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Thread: Sewer Line Replacement

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member jerfan's Avatar
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    Default Sewer Line Replacement

    Hi All,

    This is my first time on this forum so thank you in advance for your help I own a house built in the 50's and recently we added a second bathroom. Before the contractor got started on that, he had the plumbing scoped and we found out that the line which is mostly clay had some root infiltration from a mulberry tree in our driveway, and that it had been patched once before further out along the line so one segment is plastic instead of clay. According to the plumber who came in to scope it, there's a little shifting in the section that's been patched as well.

    SO, I'm considering having the line dug up and replaced before it blows on me and makes a huge stinky mess. But before, I had a few questions:

    1) There aren't any problems with how the line works at the moment. Bearing in mind the issues I already mentioned, does this sound like something I need to do now or should I just wait until there's a real problem with it? The guy who came in originally made it sound like a crime against humanity that I had clay pipes to begin with. The tree causing problems has been chopped down since I found out about the root issue so there shouldn't be any additional damage done.

    2) I already have the scope video from the first plumber who came through. I've scheduled a few companies to cone through to give me bids, and so far the first one said the DVD I already have should let him know the state of the line enough to give me a good bid, and the second said the DVD is worthless since it doesn't tell him depths so I'd have to shell out another $200 to have it re-scoped before he can give me a bid (although this additional charge would be credited toward the work if we went through with the work). So, do I need to shell out for the new scope or is he just trying to squeeze me?

    Thanks again!

    Jovan

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    YOu have a basement, so unless the line goes out through the wall, he KNOWS the approximate depth of the line. You can cut the tree down, but it will still cause root problems for at least the next 25 years. I would not do anything with the line until it starts getting plugged up every year, and that is what I would have advised you unless the video shows some MAJOR problem that you are not describing. You could have the line snaked every couple of years if you were paranoid about it, but I would not even do that.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member asktom's Avatar
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    I'm with HJ but would add that you could use foaming root killer every couple years instead of having it snaked.

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    If there is root infestation, you had better use a foaming root destroyer monthly or they may be too "massive" for it to be effective.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member dj2's Avatar
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    While the above suggestions may offer you some peace of mind and relief, it will only be temporary. I know mulberry trees, the speed they develop roots and grow. Once the tree discovers your drain line, the roots won't let go.

    Another thing that calls for attention is the shifting in the line.

    1. I'm with the first plumber on this one, because I don't like lingering sewer troubles. Among other things I'm a landlord and I don't want to have these problems in my rentals, so I replace a clay mainline first time I have a problem. Replacing a main line could take more than 24 hours, and I don't want to see my tenants run to the gas station to pee.


    Now - at what cost? What did the first and second plumber quote you?


    2. The third plumber is just trying to put you in the corner, so ignore him.

    Other points: - replacing a main line when you are not under pressure to do so, gives you a chance to shop for the best price, that's why I recommend you do it now.
    - if you decide to wait, you will need an annual roto rooter service for sure. Then cutting the roots is the most effective way. Caution: roto rooters only cut a small hole in the roots, to allow the water to flow, for now. They know that you will call again within a few months.

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member dj2's Avatar
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    One more thing: In CA a job like this involves digging, and digging deep up to 8 feet, by hand or with a backhoe. That means it has to be permitted, inspected and approved.

    Without guessing, I know it's got to be the same in AZ.

    There is another option: trenchless main line. Inquire about this option too.

    Personally, I'll choose digging and laying a new line.

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