Re: main sewer line problem
Posted by So. Cal. Plumber on January 14, 2004 at 02:14:47:
In response to Re: main sewer line problem
: I live in a row house in Baltimore MD. There is a cleanout located at the back our house, and from there our sewer line runs under the basement floor, out to the city sewer line under the street. It's 50 feet from the cleanout to the front of the house; the line runs another 22 feet under the sidewalk, curb and street to the main line which runs under the street parallel to the curb.

: Our sewer line has been running VERY slowly, so that several flushes of the toilet, or a long shower etc., cause things to back up and come out the lowest drain near our washing machine in the basement. (Yuck--we're using public restrooms or imposing on gracious neighborhood friends.)

: We've had two different plumbers bring in power augers.

: The first plumber ran about 67 feet of snake
: and hit an obstruction which he said is a collapsed
: sewer line under the sidewalk. He said the tip of the
: snake had mud on it, but no tree roots: indicative of
: a collapsed line. (We have trees near the front of our house; there's sidewalk between the front of our house and the street, except for about 18 inches of grass where medium-sized trees grow.)
: The second plumber ran about 70 feet of snake and hit
: an obstruction. He pulled back lots of tree roots, but no mud. I asked him if he could go farther, and he said no--and that past the front of our house any sewer problems are the city's responsibility.

: Both plumbers seem to think the line has to be dug up
: and replaced. So I called the city. The city will
: clean the line (replace if necessary) between the front of our house and the street ONLY if we have an outdoor cleanout in front of our house. I eventually got them to run a camera down the main line in the street and turn the lens to look into our connection: they saw lots of roots and no collapse (near the street at least.) In the words of the camera operator: get the plumber back here to do his job--and don't let him charge you again!

: Things are now at a deadlock. The city won't take any action without an outdoor cleanout (expensive to install and butt-ugly.) Plumber # 1 gave me an estimate to dig up the sidewalk, tree and bush
: in front of our house and put in a new sewer pipe and cleanout. I'll have to hire a bricklayer to restore the sidewalk. Plumber # 2 advised me to get the city to do essentially the same thing--technically the city's responsibility.

: I think that a few more applications of the auger might get through to the main line under the street,
: and that repeated application of the auger is the best thing to try next. But if the plumber(s) won't do it and the city won't do it, I'll end up with an expensive, unsightly and possibly unnecessary solution to the problem.

: I need the advice of an expert. (Thanks in advance, Terry.)

Ill try to make this short and to the point. To begin with you have a seperation or break in your line based on your description. It apparently is about 70' out. What needs to be done is the line dug up and repaired. Depending on the severity of the break running a snake thru it may be possible, but would only be a temporary solution if it is a severe break which the camera may not acuratly show. You may need to check with the city if you make the repair would you be reimbursed if it is determined to be their resposibility.
So much for being short. Good luck.

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