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Old 02-01-2014, 09:01 AM   #1
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Sewer Line to Main Connection


Thank you for any input as I cannot figure this out -
Last week our sewer backed up into the drain in the basement. Called a plumbing service and they came out to run assess the situation. 115' from the access in the basement, they felt resistance and drilled through. Alittle further and they felt a resistance that they could not get through. Sent a camera in that showed PVC, then maybe four feet of camera underwater, and then it showed clay tile. Unable to get camera past a joint in the tile that appears to be offset but not way offset if that makes sense. I inquired if it was a city issue or a homeowner issue and the city was contacted. After several calls to the city, they agreed to send a crew out to look at it. They sent the camera down and their camera shows roots where the PVC meets the tile. They also ran a camera down the sewer main and looked up at my connect which they said looks good.

Here are my questions:
1) Is the homeowner responsible for the connection from the homeowners pipe to the city tile or is the city?
2) The city camera did not go past the roots at this junction (bigger camera head I believe). When the plumbing company looked at it we did not see any roots but were still in water. How could there be water beyond the roots? I would think if it was just the junction that was wrong, anything past the junction would still drain properly.

Thank you for any help. I do have a link to the plumbers video on youtube and I do have a photo from the city if that helps at all.

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Old 02-01-2014, 09:56 AM   #2
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Sewer Line to Main Connection


It depends on your city policy. In my town the city takes responsibility from the property line out.

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Old 02-01-2014, 10:37 AM   #3
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Sewer Line to Main Connection


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It depends on your city policy. In my town the city takes responsibility from the property line out.
I agree- You won't get a firm answer here- best to talk to your local sewer people.

My town- the homeowner is responsible for all the lateral off the main connection. This includes on your property as well as what's in the street/alley

Can you dig up the connection point to make a spot repair? You need to see what the clay looks like with the camera
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Old 02-01-2014, 11:18 AM   #4
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Sewer Line to Main Connection


Thank you both for your quick responses. City says it has to do with the property line. Not really sure where to get that information but there is an easement in front of my house so I would have to find that info as well.

Unfortunately, I believe it is down about 10'. Don't get me wrong, I like to dig a hole on occasion, but thinking that is a professional job.
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Old 02-01-2014, 04:12 PM   #5
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Yes, it depends on your municipality. A homeowners responsibility in my city is all the way to the TEE at the city main. That means, even if it's under asphalt and you have to tear the street up to fix it, it's all your expense. Even fixing the street when you're done. And as you mentioned, that's not a DIY job. Requires in many cases; sewer permit, encroachment permit, traffic revision plans, trench boxes, compaction tests from engineers, and a licensed contractor to perform the work. That being said, if you're in a Northern state where it's cold. It's best to hold off on repair until spring. In this part of the country asphalt plants are closed. Our city requires a cold patch of concrete, then come back and lay asphalt in the spring. Basically doubling your expense of the street repair.

Most municipalities have their codes available for public viewing on a website. Either on your own city's website or an outsourced solution like Sterling Codifiers.

Where are you located?
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Old 02-01-2014, 04:13 PM   #6
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Oh and I would be interested to see the video on youtube if you can post a link.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:15 PM   #7
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Thanks Lateral....

Here is the you tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY4zDgi8bIE

It is weird, don't really see any evidence of roots in this video. When the city did their video, first thing you saw was evidence of roots at PVC tile junction and they could not get past them.

Issue does seem to be on the edge of the easement which is about 7' inside the sidewalks. City says it is my responsibility if on private property and so I am guessing even though it is an easement (which I believe is for the sewer) it is mine to deal with.

Location is NW OHIO.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:24 PM   #8
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I suspect the clay pipe is the beginning of the city portion of the line. That would be the only reason to change pipe types. That is exactly what I found when I had my line repaired. The orangeburg pipe on my property changed to clay at the property line.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:48 PM   #9
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Thanks Lateral....

Here is the you tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY4zDgi8bIE

It is weird, don't really see any evidence of roots in this video. When the city did their video, first thing you saw was evidence of roots at PVC tile junction and they could not get past them.

Issue does seem to be on the edge of the easement which is about 7' inside the sidewalks. City says it is my responsibility if on private property and so I am guessing even though it is an easement (which I believe is for the sewer) it is mine to deal with.

Location is NW OHIO.
It's hard to tell if there are any roots there since it's under water. I think the largest problem is the offset at the PVC to clay transition catching paper and solids. It's a fairly large offset considering it's holding water back approx. 4'. That creates that "ponding" effect which, over time keeps building up solids, greatly impedes flow, and eventually leads to a soft blockage. The resistance they felt when snaking was likely the offset joint. From what I can tell, a larger skid on that camera would allow it to get over that offset. Advancing further down the line with the camera would be beneficial to determine the condition of the rest of the clay piping. Then getting an accurate locate on that transition will be the next step.

Did the city run the camera from their main or from your house?

When was the house built?
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Old 02-01-2014, 08:08 PM   #10
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I suspect the clay pipe is the beginning of the city portion of the line. That would be the only reason to change pipe types. That is exactly what I found when I had my line repaired. The orangeburg pipe on my property changed to clay at the property line.
Not necessarily. If the previous owner had replaced the original sewer line, they may have just made the connection to the old clay at the property line. Also, Orangeburg was just a cheaper and easier material to use.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:22 PM   #11
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In my case my father was the builder of this house so it was built with oragngeburg to the property line and then transitioned to clay. Must have been city policy to be using clay.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:11 AM   #12
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The house was built in the mid 70s. City shot film same direction as the plumber (house to the street). Here is the picture they shot but it is hard to see (I think I was able to attach it). They never got to the clay but say that the clay is theirs. This is why they feel it is at the junction but I still don't understand why there would be water on the far side of this (where the plumber's camera saw the tile but the city could not get to) if there was not a problem with the clay (which my thought was is causing the offset.

My current feeling is to pay someone to dig to see what was between the roots and the offset tile that the plumber saw. My guess is though once we disturb the soil, it is assumed that we caused whatever damage is there.
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Old 02-02-2014, 03:29 PM   #13
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From the video you posted, I never saw standing water on the clay side. Just upstream of the transition.

The sludge and debris on the ceiling of the piping indicates back-ups have occurred more than once. This may have just been the first time you've noticed it. All of that sludgy stuff should be cleaned up to help improve flow. The entire line is a bit gunked up. That slows everything down, so by the time it gets to that transition there's little velocity to keep it moving. The PVC has likely pulled away a bit from the clay and/or was never connected properly in the first place. All that holds the two together would be a rubber Fernco. The only way to clean it up the inside of the pipe would be with a high pressure jetter.

The line is maintainable in its current state. Hydro jetting it periodically and proactively may be your best option cost wise. You could maintain it for several years before justifying the cost of excavation. To bring it back up to proper grade would likely require a good 10' of pipe to be replaced and it still may not be perfect.
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Old 02-03-2014, 02:30 PM   #14
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Thank you for the clear advice...that really helps
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:57 PM   #15
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Thank you for the clear advice...that really helps
No problem. Keep us posted and let us know if you have any more questions.

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