Sewer mainline and check valve plus HF camera


Problem is a 40 year old house in Southern California, mainline sewer gets roots into it in only 2 sections of the clay pipe. Needs snaking every 6 months to maintain patency. Flapper valve into the house has been missing since I bought the house. Repairing the sections right now is out of the question because of finances, the bids where exorbitant!
Question: Can I, as a non contractor buy and replace the flapper valve (check valve) myself? What is involved? I know I have to dig. My house line is cast iron, the rest of the mainline is clay out to the city sewer line. Where would I buy such a check valve? Anywhere online you can suggest? The plumber wants $1200 just to replace the valve and install cleanouts, I do the digging!
Question: Does anyone know if the Harbor Freight sewer camera is a decent picture? I've seen the Rigid brand camera the plumbers use. One guy says they cost $10,000. Has anyone bought and used the HF camera? The Rigid camera was not impressive in picture at all. For my purposes, there would be no need for the other frills that come with the Rigid, I only need to see what goes on in my sewer. Anyone out there have any experience with HF camera?
Thanks in advance for your inputs. Any advise on the check valve is very much encouraged. Repair on the rooted areas of the clay, well, I just would have to save up for that. It will be a while. Thanks again.
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trg-s338 wrote:

I've not seen or used the HF camera, but I'd expect it's picture to be comparable to all but the most expensive pipe cam units as they all use more or less the same inexpensive camera modules.
It happens to be on sale for $400 at the moment if you can find it in one of their retail stores:
http://www.harborfreightusa.com/html/usa_cpnsave.html
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You could remove the offending plant that is spreading its roots. That would solve the cause and not the problem though. Of course, you could snake the pipe after the plant is gone and not have to worry about it until that clay pipe started leaking.
I would think that you would be able (as a homeowner) to do what ever you wanted to on your own land. Of course, the city (or county) might not let you hook up to their system if your work doesn't meet code. You might want to call (as a "local resident") and ask what kind of inspections/permits they require when doing this kind of work.
As for the service line (the one with the roots), you could replace that yourself as well. Getting some pipe might be just a matter of asking nicely. Here in Georgia with all the new residential subdivisions going in, there's lots of "spare" sewer service pipe when they build new houses.
Pete C. wrote:

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When a guy was putting in new windows next door, he was making the trim from sheet aluminum. I just asked for some scraps, which was all I wanted. But he gave me a piece 3 feet by 4 feet. I didn't want it but I couldn't turn him down. It rolled up a little, but plainly I couldn't fold it and it was in the way whereever I put it. Glad to say I have a storage locker, so I took it there where I don't have to look at it. (I'll probably be grateful to him some day.)
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trust me its hard to know exactly what tree roots are invading a sewer line, I had fitzers go around the hoiuse and straight down 7 feet.......
tree roots are easily and cheaply solved if you look at it as a ongoing maintence item. I USED to have all sorts of trouble, after camera inspection every joint but one had roots, line clogged constantly including even under house.
tried root killer really pricey:(
didnt have money to replace entire sewer, about 10 grand near 10-% of homes value and have to remove everything from my basement and garage. when home was built in 1950 they added a lateral to drain water from under slab........ all roots now.
every 3 months I dump 25 pounds of rocksalt in my washtub and add hot water and stir. dissolve what I can, they go out of home for day the salt kills the roots but doesnt hurt the trees. later washer loads dissolve the leftover salt, contiuning the root killing
you can use water softener salt, or rock salt its cheaper here in snow country.
cheap easy non hazardous, but always do before spring thats when roots really grow.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Thanks for the tip on the salt, that advise will come in handy. I figure that if I get a 3/4" snake and the Hf camera, I can monitor and maintain the line for a lot longer. Thanks.
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trg-s338 wrote:

Last night I saw an episode of "Ask This Old House" and they featured a segment on cleaning drain pipes. The last part showed a snake with an electric motor and a knife type head attached. The host mentioned right before the end that if you have tree roots, you can use an alternate attachment (it looked like a two-pronged claw with serrations) that would take care of them. Don't know the exact size, but it looked like at least 3/4".
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I had this problem in North Carolina several years ago. A Weeping Willow sent a root 40 feet to my french drain. When I broke open the french drain, the water shot up over 9 feet for better than 20 minutes and flooded the area below my property in at least 4" of water.
First I cut out the root about a foot from the tree. That sucker was 5" in diameter at the tree. There had been a drought that summer but the root was water logged.
Second I had the county agent come over and identify trees with evasive roots. Then I trenched betweens the house and those trees. It took about 6 weekends to do it.
The city sewer main ran between my house and by neighbor's house. About two years later, the city had it dug up and replaced. They tore out the Weeping Willow and I replaced it with some evergreens.
Dick
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