View Full Version : New 'Old' House Woes -- Need a new sewer line?

09-05-2005, 09:11 PM

Another question about my new "old" house. Ranch built in 1959. Salb.
Ok... live and learn but this is the first unplanned item that I did not read between the lines in the disclosure statement nor had enough knowledge about houses. (Besides what I feel like is low water pressure).

Here goes. The day I moved in, the sellers were more than happy to come over and show me how to do a few things around the house, yadda yadda. In the front yard, they say, here is the sewer line and the cover for access. (Wait.. gets more fun..) They start telling me what was already in the disclosure statement -- clean out about every year or two because of tree roots. They cut the big Mulberry down in front because it was an issue... oh, and one day you will need to get a new sewer line -- wait! that wasn't in the disclosure statement!!!! The part about a new sewer line one day!!! I was suppose to read between the lines on that when you say the line has been cleaned every so often??!!

Ok... I'm trying to do research on the internet and figure out my priorities now for my very shallow pocket. I'm not finding much info so far. Just that older homes.. possible clay line.. 50 yr max. Co-workers think I'm crazy for wanting to replace the line because why spend money when it is possibly not an issue. To just have it augered out. My family says, fix the line.. do things right. I say fix it before it breaks, if it makes it until income tax return time next year.

By the way, since I moved in, the toilets back up weekly but they eventually clear themselves out (but not this weekend... calling plumber on payday). I've bought the 3 foot auger and haven't found a stoppage (well, one toilet it got stuck, but I'm so afraid of breaking things I just stopped). I hear lovely bubbling sounds sometimes from the toilets when I run the bathroom sinks since move in. I've heard to stop with the femine hygine products in the loo (does procter and gamble get kickbacks from some plumber union? as the box says it can go in the loo!) Also, someone just told me to not use Charmine toilet paper.

Ok .. much info.. but advice about new sewer lines would be helpful.
Should I do put in a new one for peace of mind or keep augering out? I'm really afraid of the line breaking at the wrong time and I need to prioritze 2 other big projects -- Roof and electrical items. Yeppie. Hey.. the house is pretty! And better than anything else in the area...

Thanks so much!

09-06-2005, 06:21 AM
I recommend that you auger the sewer until it reaches the stage where it happens more than once a year and then replace it. Cutting down the tree did not help. The roots will grow for decades even without a tree. It will still be causing problems long after anyone even remembers that it was there, or where it was located. Your little auger is useless for this problem.

09-06-2005, 08:13 AM
marry a plumber! have a drain co camera your sewer line. with that info ,vidio casset, you'll have the tool to get bids on repairs . you may only need a small section,6 ft or so replaced. wish you were closer , i work for apple
pies ps camera work cost about $350 here in no. ca.

09-06-2005, 08:14 AM
marry a plumber! have a drain co camera your sewer line. with that info ,vidio casset, you'll have the tool to get bids on repairs . you may only need a small section,6 ft or so replaced ,at the root area .wish you were closer , i work for apple
pies ps camera work cost about $350 here in no. ca.

09-06-2005, 10:14 AM
Haha... I make a mean carrot cake or angle food. Texas is home of pecan pies, also. Yeah, my teenage daughter has already decide only a husband who is a handyman and can cook is worth marrying! I say, marry a handy-man or someone who makes enough to pay for good quality handy-men!

Hmm... I was flipping through the yellow pages and saw a lovely full page ad (so I won't be calling them) that advertised the camera job. $350 sounds quite steep just to DX the problem. I would rather put that money towards a new new line. I wonder if someone will give me a discount if I help dig?

Oh, and I've heard something about trenchless lines. What do you think about that vs digging it up and laying PVC? When I try to reasearch this stuff on the net, I just pull adds.


09-06-2005, 11:56 AM
If you already know you need a sewer there would be no point in spending the typical $300+ to video it. Trenchless will cost a lot more. If you dig it, then the overall cost will be reduced. The digging is usually the most expensive part of the job, as long as you do not break any gas, telephone, optic fiber, cable, or power lines underground.

Gary Swart
09-06-2005, 01:20 PM
I think you are taking the advise not to use anyone who advertises in the Yellow Pages too seriously. I think most of the larger business use the Yellow Pages if for no other reason than their competitors all do. Personally, when I want to find a company (any kind) to do business with, I avoid those who don't advertise or use only a single line in the Yellow Pages. While there are things that have to be done right, it isn't highly technical and any licensed plumber could do the job. Many may not do this kind of work, there are many who want only to rough-in new construction, so you need to find one who does sewer work. Get bids from several companies and be sure to specify cleaning up as part of the job.

09-06-2005, 02:42 PM
I'd just replace it when it becomes a real problem. Sounds like just one of the "quirks" of owning an older (although not all that old) home.

If it were me, I'd be happy with a clean out every year own two by a plumber and put my money into the roof, etc. that is likely more urgent.

I would also suggest you contact your insurance agent to ask what level (if any) of sewer backup coverage you have. This is an option item on most policies (varies by State). In our area, you get no coverage unless you ask. Then you have to choose "building" damage coverage and "contents" coverage. They are two separate limits. I think I have 10 or 15K building and 10K contents. I would not mention your conversation with the seller unless asked explicitly.

Good luck on your new home!