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Old 11-15-2010, 09:35 AM   #1
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


I need to replace my sewer line that runs to the street. I know the cost can be extreme and was thinking about doing it myself (with help of course). I have limited experience with plumbing projects, but my grandpa is a licensed contractor (never worked as one only considered it). He has a lot of plumbling experience, but I'm not sure if he's ever tackled this type of project.

My question is this-- Is most of the work related to digging the trench? After that is it pretty much just attaching a pipe and making sure it runs at the proper pitch? It is a relatively short run (45 or 50 feet) and there are no trees or landscaping along the pipe run. Thanks for any advice!

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Old 11-15-2010, 09:40 AM   #2
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


its hard. harder than a priest at a playground . seriously though, with a question like that i think you need to get more estimates. costs can be extreme, but normally that's because its got a lot of stuff in the way or its really deep. if its wide open like you say it is, get some more quotes and find out what is entailed with the quote. some companies out there make almost all their profit on sewer replacement so they bid em high and hope they get em

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Old 11-15-2010, 09:41 AM   #3
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


I don't think this falls into the category of a do it yourself project.

Most cities won't let anyone but licensed contractors touch their stuff.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:03 AM   #4
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


I do have a licensed contractor, my grandfather. I haven't talked to him about it yet but I was wondering how feasible it would be to do this on our own.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:06 AM   #5
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


Quote:
My question is this-- Is most of the work related to digging the trench? After that is it pretty much just attaching a pipe and making sure it runs at the proper pitch? It is a relatively short run (45 or 50 feet) and there are no trees or landscaping along the pipe run.
Ayuh,... Diggin' the trench, 'n Not running into unknown Objects is the Big thing...

Diggin' up somebodyelse's wire or something will Really ruin your day, 'n Co$t$ a $mall fortune...
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:09 AM   #6
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


I would of course mark all of the lines, but I know the gas line does not run into that side of the house, and there are no underground wires where I live.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:32 AM   #7
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


You should research what is necessary to have your underground utilities marked, in Michigan we have to call 1-800-miss-dig at least 3 days before excavation. It's a service that contacts all utilities and has them mark their underground lines, and anywhere near these you have to hand dig.

Of course, you're digging for a sewer line anyway...

I'd suggest starting with your local utilities who can presumably tell you if such a program exists in your area or who at least you can have individiaully mark any underground lines anyway.

Plus you'd have to contact your city anyway about whether they allow homeowner permits for this kind of work.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:37 AM   #8
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


Thanks Will. I am actually in Michigan as well and I am aware of Miss Dig. I do plan on calling my city (Clawson, we're practically neighbors) before I even begin to do anything. If this is something I can tackle with the help of family I will likely wait until spring when it's warmer. I will probably have to snake out the sewer at least once more before then though.
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Old 11-15-2010, 02:57 PM   #9
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


When I had my house in Clawson, I rented a trench digger for burying the gas and electric to the pool I put in. I remember a lot of tree roots. Most front yards had 2 trees along the street, the city had removed one of mine for disease or something. Another split in half and fell next to my cars on the driveway in a wind storm. You may find tree roots even if there isn't a tree.

That said, I don't remember the ground composition, but it wasn't as tough as the clay in Indiana! For Royal Oak, it's definitely very sandy and when I get to the part where I'm digging foundation under my house, I'm expecting to be able to do a lot of it by hand, even to the 42" depth it will have to be.

FYI for anyone else curious, anything wire in Clawson is going to be on a pole. So in this case it's gas, electric and sewer to watch out for. And Clawson wasn't too strict about what you can do when I lived there 4 years ago, although it could change if anyone that was there has since retired - certainly possible, I know the guy that handles sidewalks retired and left some bad paperwork, and as a result we got billed for a sidewalk repair that was a result if their tree removal which was not supposed to cost us anything.

ETA: (When I say Clawson isn't too strict, in my experience they'll tell you anything they see wrong and come back again when you've done any extra work without charging you, they're easy to get along with. They have plenty of experience and if you have questions, ask because they'll help)

Last edited by WillK; 11-15-2010 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 11-15-2010, 03:26 PM   #10
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


Thanks again Will. I checked the Clawson website and any permits involving the sewer need to be applied for by a licensed plumber. Does a licensed contractor qualify as a licensed plumber? As I said in my first post my grandfather is a licensed contractor and I have very little doubt about his ability for a project like this. He would be more of a supervisor/advisor than an active participant though, as I'm not about to make my grandpa dig a trench and get personal with a sewer pipe.
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Old 11-15-2010, 04:03 PM   #11
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


Probably a question best asked of the building department. But the permit forms that they have online are homeowner's permits, so it has to be the homeowner that is applying and it includes an affidavit that you are assuming the responsibilities of a contractor.

Actually I'm not sure where you saw it stating a licensed plumber must pull the permit... The schedule of fees says commercial plumbing work a State of Michigan licensed plumbing contractor cal only pull a permit, but your project is residential.

If it was required, your grandfather's license would have to be current, if he's retired his license may be expired.

I'd still recommend getting quotes, you may be able to ask about price breaks if you do the digging to uncover the old pipes.

Typical age of homes in Clawson probably means this might be cast iron pipe, by the way. I know my stack in Clawson was cast iron, I had to cut into it to add a wye for a second bathroom and I did it the hard way - took forever with a sawzall. A soil pipe cutter, I hear, is much easier. I'll defer to others to say more about what is involved with this kind of work, I haven't done and don't plan on doing any underground sewer pipe work.
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:22 PM   #12
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


here it requires more than a licensed contractor. You have to be certified licensed plumber. 4' out of the house with PVC & you have to change over to ductile iron if connecting to county / city sewer
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:50 PM   #13
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How hard is it to replace a sewer line from the house to the street?


You and grandpa may be able to do it but there are some serious concerns before you attempt it.

First, obviously it is going to have to be allowed by whomever rules over that in your area.

then, you should check with the muni sewer people to try to determine how deep the tie in is. I know around my area, 15 feet deep isn't unheard of. Digging a trench that deep can be deadly without proper methods employed. In fact, anything over waist deep (in the paid world) requires definite trenching techniques, either by terracing, width requirements, or retention walls. I do not know if these requirements are imposed on a private individual but even if not, they need to be followed anyway. A cave in can become deadly very easily and very quickly.

if the muni mainline is under the asphalted section of the road, there is going to be requirements to either opening up the surface or if undercutting, proper fill methods to assure a stable roadway.

and if this is more that a few feet deep, you will likely want to use a backhoe or excavator.

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