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Old 07-01-2010, 10:34 PM   #1
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sewer collapse


I am a single parent with limited funds. My sewer line from the front of the house to the main line has collapsed. My dad and I tried the rooter method and got stuck. I hired someone to roto-rooter it. He told me the
line was collapsed about 8 foot from the cleanout where he entered the roto-rooter. That it had become stuck with him, also.
Help!! I'm totally ignorant of the next steps I need to take. My sister and my dad will help me when I know what to do/
I did talk to a man with a backhoe and he wanted $ 150 dollars just to dig up the line and cover it after the repair was completed. Does this sound reasonable?
Thanks a lot for any info any of you can send me.

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Old 07-02-2010, 12:06 AM   #2
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sewer collapse


A sewer line project is an unfortunate way to begin your DIY career. If you truly need to do it yourself, you are in for some very heavy work.

First of all, you are almost certainly going to need a permit from the sewer company to install a new line. Start by getting it. Then you are going to need to dig up the old line and dispose of it legally. Then you install your new line, which is usually PVC, but check first with the sewer company, they may require ductile iron.

You need to dig an appropriate trench,again check with the sewer company for the required size and bedding for the pipe. Tapping into the city or town line probably has to be done by the sewer company, rarely will they allow you to do your own connection. So you install the pipe to the specified location, typically about five feet from the main, and the sewer company does the rest. They will of course charge you for the final connection.

I appreciate that you have limited funds, but unfortunately you are almost certainly dealing with a public utility, and you are going to need to do things their way. This means proper materials, proper trenching, and proper connection procedures.

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Old 07-02-2010, 06:49 AM   #3
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sewer collapse


And he means DIG!!!!! Our sewer lines are 10-13' down. Any many cities will only allow a licesnsed plumber to do that work.
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:25 AM   #4
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First off how does the rooter guy know it's collapsed? Did he run a camera to determine the problem? Did he locate it for you? Do you have any large trees, sidewalks, patios, decks, or other obstructions that may be in the way of conventional excavation? Do you have basement plumbing?

It's hard to determine whether this will be a spot repair or an entire line replacement. If you and the rooter guy were unable to get through that spot with a cable and blades, we can only speculate what the condition of the line is further downstream.

If your home was built prior to the mid-1970's the sewer pipe is most likely made of vitrified clay or bituminous fiber (aka Orangeburg). Orangeburg is more likely to have collapsed or suffered severe delamination. It's basically rolled tar paper. Looks like this.

Starting with a spot repair will be your best bet. Unfortunately however, you won't know what the rest of the line looks like until you have it exposed. Not to alarm you, but this could turn into an entire line replacement. Hopefully it's clay pipe and the rest is in fair condition. In that case you would simply make your spot repair connecting to the existing clay pipe. You may then be able to just maintain the line for the next X#? years.

Depending on the depth of the line (based on a digital locate) you may be able to hand dig it. The depth of the line will vary based on the depth of the city main, whether you have basement plumbing or not, etc. Could be between 3' and 10' maybe diving as deep as 14' under the street.

If there are obstructions in the way as I mentioned earlier, you may be looking at a "burst", a method which is less invasive on landscaping, obstructions, etc. Basically an entry and exit pit are made (near the house and near the street) then a new fused poly line is pulled through underground with hydrolics "bursting" the old pipe out of the way and pulling the new pipe in it's path.

As far as the reasonability of $150 you mentioned, sounds fair based on a rented backhoe and operator around $75hr.

There are steps you will need to take. I would first call your city building and planning division and ask whether you can make the repair yourself or if you need to have a licensed contractor do it. You'll need to, (or contractor will need to) pull a permit, call in locates (811), may require 48hrs notice, then start digging to further determine the severity of the problem. After all said and done the city inspector will come out for an inspection prior to back-fill.

You may also want to call your insurance company. Although most companies exclude coverage on repairs, some will pay for the cost of the excavation to expose the pipe.
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Old 07-03-2010, 11:18 PM   #5
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The $150 to dig sounds like a great deal to me. We had the same problem at our house a few years ago, with a collapsed clay pipe just outside the foundation wall. We had Roto-Rooter do the excavation and repair, and the bill was in the neighborhood of $4,000, with much of that being the digging.
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Old 08-04-2010, 10:29 AM   #6
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Curious, what was the outcome with this?

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