plumbing info/specialist needed

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My 75+ year old house is having problems with it's main sewer line. In the past, this would happen every 7 years or so but it has happened 3 times over the last 1.5 years (water backs up out the basement floor drain).
I found a bunch of info on plumbing on the 'net, but it is largely stuff about what is *in* your house, not what is *under* it.
I think I've figured out what all the things in my catchbasin are. Up top are a couple of incoming pipes from the eaves troughs, currently disconnected. Down below are two large pipes going down the length of the house, towards the street. One is slightly above the other.
I'm guessing the one slightly above is connected to all the regular drains in the house...sinks, dishwashers, bathtubs, etc. Solid waste (toilet output) is probably plumbed into the lower pipe. In normal operation, the lower pipe feeds into the street...the upper pipe feeds into the catchbasin, bad things in that water sinks to the bottom of the basin, and the "legal" water flows into the lower pipe.
I tried rodding the lower pipe w/a 100' unit I rented from Home Depot. I am not sure it made it all the way to the sewer outlet..it may have done *some* good, I will find out today when I run some water.
Now the questions...
Can you rod more than 100' effectively? I am also going to try with a bigger "bit" on the end of the rod...
The first time this happened, someone suggested a "cleanout pipe" on my front yard. I see white PVC caps in front yards, but mostly in newer houses, and not where I think they would be effective. They are mostly near the sidewalk, or actually past it in the parkway. I would think that it would be more effective to put them at the front of the house, so you could rod from there up to the sewer entry point...but this is not the case?
Finally, I read somewhere that this is a common problem with older, houses with clay/ceramic pipes, and that replacing the stuff from the front of the house up to the sewer w/PVC would solve the problem for good. If that is the case, why do newer houses (w/pvc pipe) have cleanout pipes?
--Ken
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Ken R. Dye an optimist is a guy |
Chicago, Illinois that has never had |
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It's just a good idea? Afterall, stuff could clog the inside of the pipe without moving through the wall of the pipe. Also, I believe they are required by code for overhead sewers. I could be wrong though.
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On Jun 20, 3:30 pm, snipped-for-privacy@localhost.localdomain (dye) wrote:

Most codes require a clean out at the connection of the building drain to the building sewer. The building drain being the lowest section of piping within the walls of the building, extending somewhere from 2-10ft outside the walls of the building, where at that point it becomes the building sewer by definition.
Many sewer districts require a cleanout at the right away if the sewer enters the road. In some cases it's required to be increased to 6" before you enter the road or make a road crossing. The 6" c/o in the right away ( Y & 1/8 bend) allows the sewer district to maintain the road crossing in some cases. Also increasing to 6" allows the district to use thier flusher which needs a min. of 6".
To answer your question yes you can clean in excess of 100ft you just need a machine that uses sectional cables such as the Ridgid 1500.
Sounds like a camera would give you some answers.
kenny b
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: My 75+ year old house is having problems with it's main sewer : line. In the past, this would happen every 7 years or so : but it has happened 3 times over the last 1.5 years (water : backs up out the basement floor drain).
I went through all of this within the last 5 years or so.
Ended up spending between 8 and 9 grand total and am pretty sure I could of cut that in half if I knew what was going on.
First off, get a sewer guy or plumber that has a sewer cam. This will probably run $200 to $300 for them to come out but is the most important first step to take. You don't want them to do anything else except figure out where and what the problem is exactly. You can stand above ground with a thumb up you ass guessing all you want but until you get a video of the line and an accurate measurement of where, you'll just spend money and not get any nearer to fixing the problem.
Most of those camera rigs have a vhs recorder attached to them, make them use it and get a copy of the tape. Although the cable the camera is attached to is marked in feet, they should also do a tracer, the camera head has a beacon on it and using a metal detector (like for coins) they should verify and mark the spot.
You have one problem but two possible causes.
Likely you have a really bad case of roots. Less likely is a section of the pipe cracked, caved in and you have a mud clog.
In either case trying to rod from the catch basin is futile, even though most of them have 100' cables, clearing out the pipe at that distance just doesn't seem effective, especially if it's mud. Plus in Chicago it seems like a common distance from catch basin to street is more along the lines of 125', so it's not long enough to push it all the way into the main sewer.
They may be able to make it better by breaking up the clog, but it's temporary. Take my word for it. It won't last, guaranteed.
Putting in a cleanout is the solution provided the sewer line is intact. Ideally even if the line is collapsed, the cleanout may be able to be installed where the break is, sort of killing two birds with one stone.
The cleanout will do nothing on it's own except make it easier to rod the main sewer line. Understand that fact.
All you are doing by adding a cleanout is making an access point in the sewer line around the half way point. This make rodding the sewer easier because you are only going 50 or 60 feet in each direction (towards the catch basin and towards the street) rather than trying to push 100' from one direction.
Again though, get a video done. You'll probably end up putting in a cleanout anyway, but you may luck out and be able to put it in where the current problem is now.
If the sewer line collasped, you at least can shop around for estimates. This is an expensive repair in any case. I can't see it being done for under 3 grand and more likely it'll be in the 5 or 6 thousand range, at least if you are here in Chicago. If it's under the foundation of the structure, figure 10k to 20k, easy.
One thing to get prepared for, they are only going to replace it with the same type of 100 year old technology, the clay pipe. Forget about replacing it with plastic or steel, you can't according to law. It's a union thing.
There will be an inspector from the city making sure of that before they seal the hole. Seems to be one thing city hall stays on top of.
If it's just a really bad case of roots, although it seems like fixing the area of the sewer line where the roots are coming in makes sense, it probably won't help in the long run. The clay pipe the city forces you to use are in small 2 or 4 foot sections. Every point a section is joined to the next section is a possible entry point, even if they are cemented together. All you need is one tiny leak near a source of roots and eventually they'll find a path into the pipe.
It make take some convincing and a few phone calls but if it is just a bad case of roots, you should be able to find someone to clear the line without having to add in the cleanout. They aren't going to be happy about it and all suggest putting in the cleanout, but someone will do it. Most have some kind of guarantee, this is where calling in the camera crew again for the second time will pay off.
Don't take their word for it that the line is open. If they don't have a camera service, call back the guys that did it the first time. If it still looks like a rats nest, get the rodder guys back and show them.
You are going to end up spending around a grand, 2-300 for the initial camera, maybe $500 for "a good rodding" and another 2-300 for the second camera inspection. It's worth it, really.
All of that fixes the problem, but only today. At least you'll know where you stand but this isn't a final solution. Even if the camera/rodding/camera play gets things flowing again, you'll have to start another course of action for long term happiness.
You'll either have to start doing a annual or semi-annual rodding, even if there is no obvious problem or resort to chemical warfare and stick with it. Those roots just don't retreat and give up, it'll be a re-occuring problem, like it or not.
If you can't budget the $125 to $250 annual rodding, there is a chemical called copper sulfate pentahydrate which is sold by Home Depot and any other big box store under the name "Root Kill" or "Root Be Gone". The problem is, they charge like $5 to $7 for a two pound canister. If you look around the net, ebay is one place and any online store that sells treatments for ponds or other enclosed water areas, they sell the stuff in 25 or 50 pound bags for less than $1 a pound.
What you are going to do with that stuff is throw a pound of it in the toilet once a month like it was a new religion. What it does is basically nothing excepts dissolve. If there are any roots, they absorb it and the copper poisons it, thus killing the root.
Keep in mind it isn't a solution for today, kind of too late for that now but is a really good solution "later" so the problem doesn't come back.
Hmm, long post.
Bottom line is, get the camera crew out there asap and know exactly what is going on and not an educated guess, it'll save you thousands.
-bruce snipped-for-privacy@ripco.com
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Bruce Esquibel wrote:

Yes.
I have been playing this game for 15 years. current plan: every 2 years, spend $150 to have the pipe rodded. try to make it happen before stuff starts backing up in the basement.
For your case: I would find one company that can do both cam and rod. Here is why: when I had the cam done, the line was clogged, and so the cam was underwater at the point where the clog was, so everything was all blurry.
At the time I was in the mood to replace the pipes, so I didn't really care, but then I found out the clog was pretty much right under the gas line (the main that my house taps into) and decided doing it by hand wasn't going to be as fun as playing with a small excavator.
Also, I hear that my pipe is 4" from catch basin to the front of the house, then it expands to 6" from house to street. putting a 6" cleanout attached to the 6" pipe will let them use a 6" bit,
after dealing with 3 or more outfits, I have settled on
"William Siwek - Sewerage and Drainage" Park Ridge 847-825-3743
Not sure I have ever meet the guy, but the crews that come out have always been on top of things.
Some other company got their bit stuck and spent most of a day just trying to get it out, and another just gave up with "you will need to dig up the pipe." next day, called Siwek, guys came out, didn't even flinch when I told them what was going on. "no prob - we have good equipment." and 2 hours later they were done. $150, no problem.
--
"then again, I've been told I'm a wacko"

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Why? This seems absolutely absurd (even by Chicago standards)...
brian
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it's resistant to almost all domestic sewage. the same can't be said of anything else. Plastic is out....because of the glues and adhesives and the cost of cast iron is way high. Vitrified clay pipe has worked for a hundred years...it's the best solution in city residential replacements.
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This is a ridiculous statement - replace a length of clay pipe with a complete unbroken length of PVC and you're free of roots pretty much forever. And there aren't that many glues and adhesives in a joined set of PVC - people been doing it that way for years...

I'm not a plumber, but I think that's BS - might be proved wrong, though, by someone who does this for a living. :-)
brian
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get back to us when they've continues to work after 90 years plus.

price out a 8 foot length of both and the labor to sweat a joint
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You sound like your a clay pipe salesman.
Just for the record there are many sewer districts that forbid glue joints on sewers, but that dosen't mean PVC is forbiden.
Who do you actually think your trying to pedal this garbage too.
kenny b
kenny b
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snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

I have a 100 year old place with the original tiles working just fine. That's all the info I need.
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over 25 years and doing this shit 10 years before that, the houses don't get much older than that, Hell we still have lead services and lead bends. Tile repairs and tile traps are still done but usually not as a first choice, there are usually other factors involved such as cost or limited space.
Today some State Codes don't even allow the use of clay tile anymore, even though many of our older cities are built on it.
Just so you know we have one guy here on the board that use to install the old oak mains with his dad, right JP ;)
kenny b
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snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

I have lead service and a lead bend. Most older houses in chicago have them if the service has never been repaired or rebuilt.
although it is time for me to replace the horizontal pipes inside the house.
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snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

Some wood piping has survived from roman times found in the ruins of the structures that were along Hadrian's wall.
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Brent P wrote:

BBC News - UK 6 February 2004
Archaeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old water main built by the Romans - which is still working.
The find has amazed experts at the Vindolanda Roman fort in Northumberland (England).
During ongoing excavations at the site, workers discovered a 100ft stretch of wooden mains, which at one time fed the fort with water from nearby springs.
The pipes were constructed by drilling large lengths of alder, which were joined together by oak pegs.
..."The fact that they were still working is quite incredible, but it was also a nuisance because they flooded the excavation trenches which had to be pumped out every day..."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/tyne/wear/3464861.stm
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Hey Kenny, You must be bored. Anyone who thinks clay pipe is some kind of superior product for sewer lines is really not even worth the effort. Kind of like someone else posting about SDR35 being a good choice. This thread is cross posted so there's a lot of homeowners and wannabes replying here from another news group. So, like Kenny I am a 30+ year Master licensed plumbing contractor. The absolute state of the art and the best overall product available today for "most" drainage applications is.....<drum roll>........ Schedule 40 PVC-DWV....... Period. Now, there are special conditions that might cause you to make another choice, but any of those choices are a compromise giving up the durability and quality of PVC. If it is a public space where people could get trapped during a fire and smoke inhalation could be an issue (most codes address this) then cast iron would be a better choice. There's also ABS that is still being used in some areas of the country but because of it's unstable linear structure it is a poor choice. There's also a cheaper PVC line called "Foamcore" where foam is sandwiched between two thin layers of PVC...... I don't even allow the purchase or use of it in my company. If you happen to be building a chemical plant and you are going to be generating acid waste then you want to choose Duriron or one of the crosslinked polybutalenes or maybe even some Pyrex bead to bead or ....<drum roll>..... clay terra cotta for certain types of high ph acids. The wall structure of clay is a joke so plants that have to make this choice will usually try make sure the clay is going in an unimproved area so they can dig it up and replace it every few years. Back to non-acidic wastes - there's an SDR series of piping available including from thinnest wall to thickest wall SDR-41, SDR-35, SDR-26. The '41' hasn't been readily available for most parts of the country for years and was a paper thin walled pipe for shallow sewers in sandy soils. The '35' is still available but it's primary intended use is exterior STORM water, not sanitary systems. The '26' is primarily for exterior sanitary sewer mains. There's also the polyethylene and A2000 family of piping systems. These are also for site storm water. There's a few others, but the main point here is that there are lots of piping systems in the world and the best one for a particular application 20 years ago, or 50 years ago, or 100 years ago is not going to be the best one currently. Those are decisions that experienced licensed professionals have to make based on the totality of the circumstances.
Bob Wheatley
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wrote:

I'm sorry, but your knowledge and years of experience don't hold a candle to Kenji's 100 year old place with clay tiles working just fine. His contribution is all the information we need, thank you very much.
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Bob sometimes it's just fun! The responses are even funner!
In the past year I made a move from NY to AZ. What a culture shock in the trades division. Here to be considered a licensed plumber you must have a total of 8 hours on this side of the border.
kenny b
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I feel your pain brother. I've spent my whole life in Texas so I know a thing or two about illegals. Have fum with these dipsticks......:>)
Bob Wheatley
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On Fri, 22 Jun 2007 18:08:53 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote:

Sewer pipe joints these days are press together with a built in rubber coupling at one end. The pipes push together, with no glue, and thus can expand and contract as needed. It is usually green in color, and goes by the name SDR-35.
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