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Lesnocker 09-06-2012 07:08 PM

1860 victorian lead line issues / neighboring property dispute
Hello new member here. I live in historic community and am haveing a hard time decideing on the manor of starting a water main replacement. My Lead water line is leaking a foot from my meter in the basement. I have slowed it to a drip useing a knife to press the leak shut. It needs replaced. We just spent well over 15K on a new roof so our savings is utterly at 5.00 :( . The issue is the 89 year old neighbor who owns a 80ft tall maple on top of my shut off. The plumber told me it must be cut down for him to work. "City area". So I asked about a new tap on the other side of my home. Was told the tap was 3000.00 plus 3000.00 to complete 20 ft of line. Or chop the tree down for 800.00 and 1000.00 for 14 foot of line. The neighbor has got toxic over the issue. I was called by her lawyer. I could buy the tree for 22,000.00 then have it removed. Or if the tree dies by root damage I will be sued for 22k plus a 180.00 an hour fee by the lawyer. She even had a tree guy look into the health of it. Has anyone been through this? I'm ready to cut the line and splice with garden hose but not sure if that would work. Is there any repair for a pin hole leak in lead. I need at least one year to save the 6000.00. Thanks for any ideas.

jaydevries 09-06-2012 07:21 PM

what do you mean by on top of curb box tap next to or covered over by trunk

bbo 09-06-2012 07:30 PM

sue the neighbor for their roots invading your water line. i believe in my municiality I am allowed to remove any vegetation on my side of the property, regardless of where it originates.

allthumbsdiy 09-06-2012 07:50 PM

I am having a tough time visualizing your situation. Can you post a picture or even a simple diagram?

In my neighborhood, all our water main shutoffs are located near or on the sidewalks within our properties?

Did you get a second opinion from a different plumber about working around the problem? Cutting down a tree to fix a water main seems little bit extreme (without knowing the full scope).

I understand your dire situation but I can also understand your neighbor's view as an 80 ft tall maple is a beautiful tree. Maybe you can offer a cup of coffee/tea and ask for her help/understanding?

It is my understanding that you can prune back tree branches from neighbor's tree that falls within your property. I don't see why the same concept would not apply to tree roots, especially if her tree is damaging your equipment.

You may want to get an attorney to cover yourself before doing something like this because the last thing you need is for that tree to die and fall on another neighbor!

jaydevries 09-06-2012 07:54 PM

that was my next ? is the tap on your property and if not call the city and ask them how it works if they have to repair and/or maintain location of tap. which are usually on a right away which would mean the same thing as bbo stated.
as for digging up for new line there are tools that will make it so you only need to access tap and where it enters house

Alan 09-06-2012 08:14 PM

Maybe it would be cheaper for the city to dig up their side of the tap and move it over 10 feet from the tree, and have the plumber re-route your waterline.


I've never heard of a lead waterline though. :eek:

allthumbsdiy 09-06-2012 08:21 PM

Alan has a good idea.

Not sure who your water supplier is but my company, American Water sells "pipe" protection insurance for like 10 bucks a month (another $10 for inside plumbing).

Barring any "pre-existing condition" disclaimers, maybe you can explore that option and make it your water company's headache :)

Lesnocker 09-06-2012 09:21 PM


Originally Posted by allthumbsdiy (Post 1004707)
Alan has a good idea.

Not sure who your water supplier is but my company, American Water sells "pipe" protection insurance for like 10 bucks a month (another $10 for inside plumbing).

Barring any "pre-existing condition" disclaimers, maybe you can explore that option and make it your water company's headache :)

Well we bought the insurance a month ago :thumbup: now to wait and make it not fishy. The houses are 10 ft apart in a "town square" setting so the sidewalk has a 2ft gap to the curb .the tree is in the gap 10 ft away on her property. 4 foot to my shut off. Plumber needs the tree down and the roots removed to get his equpiment in between the houses to dig. Btw I have all the papers on the home since were the second family to own it. They got water1893 gas 1900 and electric 1910 and it is solid lead pipe to the curb. Gotta love the 8sq ft bathroom. Thanks for the help. City says its a civil matter and the tree is "street scape" for the area so don't push your luck additude. Maybe it would be worth going to court urr I'm not the type.

TheEplumber 09-06-2012 09:53 PM

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Older part of my neighboring town has trees next to the curb and they are protected. It takes permits, money, etc. to touch them.
I've been told that the root base is about the same size as the canopy too so if you start digging under branches, you can damage or kill the tree.
As mentioned, you can pull a new line without a large impact to the landscape. Something to look at.
For the existing leak, maybe try a pipe repair clamp. Not a fan of them, but it should get you by for a while.

1950home 09-07-2012 04:57 AM

Look into pipe bursting...
With it being lead pipe you might look into getting a new pipe run inside of the lead one. When doing it they will split the lead pipe open.
They would have to put a puller in the basement and depending on how big the city water meter cut off access is they might be able to do it with out digging. If they did need to dig you would be looking at about 2 foot square hole.

If the tree is stopping you from doing basic maintenance to your home you need to call a lawyer before the issues get worse and you end up with out water.

ddawg16 09-07-2012 06:42 PM

Confirm....the tree is in the gap between the sidewalk and the street? And that position is 10' from your property line?

And...your shutoff is actually on her side of the property line but in the gap......but only 4' from the tree?

As TheEplumber noted....that tree is most likely protected AND owned by the city. In other words, your 89 year old neighbor most likely does not 'own it'.....the city does.

Your first step....take a trip to the city planning department and tell them your problem. They will tell you what you can and can't do.

I would not be surprised if the get a laugh from the story about the lawyer....personally, I think the lawyer is just bluffing. Your neighbor can not deny you access to repairing your utilities....even if they are on his property.

Second...I would be getting a second and third opinion....I'm sure there are some reasonable methods that can be used to access the shutoff without tearing up that many roots.

Third...maybe the city will relocate the shutoff so that it's in front of your property and not his.

Next time the lawyer calls, make sure you get all of his information. If he hangs up on you....he is not a lawyer....

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