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Thread: Main line backed up again!

  1. #1
    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    Default Main line backed up again!

    So just found the what appears to be a backup in the main line. I had the same problem a few months ago and they were able to snake it out. Thankfully I found out before the basement became my own sewage holding plant.

    The shower in the basement (lowest opening) is full of fluids, and that's as far as it's gone!

    I have a call out to the sewer warranty company now to have them send someone out. I'm going to try and see if they'll get the plumber to throw a camera down the line to confirm I have no breakage or line shifting. I'm worried the clearing the line might just be bandaiding the problem.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Sorry about your problem, but you are dealing with it properly. A camera inspection is definitely in order.

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    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    Ok so they came out and cleared the line. I was very happy they came within an hour of calling.I guess timing is everything, they were just finishing up another job.

    They didn't do a camera inspection, but said if it happens again they would get authorization to do so from the sewer warranty company.

    He said the line seemed to be ok, thinks its clay but it could be concrete. Those are the most common in my neighborhood. He said since i have no trees the lines are usually very durable. He said it transitions out to a 6" line under the ground. Seems pretty big, but he said thats what it is.

    The clog was very easy and nothing came back with the snake. He ran it about 90ft(to the street). He said tampons might cause this but I know that 100% isn't the case. The wife has a little trash can where they go. I'm thinkin some of the fluffy paper we bought may be to blame. I guess now we wait!

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    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    Third Time is a Charm!
    Clogged again, this time I insisted on a camera inspections. They water jetted the line to get the water moving, then threw a camera down the pipe. They only got about 9ft or so from the basement. Looks like rocks, may be a seperation in the joint.

    The bad news is the line runs right down the center of the front yard to the street. The good news is I haven't installed the front walkway that was scheduled to be installed in a few weeks!

    It's about 65-70ft to the sidewalk. They are planning to take it past the sidewalk and bring a cleanout up to the surface. There is a 5k cap on the insurance I have on the sewer line. I may have to come out of pocket if they cannot connect to the pipe before the street. He said if they have to go further it will prob pass the 5k the insurance company covers.

    I guess the timing is good, if the line clogged after the front walk way was installed I would be PISSED. 70ft x 4ft of any walkway, concrete or stone AINT CHEAP.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member cloves's Avatar
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    Wow thats crazy thanks for sharing, so most likely the outside side sewer pipe broke and rocks and dirt have gotten into the pipe. Once you dig up the pipe you may even have a mass amount of fluids where the clog was happening.

    Just out of curiosity, you mentioned that you did the work via the warranty. Is this part of your house insurance or the cities warranty? Just trying to get a handle on that.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Whatever it is, it must be a separate policy, because neither the homeowner's insurance nor the city warranties sewer lines on the property outside the building.

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    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    So the warranty is through the Water /Sewer Company. I pay like $68 for one and $78 for the other per year.

    The water line protection covers my supply line from the meter/curbbox to the house.

    The sewer protection cover me from the street to the first(main) cleanout in the house. Covers replacement/repair of the line and clearing of blockages. This one has a annual $5k cap. It covers excavation/permits/loaming/reseeding the lawn/replacing sidewalks, etc....

    I am very greatful, it has paid for itself many times over. I added these both to all my houses a while back. My in-laws had their main water line spring a leak and it was covered. They came out cut the water service from the street, replaced the main valve all for free on a weekend. It would have cost them $400+ and the $75 to come turn off and and the water at the street.

    Small price to pay per year. My house is 100+ years old, I have no idea how old the sewer or main water line in is. I have no way to know the condition. I do know that replacing either would cost me a LOT of money.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Now that you have a brand new line you can drop the coverage and say you made out like a bandit!

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    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    So the BIG DIG went down today. They had to go about 12ft down. Of course the line doesn't head straight out to the street as was expected. In addition the line has two lines that leave the house and are joined outside in the ground. Instead of this being a replacement it turned into just a repair. The pipe out to the street is 4" concrete. I was told because of the depth replacement out to the street at the current depth would be in the 15-20k range.!!!!!

    They are recommended I re-route the plumbing stacks in the basement to go out the side at a lesser depth. We're back in business for now but have to figure out a long term fix. I'm going to research pipe-bursting and other options that don't require excavating at such a depth.

    Good news is we found nice new 6"PVC line at about 6ft down that someone did for the storm water. I had pulled all of my gutter downspouts out since I didn't think I had "real" underground drainage. All the gutters are going back into the ground now that I know it gets piped into the city storm system.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    I'm surprised they let a concrete line be repaired.
    In the city to your east last I knew they required replacement on any concrete line.

    Did you get the balance of the line camera inspected?
    If so how did it look?
    Concrete usually rots out on the bottom from water flow erosion.

    Relining may be the ticket if the line is decent.

  11. #11
    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    No, I didn't get the line camera inspected. They called the camera/snake guys but they were up north and no where nearby to come check the line.

    You have to remember this is all being done on the insurance dime, not mine. My main objective right now was to get back in business with little if any out of pocket. As the hole got bigger and deeper my heart started beating faster!

    They were able to cut the concrete using a concrete saw and tied into clean cut ends on both sides, if that says anything about the condition of the concrete pipe.

    I don't know who would have "required" them to replace the concrete pipe, there weren't any city or sewer officials onsite. The crew def knew what they were doing, you can just tell when someone has been doing this for many years. Again all this was contracted by the sewer company through their insurance coverage.

    A good bunch of guys, who knew the plan was to get the line working/repaired and buy us time till we are ready to replace. I will post some pictures later to get thoughts on what was done. They backfilled around the repair with gravel, brought a cleanout up into the front yard, and even repaired 2 fernco connections on the 6" storm sewer drain.

    They came ready to run a new 6" line to the street, but had to improvise when it was determined the line didn't run where it was expected. My wife was of the feeling that's on them and it comes with the job. But most people know that you can't know what you are up against until you see it with your own eyes.

    I will be opening a new thread to get some advice on the different options I have for replacing. I have a good handle on the different approaches but would like to get some opinions on pros/cons of each.

  12. #12
    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    So the main line is backed up again. The topsoil was just delivered from the work they finished last month!

    I'm at my ends with how to handle this and could use some advice. I'm not sure if the work would/should carry any warranty of any kind.

    The "repair" work to the line was done via the sewer line insurance. The bill for that was $3200-3400. The insurance has an annual payout limit of $5000, or which $500 or so went to a snake job earlier in the year.

    I don't know what the issue is but I have to imagine since they repaired/replaced a section last month that there is a problem further down the line or it could be an issue with the repair.

    The repair entailed replacing about a 8ft or so section of pipe and tying into the house and into the rest of the main with 2 ferncos. They also brought a cleanout up to the front yard of the house( already have one in the basement)


    I put the hose down the cleanout in the front yard and I can hear it hit water at about the depth of the repair which means water isn't flowing down to the street.

    I'm planning to call the warranty company who paid for and contracted all of the work. I didn't contract the repair that was done last month so if anyone has recourse with the contractor it would be them.

    What should my expectation be of this repair? Since the rest of the line wasn't camera'd it could be an issue further down that wasn't addressed.

    I think it could be the same issue as before. When they couldn't get the camera more than 10ft of so from the house they marked that location as being where the blockage was.

    After the ground was opened it became evident that the sewer line didn't take a straight run to the street, but instead took a left turn right about 10ft out from the house. I think now that the camera couldn't navigate the 90deg turn and infact there wasn't a blockage at 10ft but rather a 90deg elbow.




    If a sewer line replacement is in order I am upset that $3400 was wasted for this repair instead of going to pay for a portion of a replacement. That doesn't seem right to me. The contractor never gave me an indication that this was a "temporary repair". They had my front yard dug up and the equipment on site. If a replacement was in order @ that time I would think he should have said so.

    I was very pleased with how his work looked and the crew was great. They seemed to know their stuff. How is this usually handled. If the problem turns out to be with his connection into the existing line?

    So the plan is for me to call out my own plumber/drain company to snake and camera the line on my own dime to asses the situation. Then I think I will have a better idea of the whole picture. so I'm sure I will be back with an update. The new cleanout in the front yard is taken off a where there was an elbow so from that new cleanout it is a straight shot to the street. This will make it easier to snake/camera 1etc.

    I anticipate the next few days will be very crazy. I'm hoping whomever I get out here will at least be able to clean the line to get me back in business, I'm praying to just a paper blockage! If they can't then I will have to move quick on my game plan.

    I will be getting people lined up to give me estimates on "trenchless" and conventional replacements. Any tips as to how what should be asked? Given the depth of my line I think that some trenchless options may be more cost effective.(at least it sounded that way from what the guy that did the repair said). Would being down 12ft double my replacement cost? I have a 100% straight unobstructed shot to the street about 60-70ft of line.

  13. #13
    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    I've attached a couple of drawings of what I'm dealing with if it will help with some replies.

    The line was snaked out today and I'm working. Camera is happening tomorrow to check the condition.

    Name:  SewerPic1.jpg
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Size:  75.0 KBName:  SewerPic2.jpg
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    I was told the sewer in front of thehouse is 15-17ft deep and the one on the side street is only 6-8ft. That means my 12ft deep line has to connect into the sewer in the front street, the path it takes is unknown.
    The yard has maybe a 1-2 degree slope (FLAT) and is all grass with easy access from everywhere being a corner property.

    I have lined up a few guys to give me quotes for replacement. So far several have repeated the same over the phone, that going into the street adds big $$$ to the job and that I should look to reroute the line so it isn't buried 12ft down.
    Last edited by rmelo99; 06-01-2010 at 06:04 PM.

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    Network Engineer rmelo99's Avatar
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    Name:  sewerPic3.jpg
Views: 639
Size:  76.0 KBSo they camera'd the line and also located it for me. Good news is no breaks no collapsed line.
    The concrete is just old. The bottom isn't as smooth as it probably was at some point early in it's life.

    So several guys came out to quote the line replacement. Basically it was like 15-20k to replace the current line to the sewer main in from of the house @ the same depth 12ft+.

    The other option is to replace the sewer out to the side street at a shallower depth. 5-8k.

    I'm not replacing the line at this moment. I think i'm on borrowed time and since I don't have any intention to spend 5figure$ on a sewer line I'm doing prep work for a shallower depth line.

    This means that I need to re-route the drains in the basement. I've attached a sketch of the plan.

    The orange is running a 4" horizontal line around the permiter of the basement so in the future I can exit out the basement wall @ 4ft to a new sewer line.

    The red is the "future" shallow sewer line.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The guys doing the work were dedicated to doing as little as possible to get your sewer working again, otherwise they would have replaced it. A concrete sewer was NEVER any good, even when it was installed. ANY good camera will negotiate a 90 degree turn. If that $5,000.00 is a cap and you have already spent half of it, you may be in for some sticker shock. Pipe bursting is NOT a cheap option, and when the pipe makes turns the results may be iffy, since the burster will attempt to install the new pipe in a straight line between the two holes they make. In addition, there is no "where the pipe was thought to be". It should be THIS is where the pipe is. Before digging they should either consult the sewer plat map and see EXACTLY where you connection was, or send a locator sonde to track its direction.
    Last edited by hj; 06-14-2010 at 06:54 AM.

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