Main Sewer Drain Replacement!

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  #1  
Old 12-07-02, 11:29 PM
cargille
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Main Sewer Drain Replacement!

HI! I need advice about replacing my main sewer drain line. Here is the situation: I have a 30 year old single-story slab home with a terrecotta main sewer drain line from the house to the street (20 feet straight pipe). There is a clean out access near the slab and a magnolia tree near the line.

Three years ago when I bought the house, I had to have the line augered out due to roots blocking the line. I was quoted around $600 then to replace the entire line from slab to street. I didn't have the job done and had no problems for three years. Now, unfortunately, the line is blocked again, from roots again I'm sure.

Ok, can I do this job myself. I've done some house repair/remodeling but haven't done much major plumbling like this. I don't mind the work of digging out the line and I really need to save some money. Can you give me any advice on how to replace this main sewer line.

What kind of pipe should I use? What tools would I need? Estimated cost of materials? Any other tips or advice?

Thanks a ton!!!

Robin
 
  #2  
Old 12-07-02, 11:38 PM
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You can get all the material for around $50 or $60 bucks if you run it in pvc,... you can probably do this yourself, but frankly I wouldnt even drive my plumbing truck past your house for $600... That was a GREAT deal... while 20 feet isnt that much, at the house it will be shallow, but i have seen sewers 18 feet deep at the street which means backhoe work... there is no WAY i could recommend that you do it yourself if it is something like that... good way to get you killed... so the important question is this... how deep is the tap at the street... you can call the county with your address and they will tell you... or you can just go to the nearest manhole cover in your street and take the lid off to see how deep the manholes are,... that will give you a rough idea of what you are trying to tackle... Of course, there is the off chance that you won't have to go all the way to the county tap, but the tap usually is the first spot to go bad... while you have the county on the phone, tell them about your problem and see if you can sweet talk them into coming out to check it out... if the problem turns out to be at the tap, most counties will do it free of charge...
 
  #3  
Old 12-07-02, 11:46 PM
cargille
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Great! I really appreciate the help and info. Here are a few more questions....

Assuming the sewer tap isn't 15 feet deep, what materials/tools do I need to do this?

How do I connect the new PVC line to the house drain and the city sewer tap?

Can you give me any other guidence on exactly how to do this job?

Thanks for all the help to a plumbing newbie!
 
  #4  
Old 12-07-02, 11:56 PM
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Well, at the street you will likely have some type of 6" pipe to tie to... you should use a 6" x 4" fernco fitting... bought at home depot... all you need for the rest of the run is a handful of pvc fittings, about 30 feet of pipe and something to cut it with... chop saw or just a pvc hand saw... get the green can of heavy duty pvc glue and some PURPLE primer... read the directions CAREFULLY... and when you glue joints together, MAKE SURE NOT TO LET THEM PUSH OUT ON YOU... anyway, at the house, you probably come out with cast iron, so at that joint you will want to use a 4" fernco to make the transition... Remember to put a cleanout tee in somewhere up by the house...
 
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Old 12-07-02, 11:59 PM
cargille
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Thanks a ton, Ragner! I'll let you know how it goes - I start tomorrow!
 
  #6  
Old 12-08-02, 12:02 AM
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Great, hope it goes well, but remember, if you end up needing to go deep at the street, cave-ins of ditches are deadly... they are a very real threat... you absolutely should not attempt to dig that without professional help if it is over about 6 or 7 feet deep...
 
  #7  
Old 12-09-02, 06:54 AM
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Listen to Ragnar

A contractor will be obligated to put a "trench box," literally a huge cast iron box in all trenches deeper that 7-8' to ensure the safety of all working down there. Codes may vary per state on the threshold depth that requires it.

A trench box is not something a DIYer will have access to.

If your sewer is 10' deep and the contractor says nothing at all about stabilizing the trench in his estimate, find somebody else.

Trench collapses can happen in less than a second. The worker that's trapped has to be very aware of how much he exhales, too much and he'll be suffocated (too much pressure by the soil for his lungs to fill up again).
 
  #8  
Old 12-09-02, 06:50 PM
cargille
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Does 'Root Kill' work?

Thanks for all the great guidance, guys! I talked to a city water board guy who confirmed that the city sewer tap connection near the street would not be deep, no more than 3-4 feet underground. However, when I went to Home Depot to get all the supplies, I found a chemical product called 'Root Kill' which claims to keep the roots around the drain killed & under control when used every 6 months (costs $10-20 per application). So, I rented the 100' electric sewer auger/roto-rooter for $35 bucks and did it myself. It cleared very easily but I still ran it through all the way 4X with a few different tips to make sure it was very clear. The Home Depot guy told me how to use it but since I'm talking to pro's here, let me ask one final question. Is there any way to damage a terracotta drain line with that auger. It never got stuck, I didn't hear any bad noises and I don't see any leaks or anything but I wanted to make sure I couldn't have done any damage with it.

I still want to replace the entire drain line with PVC eventually but at least I got my toilets working again on a Sunday afternoon without digging out my entire yard.

Thanks again for all the expert advice & help. Until next time.....

Best Regards!
 
  #9  
Old 12-09-02, 09:40 PM
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Your drainline will not be "hurt" anymore than it already is by using a roto-rooter type drain cleaner.
It would be possible to knock out chunks of busted tile, but you would have noticed this by the cable kinking up into a whip which trys to beat you to death as it spins.

The chemical you mentioned will work as well as any copper suphate based product. These compunds react with the roots by having them dehydrate, by absorbing the copper salt, and then the roots erode away. Cracks still remain in drain which allow more root pentration, and will ultimately result in drainline failure. But, by then you will have replaced the line...

More questions, ask away and someone will help you out....
 
  #10  
Old 12-11-02, 12:11 PM
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Chemicls work ok if they can stay in the line. Problem is when you flush it down it runs through to the sewer on the street and is only in contact with the roots for a few seconds. If this was a septic tile bed that would be a different story. The water stays in tiles to disipate.
 
 

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