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Old 12-02-2010, 09:19 AM   #1
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Continued gurgling

I spoke of my DWV system previously in another thread here:
DWV minus V = mess?

At the time, I was experiencing gurgling which would continue for a long time after use of the bathroom and backflow through a humidifier trap. I was able to correct the problem by cutting out old iron pipe, cleaning out the sewer lines with a root cutter bit at which point the obstruction cleared and water drained out of the pipe. At that point no further gurgling occurred and we moved into the house with a well functioning drain system.

2 weeks later, the bathtub is gurgling again but only briefly. One of two things seems to be going on, I'm building up solids which may eventually become a blockage again or I need to improve ventilation sooner rather than later.

The second I can take care of myself, which I assume I should do regardless. If it's a blockage, I'm assuming I should have a professional clean it out - preferably one who can see what's going on with a camera.

Any suggestions which route is more likely to be needed? This is mostly a matter of prioritizing where money goes and when.

For reference I'm putting in the old picture showing the pipe configuration, I've reaplaced iron with PVC and added a cleanout that's easier to get to, but the configuration is generally the same.


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Old 12-02-2010, 08:23 PM   #2
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ARGH... Okay, so upon further investigation I do once again have a blockage. It's not as obvious because the blockage is apparently after the clean-out under the driveway, meaning that where everything backed up into the crawl space because the blockage was before the driveway clean-out - this time it's backing up and flowing out onto the driveway.

I'd been in denial over the fact that this thing was really a cleanout for my sewer pipe... I'd wanted to believe it was somehow some sort of drainage thing that connected to the storm sewer system, nope. I have a pipe coming up in the middle of the driveway, it doesn't have a cap on the end of it - it has a dented bowl over it. I think this might be the tripping hazard my previous insurance cited as a reason they were cancelling my policy.

So it's easier to clean out, but this is just a stupid setup as far as I'm concerned. Given the stupid location, under the driveway, it seems more probable that there are tree roots busting through the pipes.

So, I'm thinking I want a new connection with the city sewer that isn't going under the driveway - I'm not considering doing this myself. This house is beams on piers, so I don't have a foundation wall to drill through. Ugh though, digging in crawlspace?

Okay, so I guess a question I have - fully replacing my connection aside, what is involved in a root problem to make sure it's going to stay clear at least until next summer?


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Old 12-02-2010, 09:15 PM   #3
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Okay, so I guess a question I have - fully replacing my connection aside, what is involved in a root problem to make sure it's going to stay clear at least until next summer?
WillK -

That's a tough question. Ultimately it's sounds as though the line should be repaired or replaced. The problem with simply cleaning the line is; you never know how long it will last. You're just buying a little more time. You can buy yourself a little more time (maybe), by having a water laser done. But that's also more expensive. Every time the line is cleared you do further damage to the structural integrity of the pipe and joints. So even if the roots are cleaned out, you still have offsets, breaks, belly's, etc. that can catch solids and debris or hold water leading to a blockage. There's nothing wrong with a cleanout in the driveway if it's properly installed. It should have a traffic grade cast iron cover that can be driven over. My question would be is the entire length of the existing pipe under a concrete driveway? Or does is just cross the driveway somewhere?

There are several methods for repair. Obviously there's conventional excavation (simply digging a trench with a backhoe and laying new pipe).

Other methods would be:

Bursting - An entry pit is created at each end and new seamlessly fused SDR17 poly is pulled through underground with hydrolics. A steel "bursting" head breaks the old pipe out of the way and pulls the new pipe in it's path. This method can be beneficial if there are obstacles in the way (i.e. driveways, trees, etc.). Being seamless, it will never leak water. Thus, roots can't grow back. However if the old pipe has a belly (low spot) the new pipe follows the same path which means you'll have much greater flow characteristics, but you'll still have a belly.


Lining - First the line is cleaned with a high pressure jetter; then just like it sounds, a resin coated fiberglass liner is blown in sealing any breaks, cracks, offsets, etc. The benefit is just one entry pit, also more conducive if there are obstacles in the way, and seals the pipe from leaking water deterring future root growth. The problem being that it even more so follows the path of the old pipe, so you still end up with the bumps, offsets, etc.

If you're not sure where the pipe runs, have it cleared, then have someone run a camera and locate. Not only will you have a better idea of the condition of the line, but you'll know exactly what obstacles you face, and/or what to plan for.

Hope this helps.
Brad Penske, Operations Manager - Coeur d'Alene, ID
CONCEPTS, LLC - Sewer & Septic Line - Video Inspection, Locating, Consulting
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Old 12-02-2010, 09:37 PM   #4
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Thanks.. I'm pretty sure this line runs under the driveway, the vent stack penetrates the ground in the crawlspace near the driveway and the driveway covers all but a foot on each side from the house to the property line.

The driveway is in bad shape. I also don't think it's any more than 2" thick concrete, that's the thickness of a 4" chunk I pulled out. Driveway replacement is also on the to-do list.

What I'm less sure about is if this is my only connection to the city sewer. This stack serves the bathroom on the first floor and watercloset on the second floor, but the kitchen drain (unvented) goes into the ground at a different location and use of the kitchen drain has never caused gurgling in the bathroom - so I wonder, could this be a seperate attachment to the city sewer?
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:38 AM   #5
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The city usually supplies 1 sewer stub per lot. Your kitchen line may also drain seperately to a dry well and not connect to your sewer line. Or it could be tied in downstream of your blockage.
I see 2 choices: 1. clean,camera and locate your line. This will show you the depth, length, physical condition and any tie ins you may have such as your sink. 2. Call your city sewer dept. and see if they have any "asbuilt" sewer records for your property. Some municipalities have very good records, some don't.
Another thing to consider is the sewer stub located in the street. Ask the city who owns it. Is it yours or the city's? Be sure it is in good shape as well. You can replace the line on your property but what good does that do you if the line under the asphalt is bad too.
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