotted out. We elected not to jackhammer up the floor as we had just moved in, but to install a pump and plumbing up through the attic. At some point, ideally before replacing the flooring, we may do it right and jackhammer.
Anyway, this "sock" scenario is interesting, as we have already lost one pipe, and neighbors with the same set-up have had to dig. Is this a "permanent" type of fix, which could avoid us having to dig and replace, or is it a duct-tape type of fix? Can anyone give some price figures on the various scenarios, pay out for the whole job vs. dig it yourself vs. sock, for say 25ft from the house to the street. From the couple I've seen dug, it's not too far down, as we're on a slab, not more than 6ft, more like 3-4ft.
And when you say "dig the trench yourself," you mean rent a piece of machinery and actually dig the trench oneself? How do you know exactly where to dig, and where not to dig? How likely is one to kill, maim, or injure oneself or others while doing this? It seems like the kind of thing the average person should not be allowed to do...
Karen
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dkhedmo wrote:

There are numerous types of sewer pipe materials. One is "Orangeburg", made from cellulose fiber and tar. It deteriorates after....50 years!
(I'm not suggesting you have this; just a heads up)
History of the pipe here: http://www.sewerhistory.org/grfx/components/pipe-orng1.htm
and: http://www.sewerhistory.org/articles/compon/orangeburg/orangeburg.htm
Problem, as seen from Tempe, AZ: http://www.tempe.gov/bsafety/Orangeburg/Orangeburg.htm
Quote: "the average person should not be allowed to do..." In many cities/counties, he wouldn't be allowed to do it without a permit.
Not only are injuries possible, but every utility imaginable may be buried nearby. In 1950 the prevailing practice was to bury the city water line in the *same* trench as the sewer lateral. Oh, the water line may have been elevated a foot or so on a "ledge", but it was in the same trench. Running a trench machine thru that is almost a guarantee of a water line break.
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Socks and another technique called pipe bursting are usually used when digging would be prohibited like when a pipe runs under a building. The average person can do a lot if he wishes.
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I dug and installed my own sewer main when we built our new house last year. Despite the fact that I had no previous plumbing experience, there was no way I was going to pay some plumber 5-7000 dollars to do it. I guess it all comes down to your abilities and what you're comfortable doing, and what you'd rather hire out.
It's been well over a year since the line went in to service, no problems with it at all.
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well their line is 12 feet deep, so they need backhoe and equiptement to prevent ditch collapse, which can kill:( Plus it depends on local requlations:( Allegheny county where I live uses retired plumbers who DONT like DIY:( They get nit picky and want the bucks to go to their buddies the registered plumbers:(
Given the 12 foot depth the sock liner is probably the way to go.
I HOPE they try the rocksalt first, it works great , is cheap and isnt dangerous!
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The "outdoor colonoscopy" should tell me what is going on. A broken clay pipe, or possible root invasion, is certainly likely. But here is what puzzles me: why does this backup problem occur only after big rains? How is the rain water causing the back up? Why, after the rain stops, doesn't the drain take the water and sewage away again?
I am not planning to dig a 10-12 feet trench and replace pipe. As a plumber I make a pretty good college professor! I am wondering what it will cost me to replace, let's say 50 ft of sewer pipe in the worst case scenario. Any thoughts? I'm guessing $5k.
Thanks for any advice on these questions. --Don
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If you are not having any sewer problems except a back up in heavy rain, why replace the line?
I think you would be better served to install a backwater valve. Make sure you use one that can be serviced from the surface. Here is an example: http://www.cleancheck.com/about.htm
We installed two on a troublesome line this past summer and they have behaved flawlessly.
______________________________ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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