Going Off Grid With The Sewer

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Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2017 - 10:11pm PT
To quote a local A license contractor "Oceanside is really proud of their right of ways". I would be jack hammering and digging right now if it was allowed. It really is easy plumbing Maybe i could start Friday night and by the time code enforcement got wind of it I would be done. Life is not that simple, I am hostage to the system.
zBrown

Ice climber
Dec 6, 2017 - 11:08pm PT
What is the nature of the pipe and the damage? How was it discovered? Do you have a video?

I had a Tree root that infiltrated a cracked elbow and grew to about twenty feet or so with about a 4-6 inch diameter. The digging (in very rocky soil) was the hard part. Once the pipe was exposed and the pipe "incision" was made it was possible to pull the roots out and splice in a new elbow and segment.

The pipe is easily forty years old and still works well for it's intended purpose of letting the schitt and water run downhill

The guy who came out was a camera & $$ man. Funny how these affairs end up in court
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2017 - 11:20pm PT
Pipe is 60 years old, clay. We had a clog that I could not clear with my snake, I could not get past about 60 feet. Professionals came in, same result. Sent a camera in, we saw some small roots and some misalignment along the line at several places, probably due to settling. If the road was not there I would not think twice about digging the whole thing up.

Camera hit an obstruction at 61 feet too, so we decided to do the jet cleaning to try to clear out the pipe. Upon cleaning camera was sent in again and we discovered the obstruction at 61 feet was the lateral breaking at the 90 that dropped into the main sewer line. It probably broke because of settling because it was couple of inches low and we could see the side of the pipe it was previously connected to.

In spite of the partial blockage the sewer worked for years with occasional snaking by me. The straw that broke the camels back was a tenant that flushed a lot of baby wipes down the toilet. hopefully that has stopped and the sewer line will continue working until repaired.

No way to fixed the damage at 61 feet without digging, the rest of the damage can be fixed by relining. Hopefully it is done settling. After reading up about composting toilets I am very tempted to forego the repair and get composting toilets. Not sure how receptive my tenants would be to a radical change in that aspect of life.
nah000

climber
now/here
Dec 6, 2017 - 11:29pm PT
At least one hole will have to be opened on the street.

i'm assuming the street's paved?

and if it's paved i'm guessing your city has a list of indemnified/pre-screened contractors who are allowed to do the work? or can you hire whoever?

cause if it's similar to our situation then boy howdy it sucks to be the guy at the end of the [figurative and literal] line: every time we tear down an inner city house and build a new one, yyc requires us/the home owner to replace the mains connection to the tune of a $20k [admittedly canuckbuck] minimum charge [for both the work and all of the city fees for road and sidewalk repair that go along with it].

basically it typically costs us as much to tear down and dispose of an old house, and get a new hole excavated, as it does to do the requisite mains connection replacement.



ahhhhh... the joys of cities transferring the "burdens" of inner city living onto the urban dweller, while the new suburbs have their new schools paid for by tax payer doll hairs.
zBrown

Ice climber
Dec 7, 2017 - 12:00am PT
Ironic how things settle out. I'm quite sure that the earth moving was what cracked my pipe in the first place (about 15 feet from the wall of the house). I never thought to look closely at the far end where it connects to the main, since Light was evident at the end of the tunnel.

No problem I say. I'll just take a look at the video.

No (promised) video my camera man says .... We're arguing


After hearing your story, I suppose I'm fortunate


The folks across the street from my mom's house had a similar situation and after some extensive wrangling with the city got the city to bear the repair costs. I'll see if I can find out how from their daughter

One last point. I get solicitations to buy insurance to cover this sort of occurrence. They go right into the waste basket. I can see some dumpster diving on the horizon

Bruce Morris

Trad climber
Soulsbyville, California
Dec 7, 2017 - 12:13am PT
Isn't there some kind of exorbitant insurance coverage you could have paid for against the contingency you're now facing? I seem to recall that when I lived in Belmont there was always a note in my mailbox soliciting insurance for that section of sewer pipe in front of the house that ran under the street.
Lorenzo

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
Dec 7, 2017 - 01:20am PT
You might want to check into a couple things.

I had a new sewer put in in 2014 that involved about 300í of 12Ē sewer line and a manhole in the street.
City sewer in street
City sewer in street
Credit: Lorenzo

I negotiated with the city and they covered all but $5k in the public right of way. They showed me their costs, and it was about $60k of work.
That included everything in the street and to the property line 1í my side of the sidewalk. I paid for part of the cost for distance from the manhole to my property line, including a new driveway apron and sidewalk, as the new sewer went under my driveway.. ( the old sewer ran through the neighborís yard, which is no longer permitted, which is why the city had to run a new sewer main.)

the city used their contractors for all that work.

For the portion on my property , I found a company that used a hydraulic ram to push a rod through the ground and pull back the new 60í sewer pipe from the property line.
This was not a re-lining of an existing sewer, but a whole new line.
Rod ram
Rod ram
Credit: Lorenzo


They dug about a 2íx4í hole 6í-8í deep at each end to make the connections

Connection at property line
Connection at property line
Credit: Lorenzo

They did the new sewer on my property in 2 days including all the concrete patching and some connections in my basement for about $12k. So my total cost came to about $17k. If I had the work done by somebody who did it with an open trench, the cost I got was almost twice that.

The ram is steerable. It will go around corners ( maybe 30í radius turn) and is guided by a sort of metal detector thingy on the surface. They got to within an inch or two of perfect alignment laterally, and perfect for grade. The new sewer is one piece of semi-flexible polypropylene.


Itís not the first time I used these guys. Before I retired I had them do a gas feed, a new water service and two other sewers on jobs I ran. Itís much less disruptive than other methods, especially if the lines go under existing infrastructure.

Just before the year warrantee ran out I had the sewer scoped, and everything was ok.

One thing I did find out from the city is that no residences in city limits are legally habitable without a sewer hookup. You ought to check with your jurisdiction.

Crazy Bat

Sport climber
Birmingham, AL & Seweanee, TN
Dec 7, 2017 - 04:38am PT
Have you checked to see if your homeowner's will cover it?
toejahm

Trad climber
Chatsworth, CA
Dec 7, 2017 - 06:06am PT
Lots of good advice here, especially Lorenzo's.
two reminders: 1. The governing jurisdiction may not allow going off grid or composting human waste. 2. Call Dig Alert even before digging on your own property. Many utilities have right always through private property and striking a fiber optics cable will make your sewer repair seem almost reasonable.
Peace,
Ken
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Dec 7, 2017 - 06:38am PT
Jon...Maybe do the excavation yourself and hire a plumber for the rest...Still a bunch of miserable mind numbing work...Oh yeah...Dig alert and get a spotter for the mini-excavater...
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
Dec 7, 2017 - 07:01am PT
... 50 feet under a city street
my heart goes out to you, now that it has restarted ... i mistook your meaning on first pass ... so in my mind, things are looking up already!
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 7, 2017 - 07:06am PT
I am learning more than I ever wanted to know about sewers. Homeowners policies do not cover gradual wear and tear. If a meteor struck the sewer line and destroyed it then there would be coverage.

I read up about the system Lorenzo showed, it sounds better than the relining. I am relieved that the first estimate I got ($46k) was ridiculous, still going to cost me half of the that.

The sewer insurance policies are careful to only cover blockages, not breakage and settling. $8k cap too.

zBrown

Ice climber
Dec 7, 2017 - 07:51am PT
Thanks Jon and Lorenzo.

The sewer insurance policies are careful to only cover blockages, not breakage and settling. $8k cap too.

Kind of defeats the purpose, eh?

Nobody I know reads their insurance policies until after something happens. I guess it's time to start slogging through.

It sounds like two instances of the city working with homeowners exist.

JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 7, 2017 - 09:08am PT
Do the job right if it needs it. Nobody wants to buy nor live in a house with a messed up sewer line. No tenant is going to follow some new poop rule. You also have to disclose all this when you sell.

Your sewer probably moved 80% in the first 5-10 years after it was installed, it's probably been broken for a long, long time. Unless you can tell me about some major floods or show me a very large tree or something, this is how dirt settles. You may have just fixed your problem for another several years. Are you in a hurry?

A few roots here and there are no big deal. I live in a neighborhood similar age, clay pipe, main down the middle of the street or to one side. There are cuts through the street all up and down every block in the city where sewer lines have been replaced. Most of them unnecessarily, IMO, I've heard so many stories. Some root-x and a snake once a year has worked fine for me and many others around. Beware where you plant trees and consider removing ones too close.

If I were in your shoes, I'd go back to normal, snake it every year until you get a block again, then only replace the junction.
Lorenzo

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
Dec 7, 2017 - 09:40am PT
If I were in your shoes, I'd go back to normal, snake it every year until you get a block again, then only replace the junction.

The real estate industry is more and more requiring the sewer be scoped before closing, and repairs get taken off the sale price. You will pay for a new sewer eventually anyway, and they arenít getting cheaper.

Here in the city limits, scoping and recertification of a sewer line has just been made mandatory at sale. Have your dvd ready.

Of the five or six houses sold in the last couple years right around me, three got new sewer lines.
( the neighborhood and my house are about 110 yrs old. Clay sewers donít last forever)

My neighbor, whose property my sewer originally went through, paid for a re-lining at closing for her sewer when she sold shortly after my sewer went in.

The city engineers, btw, were very helpful and above board through the whole process, which took almost two years from when I first looked into it.
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
Dec 7, 2017 - 09:50am PT
Hah, I initially read this as the connection being 50' deep, which I thought explained the price tag.

Lorenzo knows what he's talking about, thanks for the TR.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
Dec 7, 2017 - 09:54am PT
You will pay for a new sewer eventually anyway, and they arenít getting cheaper.
Good thoughts and maybe true - but this sewer is 60 yrs old to your 110.

Given OP's age [a guess] and likely cost of financing now vs paying cash out of equity at time of sale, and considering appreciation of house vs increase in labor costs, not sure you are presenting the better financial option.

I would make a decision more weighted to the present reality - which is reading to me to be a possibly functional sewer in no urgent nor certain need of repair.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
Dec 7, 2017 - 09:57am PT
Crazy that in some industries they can drill and install pipe 10,000 feet below the surface, turn corners, go horizontal, etc., but it's impossible to replace 50 feet of sewer line beneath a street without digging the whole thing up. I reckon it's economics- there is a lot more money in extracting oil & gas than replacing piping for poop!
BJ

climber
Dec 7, 2017 - 10:01am PT
If you have available munincipal sewer, disconnecting the side sewer is probably not legal in any case. You can be compelled to hook back up.
Lorenzo

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
Dec 7, 2017 - 10:11am PT
Given OP's age [a guess] and likely cost of financing now vs paying cash out of equity at time of sale, and considering appreciation of house vs increase in labor costs, not sure you are presenting the better financial option.

Possibly true. In my case I just cashed in some CDs. They werenít yielding much anyway and matured on the investment ladder. I will eventually recoup. Property values in my neighborhood are skyrocketing since I live 20 blocks from center city. Itís also been declared a historic neighborhood, so all future work has to conform to historic guidelines.

My situation was that with the neighbor selling, the new owner could require me to remove the line on their property. The old owner offered me an easement, but that would have lowered property value for both our houses and didnít seem an option. I would have been at the new ownerís mercy if they decided to build on the back portions ( which they are indeed doing. The guy is a real estate dude, and he bought because the property was a double lot.)

I in fact asked my old neighbor to tell the city she would NOT grant an easement as part of the negotiations over city cost.

And I would have been responsible for the neighbors property during any future repair, which seemed too messy to contemplate.

Everybodyís situation is different and sometimes more complicated than you first think.

The ram did, btw, have to avoid existing utilities and a decommissioned oil tank ( they punched right through it) the line itself did not go through the tank. They needed to start about 40í back to get deep enough to get below footer depth. I have a full basement.
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