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Looking for plumbing advice (trees breaching into our pipes through the cities connection)

Posted on 09/27/2012 4:17:45 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA

We recently had some sewage make it's way up from the drains in our basement. When plumbers were called out, they found that where our pipe connects with the main sewer line, the terra cotta junction has been breached by tree roots. Keep in mind this is out about 10 feet into the street from the curb and our pipes are intact......the only part which has been breached was the city's terra cotta junction to the main sewer line. And this was shown by a camera sent down into the pipe. When talking to the plumber's however, we were shocked to hear them say that we are responsible for digging up the street, and replacing weak joints which are not even ours! And the job to do this would cost approximately $20,000!

Has anyone been through something similar? I believe this is entirely unfair and would like to fight it, but I would like to hear from people who may have gone through something similar, as I am learning that this is fairly common. But I am still shocked that we are responsible for something 10 feet from the curb, and which has been broken but is not even ours, as our pipe is still intact.

I never thought I could like government any less.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: government; plumbing; vanity
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1 posted on 09/27/2012 4:17:49 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA
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To: Red in Blue PA

If its under the street, then its their job to fix it


2 posted on 09/27/2012 4:19:24 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Call your city maintenance department because it sounds to me like your plumber is trying to scam you.


3 posted on 09/27/2012 4:20:49 PM PDT by MeganC (January 20, 2013: The end of an error.)
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To: GeronL

Many sewer utilities are responsible only for the main sewer and the person whose lateral is involved is responsible for everything else including the tap.


4 posted on 09/27/2012 4:22:28 PM PDT by John W (Viva Cristo Rey!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Doesn’t sound right to me. I would bitch to my city council person. Flush some copper sulfate crystals down your toilet a couple times per week to kill the roots.


5 posted on 09/27/2012 4:22:35 PM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open (<o> ---)
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To: MeganC
Call your city maintenance department because it sounds to me like your plumber is trying to scam you.

On the contrary, these guys were not trying to sell us anything. They said we had years before this should prove to be a problem again, as they removed some roots in the pipe.
6 posted on 09/27/2012 4:23:14 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: MeganC; Red in Blue PA

That’s a very good point. You should always call them before a plumber in case it is the city’s problem.


7 posted on 09/27/2012 4:23:40 PM PDT by John W (Viva Cristo Rey!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Get some weed killer that is intended to be connected on the
end of a hose (concentrated) and flush it down the drain.

Repeat a little later.

The weed killer will be absorbed by the tree roots and that will kill them further up the pipe than just a drain cleaner.


8 posted on 09/27/2012 4:24:55 PM PDT by Dan(9698)
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To: John W

Well, I think here it stops at the property line or where it meets the city line at the property


9 posted on 09/27/2012 4:24:55 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: John W
Many sewer utilities are responsible only for the main sewer and the person whose lateral is involved is responsible for everything else including the tap.

I don't think it would bother me so much if the connection was iron or something similar. But when I heard terra cotta connection, I was thoroughly peeved. And I also had no idea this was the way it worked.
10 posted on 09/27/2012 4:24:55 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

There are materials and equipment today where, for some situations, they can seal up a pipe from the inside without digging. I saw this on one of those home repair shows, but I have no idea which one. You might want to google a bit.

It may be happening to other houses. With these local politicians, the towns are probably all going broke, and they probably may need the right motivation, i.e., a lot of angry constituents or legal action, to get them to crack open the checkbook. For what municipal funds Should be going towards. I bet they’re right there to collect property taxes, though.


11 posted on 09/27/2012 4:25:52 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves.)
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To: Red in Blue PA

More than likely his can be fixed with a “no dig” option. Google “slip lining,or pipe bursting” for contractors in your area. Still expensive but you won’t have to bond a road cut.


12 posted on 09/27/2012 4:26:31 PM PDT by VTenigma
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To: PieterCasparzen

When we were discussing options, I wondered if there was something similar to the tire sealant which seals from the inside. Will need to Google that. Thanks. Most likely a short term fix though.


13 posted on 09/27/2012 4:27:34 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

I tried to find the story but I know there was a fraud case last summer involving plumbers that were doing the same thing you mentioned here in and around Minneapolis. But maybe the guy is telling the truth and that is the job that has to be done. Talk to the city and get three bids to do the work.


14 posted on 09/27/2012 4:27:48 PM PDT by Sawdring
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To: smokingfrog

***Flush some copper sulfate crystals down your toilet a couple times per week to kill the roots.***

A friend of mine did that. It killed every tree on the local line.

He then had a rotary cutter company come in. They rooted out his line and left. He still had problems so he called a different roto-rooter company.

They hit a blockage which would not budge, so the pulled out their cutting head, and caught in it was the cutting head which had broken off from the last rooter company he had called.

Once that was out of the way, they then rooted out the line and he never had another problem.


15 posted on 09/27/2012 4:28:13 PM PDT by Ruy Dias de Bivar
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To: VTenigma

Will definitely look into that. Do you know if that process can be used where the pipe meets the main sewer line?


16 posted on 09/27/2012 4:30:37 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: MeganC

Plumber is giving a ball park IF its on the homeowners side or the run and probably wouldnt do the job.


17 posted on 09/27/2012 4:31:51 PM PDT by CGASMIA68
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To: Ruy Dias de Bivar
A friend of mine did that. It killed every tree on the local line. He then had a rotary cutter company come in. They rooted out his line and left.

When reading about this issue, I learned that tree roots can keep growing for up to 7 years after a tree is removed.
18 posted on 09/27/2012 4:32:15 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

FWIW, I had a similar issue in Livonia MI.

Long story short, I was responsible for everything up to and including my connection to the main. Which was across the street from my house.

The repairs did not dig up the street though, just all of my front yard and they slid the pipe through under the street without digging that up.

I would check on your local laws though for sure. What else can they say other than no?

Good luck.


19 posted on 09/27/2012 4:34:56 PM PDT by steve1848
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To: Red in Blue PA
This may be a better way to go and much cheaper. You can use Copper Sulfate crystals to clear the roots. You may still need the plumber to re-router root the line, but it is a much cheaper and effective way to go. Just google copper sulfate for a supplier.

Sewer lines are pretty deep and you will also need a road cut for the dig. You are also looking at shoring of the hole. This is all very expensive. I would try the copper sulfate first.

Hope this helps.
20 posted on 09/27/2012 4:35:17 PM PDT by PA Engineer (What if the rabbit hole is endless?)
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To: Red in Blue PA

I’m with geronl, if the break is on city property, the city should repair it. 20000 seems out of line. I had replaced the entire line at my previous home to the tune of 8k. Maybe, you could work out something with the city to share the costs. Or periodically pour some root eating products down the line and deal with it. You could install a check valve for a couple of hundred bucks. Hint ..... don’t tell city that you have check valve. Good luck.


21 posted on 09/27/2012 4:35:27 PM PDT by Brasky
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To: Red in Blue PA
The old red clay pipe was the most common used years ago and now most if it is failing.

Usually, and I say only usually, the city is responsible only for providing a tap on the main line, beyond that it's the property owners problem.

Sewer line problems are expensive, you get the line cleaned but roots will grow back, poisons take time and the roots will grow back since evidently the pipe joints have opened up.

Very like the pipe will have to be replaced to solve your problem.

22 posted on 09/27/2012 4:35:42 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Whose tree do the roots belong to?


23 posted on 09/27/2012 4:38:14 PM PDT by old school
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To: count-your-change
Very like the pipe will have to be replaced to solve your problem.

That is what I am starting to thing. Minimum 2 day job. ANd because the job is so deep (15 feet) OSHA requires a brace which costs $1000 grand a day. That is just for starters. I think the permits are around $500 too. ANd that's not even counting the heaving machinery yet.
24 posted on 09/27/2012 4:39:51 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

We were told that same thing - that WE were responsible for digging up the City street and fixing the pipe where it was offset at the joint to the main sewer. It was going to be $7K. We decided to go to Rome instead, haha. Honestly!! My friend had to pay for the sewer connection from her house, set way back, to the center of the road sewer pipe. City decided the foothill communities here in Los Angeles could no longer have cesspools, even tho the soil is alluvial, huge boulders and such.


25 posted on 09/27/2012 4:39:57 PM PDT by bboop (does not suffer fools gladly)
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To: old school

Us.


26 posted on 09/27/2012 4:40:16 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: bboop

So the city paid for the fixes eventually?


27 posted on 09/27/2012 4:41:40 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: smokingfrog

Yup, root killer helped clean out our pipes too. Something you mix x + y, get it in fast, and don’t flush for 5 hours. (Can you tell I am NOT a chemist?).


28 posted on 09/27/2012 4:41:48 PM PDT by bboop (does not suffer fools gladly)
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To: Red in Blue PA

When you contact the city sewer department again you should find out what the written policy is and if there are any exceptions. Have them send you a copy; a lot of times the original policy is a little fuzzy in the minds of those who should know it well. Many places the owner is responsible all the way to the main line however in some places if the sewer is very deep there may be excecptions and the city might take responsibility.

There are lots of places in the country where the sewer systems were put in sixty or more years ago and even the mains are starting to fall apart. If you live in one of those places and you can keep your system limping along long enough without major repairs; there is a good chance the city will be replacing the main before you have to lay out any big bucks. In that case they would be doing the repair anyway.

I really like the other suggestions here about how to kill the roots causing the problem. Maybe you can figure out which tree they are coming from and have it removed. I had a water line broken by a tree roots in our front yard. My wife didn’t want me cutting it down. I am worried that a few years from now we will be facing the same problem again.


29 posted on 09/27/2012 4:42:09 PM PDT by fireman15 (Check your facts before making ignorant statements.)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Do your research, but overall the same thing here in NY State - the property owner is responsible for the connection. Tree roots are a big problem here as well.

In fact, the house I live in now must have had a similar problem, because we learned that the previous owners had to dig a new connection from the basement into the street sewer.


30 posted on 09/27/2012 4:43:54 PM PDT by PGR88
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To: Red in Blue PA

In our city it is the homeowner’s responsibility. But the city charges every homeowner an annual fee that goes into a fund to help offset the cost when it arises. Homeowner pays a third and the city two thirds.


31 posted on 09/27/2012 4:44:04 PM PDT by Uncle Chip
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To: Red in Blue PA

They can line the pipes from the inside. It is expensive (”Cadillac” they told us) but a very good way to go. We have a lot of trees around, and they LOVE the sewer pipes of course. We use the RootX like our plumber suggested and have saved a lot of money on RotoRooter.


32 posted on 09/27/2012 4:45:04 PM PDT by bboop (does not suffer fools gladly)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Contrary to popular belief...

Plant roots, of any kind, don’t have brains. They don’t know what’s in a pipe; water, sewage, gas, whatever. The only way they can invade a pipe is *if it’s leaking, through a hole in the pipe*, itself.

A plant’s root system will normally grow around a pipe, of any size, if it’s not leaking a liquid, just as they would grow around a rock or log, buried underground. Roots are attracted to liquid, as nourishment. A gas is generally poisonous to plant root systems.

The leaking pipe will have to be dug-up and replaced.


33 posted on 09/27/2012 4:45:56 PM PDT by carriage_hill (Libs, dems, unions, leftist scum & murderous muzzies - are like bacteria: attack, attack, attack!)
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To: fireman15
That is sort of the line of thinking I had. The house was built in 1948. If these problems begin to arise more and more, something may be done in another 10 or so years.

When you contact the city sewer department again you should find out what the written policy is and if there are any exceptions. Have them send you a copy; a lot of times the original policy is a little fuzzy in the minds of those who should know it well. Many places the owner is responsible all the way to the main line however in some places if the sewer is very deep there may be excecptions and the city might take responsibility.

Again, excellent advice. I will be doing this.
34 posted on 09/27/2012 4:46:19 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Brasky

“You could install a check valve for a couple of hundred bucks. Hint ..... don’t tell city that you have check valve. Good luck.”

Yup! That’s what my Dad did when he built his dreamhouse. Won’t help your currant problem, But it will stop sewerage from backing up into your basement.


35 posted on 09/27/2012 4:48:35 PM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Yup, it’s like that here too. They would have had to dig a deep trench, etc. I liked the inside-sleeve plan, but the RootX did the trick. For now.


36 posted on 09/27/2012 4:48:47 PM PDT by bboop (does not suffer fools gladly)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Every two years we paid $50 to roto our sewer out because of tree roots.
That’s not a lot.

Likely many others will be having the same problem and the city will come through with a plan for doing everyone.
The EPA may require them to!

Meanwhile find the tree and kill it.


37 posted on 09/27/2012 4:49:24 PM PDT by mrsmith (Dumb sluts: Lifeblood of the Media, Backbone of the Democrat Party!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

Check with the city. Politicians can be corrupt, which means the law doesn’t always make sense. For instance, where I live the homeowner is responsible for the city sidewalk.


38 posted on 09/27/2012 4:50:36 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: Red in Blue PA
I had my sewer back up in my basement when I first bought my home (I'm the second owner). The plumber pulled up tree roots through my drain pipe as well. He recommended buying some root killer granules and flushing it down my toilet twice a year. I've been doing this the past four years and I have not had a problem with the roots since.

I don't remember if my plumber said anything about who would bear the cost of replacing the street pipe but I've always heard stories that the homeowner becomes liable. Anyway, the cheap solution is working for me quite well.

39 posted on 09/27/2012 4:53:00 PM PDT by rabidralph
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To: mrsmith
Meanwhile find the tree and kill it.

There are two trees, side by side and each about 60 feet tall. The pipe goes between them. To take them down and grind the rotts would probably cost $7000. And that would not even begin to address the breached joint.
40 posted on 09/27/2012 4:53:08 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Red in Blue PA
I had a similar problem in a house I rented. About twice a year the line had to be cleaned out, finally I moved and left it to someone else.

Oft times in older tract houses cheap tough trees were planted that would survive anything but they were usually ones that put down deep roots and were water loving.

My plumber wanted $750 to install another clean out and recommend cutting down the problem tree, several more hundreds, or replacing the whole run of pipe. $2000 doesn't seem unreasonable even if painful for the work you suggest.

41 posted on 09/27/2012 4:54:10 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Red in Blue PA

The city was not going to pay for it. The pipe was offset slightly where it joined the main line, and there were problem roots (city trees, if I remember correctly). We used RootX and did NOTHING. The city did nothing. My husband thinks it was a scam, looking back.


42 posted on 09/27/2012 4:54:10 PM PDT by bboop (does not suffer fools gladly)
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To: count-your-change

$20,000, not $2,000.

They would be digging 15 feet down however, through concrete.


43 posted on 09/27/2012 4:57:30 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

I would for a certainty try the cheapest thing first. If it doesn’t work you’re out a few bucks and no harm, but I just haven’t had good experience with poisons, etc. over time.


44 posted on 09/27/2012 5:00:10 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: GeronL

I would ask the plumber if its possible to sip a large pex plastic pipe into the current pipe to prevent any future issues. I have an illegal water pipe. The builder put 1-1/4 inch well pipe(inspectors name was payola) instead of copper. Was talking to the town water guys, who were all too familiar with the issue and the said one of their “friends” had a rig to pull a correct copper pipe to the city connection. I was restoring a 1870’s house with a bad gas pipe. The plumber used the old pipe as a conduit to push a new pipe. In your case all you need is a barrier, so even if the connection isn’t perfect, all you want is to prevent the terracotta from being a problem down the road. Since the likelyhood is the pipe is straight you might even be able to dig up a 6-10 foot section on your property and shove some pvc through your current pipe.

just my 2 cents


45 posted on 09/27/2012 5:01:32 PM PDT by waynesa98
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To: Red in Blue PA
They said we had years before this should prove to be a problem again, as they removed some roots in the pipe.

If that is the case, the Copper Sulfate solution is a good one. They sell it in the plumbing department of the hardware store. It's not expensive, but you have to keep on top of it and do it regularly.

I had this happen, and the roots got too thick so I had to have it dug up and fixed. The city's responsibility ends at their pipe, which makes the junction your problem. Sorry.

46 posted on 09/27/2012 5:02:40 PM PDT by Cyber Liberty (Obama considers the Third World morally superior to the United States.)
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To: Cyber Liberty

Go to the end of your property, dig up the end of your pipe and stick a new piece on it and shoot it into the street! k probably not a good idea but it would be fun!!!


47 posted on 09/27/2012 5:05:28 PM PDT by Ab Alius Domitor ("In the end; the winner")
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To: Red in Blue PA

Twenty? Do you have 15 feet of solid concrete? The street and under soil can’t be more than a few feet, under that soil.

Twenty thou sounds a bit much given a couple days use of a back hoe and trench shoring.


48 posted on 09/27/2012 5:07:22 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: count-your-change

No, not all concrete. But 15 feet down and through concrete.


49 posted on 09/27/2012 5:08:25 PM PDT by Red in Blue PA (Read SCOTUS Castle Rock vs Gonzales before dialing 911!)
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To: Red in Blue PA

I wish you well. Ouch!


50 posted on 09/27/2012 5:13:22 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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