Advise On Sewer Line Repairs

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Kevin Brabble

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Hello,

I am looking for some advice on repairs needed on the sewer line at our daycare center. Almost three years ago, we had a clog in our sewer line that ended up taking several hours and a truck-mounted jetter to remedy. Until this month, we have had no other issues. At the beginning of the month, we experienced another sewer line clog. This was at the end of the day, and we were required to get a plumber to come out and snake the sewer line to remove the clog. Now, two weeks later, the line is clogged again, and we call a plumber out to unclog the line. Each time, this clog, according to the plumbers working on it, was at the connection where our sewer line connects to the city sewer system. This was assumed due to the length of cable required to reach the clog. During the most recent snaking, a clump of roots was removed from the line.

The next day, we had the plumbing company return to do a video inspection of the sewer line to determine the extent of the problem and what needed to be done to correct it. As expected, there were roots growing where our PVC sewer line connects to the clay pipes running to the sewer system, this connection is between the sidewalk and street at the edge of our property. The technician doing the video inspection also states that there is a coupling separating at the center of the parking lot, and a section of pipe that holds water, which runs under our air conditioning unit, the city water meter, and another section of the parking lot. The plumbing company is wanting to replace the sewer line from the edge of the slab at the rear of the building to the street. This is ~75' long and would require extensive excavation; under two fences, an air conditioning unit, and tearing up a parking lot we just had re-paved. Not only is this a financial burden we are not prepared to handle at this time, but it would require us to close the daycare, which would inconvenience our families, and probably result in us losing clientele.

I would like some advice on the work that needs to be done, and whether addressing the roots, which is where all the clogs have occurred, would be sufficient to minimize any issues we may have in the future, or if it is really necessary to replace the entire line at this time. I have included a link to the video and a picture of a diagram the technician drew on our paperwork. Any suggestions or advice are greatly appreciated.

The video inspection of the sewer line can be seen here: https://wwwzoub-my.sharepoint.com/:...lDhnxeVm7cKgkBD6tcFfB7rhafNXp6cnMBBQ?e=JyHsBs

The diagram of the building/line can be seen here: https://wwwzoub-my.sharepoint.com/:...ZLkXBbubwuF8UBygaXFtvmh_pCA7J-PT4xZA?e=f9LfaE

Thank you,
kbrabble
 

Reach4

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Your post did not mention the coupling separation.

I would be inclined to schedule to get the line rodded out from outdoors annually. Scheduling will make a lot less impact on the school. Maybe that could be a day when the school is closed.

If replacing, I would replace what clay tiles I could with PVC. Also add a cleanout that makes rodding out the PVC with a big cutter easier. But what is the deal with that coupling separation? Is that repaired? Is that pvc-to-pvc or pvc-to-clay?

I just looked at the bill sketch, and I did not attempt to look at the camera output. I am not a plumber or other pro.
 

Kevin Brabble

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I did mention the separated coupling in my post, however, I am not really sure this is even there. The place he showed us on the video, to me, looks no different than any other joint or coupling in the pipe, other than a bit of turbulence in the flow. Other than where the roots are at the end of the line, all joints and couplings are PVC.

Your post did not mention the coupling separation.

I would be inclined to schedule to get the line rodded out from outdoors annually. Scheduling will make a lot less impact on the school. Maybe that could be a day when the school is closed.

If replacing, I would replace what clay tiles I could with PVC. Also add a cleanout that makes rodding out the PVC with a big cutter easier. But what is the deal with that coupling separation? Is that repaired? Is that pvc-to-pvc or pvc-to-clay?

I just looked at the bill sketch, and I did not attempt to look at the camera output. I am not a plumber or other pro.
 

Sylvan

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It takes a certain mentality to install PVC under a parking lot knowing plastic has terrible load bearing properties

Personally for underground service where I want to insure longevity I use extra heavy cast iron piping or the very least Charlotte NH CI (never imported piping or fitting)

Many "techs" who are not licensed journeymen or master plumbers do not properly install piping and use rocks and garbage as back fill

Also if roots infiltration is in PVC I wonder if they installed neglected y to use clean fill (sand or soil rock free) and made sure the piping was not on top of rocks and allowed for proper pitch

When anyone uses the term "tech" run as today they are an electrons tech, the day before an x ray tech and the week before that a copy machine tech.


There is no such thing as a "plumbing tech" Ask to see the license as it is for your protection not the license holder as licensed contractors can be held accountable

There are apprentice (Helper) journeyman, and masters licenses

Many dishonest contractors use the term "tech as their employees cannot pass a journeyman's test or lack formal training . To by pass licensing laws the term tech came about
 

Reach4

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Got it. If you dig, I would do it at the end of the PVC. At least in FL, the lines are probably not as deep as they would be in a cold area, so it could be shovels rather than excavator.

Do you really like the tree that is near the clog spot?

Try "root-x" (with the quotes) in the search box at the top.
 

Kevin Brabble

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I understand what you are saying, but just as a clarification, the technician term was my wording. I do not know the standing, extent of training or experience of the camera operator, but he works for one of the largest most recommended plumbing companies in the area. My big concern is that I assume, like many in this type of profession, he receives a commission for any service he schedules as a result of the inspection and as such is probably motivated to recommend services, that while technically correct, are not necessary for efficient operation of the system.

It takes a certain mentality to install PVC under a parking lot knowing plastic has terrible load bearing properties

Personally for underground service where I want to insure longevity I use extra heavy cast iron piping or the very least Charlotte NH CI (never imported piping or fitting)

Many "techs" who are not licensed journeymen or master plumbers do not properly install piping and use rocks and garbage as back fill

Also if roots infiltration is in PVC I wonder if they installed neglected y to use clean fill (sand or soil rock free) and made sure the piping was not on top of rocks and allowed for proper pitch

When anyone uses the term "tech" run as today they are an electrons tech, the day before an x ray tech and the week before that a copy machine tech.


There is no such thing as a "plumbing tech" Ask to see the license as it is for your protection not the license holder as licensed contractors can be held accountable

There are apprentice (Helper) journeyman, and masters licenses

Many dishonest contractors use the term "tech as their employees cannot pass a journeyman's test or lack formal training . To by pass licensing laws the term tech came about
 

Kevin Brabble

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Removing the roots, whether by digging and repairing that section of pipe or through other means and using a treatment like root-x is the solution I am leaning towards. I guess I am just looking for clarification that the other issues are not serious concerns that need to be addressed immediately, as the plumber makes them seem. I am even open to yearly snaking of the line, as I could pay for that for more years than I will be around before it would even approach the costs involved with replacing the entire sewer line.

I would be more than happy to get rid of the trees that are the probable cause of this as they reduce the visibility of the business and create a huge mess during the winter months. However, the town we operate in is proud of its designation as a "tree city" and will not allow them to be removed unless they are dying or creating substantial safety issues.

Got it. If you dig, I would do it at the end of the PVC. At least in FL, the lines are probably not as deep as they would be in a cold area, so it could be shovels rather than excavator.

Do you really like the tree that is near the clog spot?

Try "root-x" (with the quotes) in the search box at the top.
 

Sylvan

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I made a terrible mistake in 1982 offering my employees commission and I ended up having to fire most of them as they tried to rob accounts with unnecessary work. Also many contractors wll recommend a sewer company to install new lines as they get kick backs I mean commission , finders fee ,donations for referral of work

I do NOT believe in using chemicals especially for root removal or root control

Even removing the tree roots still can grow

Replace the sewer lines and have peace of mind for decades
 

WorthFlorida

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I would at least have the section from the sidewalk to the sewer connect replaced or repaired. Almost always in Florida, from the sidewalk edge closet to the building to the curb is county or city responsibility unless you are in a gated community. You may want to call the municipality you're in and ask about the tree that it is causing problem and the dept for the septic sewer. I'm sure they have have had many tree root problems. With anyone able to have access to the camera video they should be able to give advice. I've found the people usually will at least do something, visit the site, determine if the tree can be removed, have to be replaced, etc.

The sewer connection probably will need a permit for repairs and perhaps a new connection to the main, so also ask about this concern. The problem is the clay pipe. not the PVC. The joint used to connect the two different material may only have failed. Tree roots do not penetrate PVC and properly glued PVC joints. Tree roots, especially palm trees, will lift the pipe up as the tree grows and that can crack PVC joints. It will crack irrigation pipes but to crack a 3" PVC at schedule 40 or 80 is hard to come by unless the tree fell over from a storm.

I could not see any failed coupling in the video since it looked like the camera was underwater. It may only be a dip in the pipe as the waste water stands there and may not be causing a blockage. It is preferred not to have any dips but some settling may have occurred. I would ask the plumbing company to show more proof that a coupling has separated or broke. PVC pipe cannot shrink to pull apart couplings. The ground is almost always all sand in Florida unless your in the pan handle and it is very stable. If there is a broken coupling then just get that section under the asphalt repaired, replacing the entire waste line doesn't look like it is necessary.

Depending on the tree at the street it can get very expensive to remove. Palm trees are easy as pulling weeds but if it is a live oak or olive tree, that can get quite expensive. You mention that it blocks the view and if it is a live oak over a 12" diameter trunk, maybe larger it could be up to $5,000 to remove. You'll want bids before wanting to remove a tree.

I looked up tree cities for Florida and there are about 100 cities listed and it is nothing but bragging rights.
 

Reach4

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It will crack irrigation pipes but to crack a 3" PVC at schedule 40 or 80 is hard to come by unless the tree fell over from a storm.
I would think bigger than 3 inch. I would hope for schedule 40 rather than D2729 sewer pipe. Schedule 80 sounds good, but is that ever used for sewers?

If I knew the location of the tree root problem, I would think of drilling a couple holes with a post hole digger to the left and right. Then filling the bottom part with copper sulfate, then a little plastic sheet, such as a garbage bag, and top with at least a foot of topsoil and grass. I might do that when nobody was looking. Somebody might frown on that.
 

Kevin Brabble

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Thank you for the input. The plumber told me it would not be the city's responsibility, but I will contact the city and ask for their input. The area where the roots are is between the sidewalk and curb, so perhaps this is something the city would address. At any rate, I want to have this part repaired and do whatever can be done to prevent future root intrusion issues, I just can't justify the expense of replacing the entire line due to a low section, that other than standing water does not appear to be causing any issues. There's a big difference in replacing something that is not ideal and replacing something that is causing issues. I also could not see a failed coupling, and where he identified the failed coupling is not where the line has standing water. This is part of the issue that is causing me to doubt his recommendations, and I will ask for clarification of the issue before I schedule any work to be done.

edit: according to the city's website, the city is responsible for the sewer lines from the main line to the curb stop. Since the issue is between my line and the city's line, I assume it would be a judgment call the city would need to make.

I would at least have the section from the sidewalk to the sewer connect replaced or repaired. Almost always in Florida, from the sidewalk edge closet to the building to the curb is county or city responsibility unless you are in a gated community. You may want to call the municipality you're in and ask about the tree that it is causing problem and the dept for the septic sewer. I'm sure they have have had many tree root problems. With anyone able to have access to the camera video they should be able to give advice. I've found the people usually will at least do something, visit the site, determine if the tree can be removed, have to be replaced, etc.

The sewer connection probably will need a permit for repairs and perhaps a new connection to the main, so also ask about this concern. The problem is the clay pipe. not the PVC. The joint used to connect the two different material may only have failed. Tree roots do not penetrate PVC and properly glued PVC joints. Tree roots, especially palm trees, will lift the pipe up as the tree grows and that can crack PVC joints. It will crack irrigation pipes but to crack a 3" PVC at schedule 40 or 80 is hard to come by unless the tree fell over from a storm.

I could not see any failed coupling in the video since it looked like the camera was underwater. It may only be a dip in the pipe as the waste water stands there and may not be causing a blockage. It is preferred not to have any dips but some settling may have occurred. I would ask the plumbing company to show more proof that a coupling has separated or broke. PVC pipe cannot shrink to pull apart couplings. The ground is almost always all sand in Florida unless your in the pan handle and it is very stable. If there is a broken coupling then just get that section under the asphalt repaired, replacing the entire waste line doesn't look like it is necessary.

Depending on the tree at the street it can get very expensive to remove. Palm trees are easy as pulling weeds but if it is a live oak or olive tree, that can get quite expensive. You mention that it blocks the view and if it is a live oak over a 12" diameter trunk, maybe larger it could be up to $5,000 to remove. You'll want bids before wanting to remove a tree.

I looked up tree cities for Florida and there are about 100 cities listed and it is nothing but bragging rights.
 
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