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Thread: Replacing sewer line - connection to main

  1. #1
    DIY Member jwray's Avatar
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    Default Replacing sewer line - connection to main

    I have a sewer line that is part PVC (4") and part terra cotta. The old (all terra cotta) line was invaded and broken by roots. The previous homeowner took the cheaper way out and only replaced about 1/2 of the line.

    The remaining terra cotta half starts outside underground and continues to the street. I've had to have roots roto-rooted out of it once. They even worked their way back into the PVC portion of the line.

    I'm considering replacing the remaining terra cotta portion myself. It's only about 30' worth. I see a couple of obstacles that I need some help with.

    1. The last approx 5' of the line runs under the sidewalk, curb and out to the street. How do I run the PVC under that?

    2. How do I connect to the sewer main?

    3. (This may make 1 & 2 moot). Am I responsible for going all the way to the sewer main and connecting or do I just have to meet the city at the property line? If I just meet them should I expect a charge for their 5' and the connection even though it's old and failing?

    Thanks,

    Joel

  2. #2

    Default

    How deep is your sewer line? This can be very dangerous work if over about four feet deep. Not recommended for amatuers. If shallower than that you may have a go at it just be extremely careful of cave ins. The only way to replace the line with open cut methods is to cut the street if you need to go all the way to the main. There are some pipe rehabilitation methods where a liner can be installed without digging up the whole line but is definately a specialized field only for professionals with proper equipment and knowledge. Not familiar with pricing for those methods but I would doubt it would be cost effective for a 30' residential sewer. As far as if your responsibility ends at the property line or the main would be up to your local sewer district as rules vary fom municipality to municipality.

  3. #3
    DIY Member jwray's Avatar
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    Default My sewer line; local sewer authority

    The line is definitely less than 4 feet below the surface. The building drain exits the house about 3 feet above the basement floor and about 3 feet of the basement is above grade. In addition the grade slopes down as it heads to the street. So even with the slope of the sewer line it is actually in a very shallow trench. This is all probably very unusual, but works to my favor in this case. The house is 80 yrs old and originally had a dirt basement floor, so that may have contributed to the building drain exiting so high (vs. under the basement floor) in relation to the structure elevation.

    I called the local sewer authority yesterday and was able to talk with a very helpful engineer. Their normal practice is to run their lateral to the property line and I would meet them there starting with a cleanout and continuing on into the house (or in this case on to the existing PVC cleanout 30' from the property line since the line is already partially replaced with good PVC). However this installation is so old that there is no cleanout at the property line and their lateral is probably old and just as much in need of replacement as the old portion of my sewer line.

    He was not sure how they would handle that situation, but is checking on it for me.

    I realize this saga may be boring for some, but I'll tell it on the chance that it may help someone else in the same situation some day.

    Thanks,

    Joel

  4. #4
    DIY Member jwray's Avatar
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    Default Response from local authority engineer

    Well here's the end of the saga. BTW I'm impressed with the responsiveness and helpfullness of the local authority. Tax dollars seem to be working there.

    The local authority is fine with me coming to the property line, which I believe is on my side of the sidewalk and makes life easier for me. I would end there with a cleanout and then stub out so I can connect to their lateral (which is probably terra cotta) with a Fernco.

    If I find their lateral to be in bad shape I can request that they look at it and assess it for replacement. In my mind digging a "test hole" at the property line to check out the line would be the first step in starting the replacement.

    The only problem I forsee is if I replace my entire line with PVC roots from the tree planted on the city right of way (between sidewalk and curb) and within feet of the city sewer lateral could still invade the terra cotta lateral and make their way back up into my PVC section. I would have a very good case at this point to have the city come and snake their lateral and maybe my line since the cause of the problem would be very obvious. From what the engineer said I think this would be a relatively easy job to convince them especially with my new cleanout at the property line for them to work with.

    I'm satisfied with the info I have and will feel comfortable proceeding when the time comes. I'm hoping it will hold out a bit longer as I have plenty to do inside still.

    Hope this will be helpful to someone else with the same issue.

    Happy Plumbing,

    Joel

  5. #5
    Operating engineer jdewees's Avatar
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    Default

    Pending on how far away the main is from the sidewalk,and pending size of the old pipe you sometimes can slide the PVC through the terra cotta into the main.I have done several jobs like this and it worked great. Good Luck

  6. #6
    DIY Member jwray's Avatar
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    Default Sounds like a good idea

    Hey, that sounds great. My property line is 5-6 feet away from the main, so I may be able to slide through the old pipe if the diameter works out.

    Any possibility the inspector or the sewer department will not like this plan? Anything special to do to keep them happy?

    My sewer line happens to empty into the main right at a manhole cover, so it is easy to see when the pipe comes through. Should I just slide the pipe in so it is flush with the end of the old pipe? Anything require to "seal" the end where it intersects the main?

    Thanks,
    Joel

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