Sewer line bellies

Old 05-25-16, 09:31 PM
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Sewer line bellies


Couple of weeks ago we had water backup in our master bath Ė in toilet and bath tub (we had the same problem last year around this time and we called a plumber who used snake to unclog it). Since that time we havenít used toilet in the master bath all that often but yet it clogged up again. This time we scheduled camera inspection with a different plumbing co and the inspection indicated our pipe has formed bellies in two places and they suggested digging up a 40 feet long tunnel under the slab to fix the piping. He estimated cost for the work to be around $15,000. I was shocked. (How can this be that expensive?)
Iím looking for a second opinion and other options to address this problem (paying $15,000 for this is not an option). Questions I have hoping you may be able to help me with:
1. How common is for a pipe to form a belly? Why did it happen Ė is this an indication of bigger problem I may have (is it time to call a structural engineer to inspect the foundation)?
2. Are there other alternative (aka cheaper) methods to address this issue?
3. If I donít fix it and choose to use snake every time it happens to temporarily alleviate issue am I risking creating a bigger problem (in other words, can this get worse over time; can pipe break, etc)
4. I asked plumber if it was possible to, instead of digging tunnel under the slab to fix existing piping, run a new line to the street from master bath alongside the house. He said that it was but itís as expensive, if not more expensive. Could that be accurate?

I would greatly appreciate any tips. Thanks

FYI, I live in Texas.
Old 05-26-16, 03:53 AM
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When you say "belly", I'm thinking of something akin to an aneurysm ?

But what I'm envisioning is a blockage that caused a backup and a rupture in an Orangeburg pipe . . . . one of those asphalt pipes used in the 1930s to 1960s when inexpensive PVC became available. What else could expand or bloat before breaking? It's probably split or broken now; but the original blockage downstream was the cause.
Old 05-26-16, 04:38 AM
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Belly is a dip in the sewer line that collects debris. Hydro Physics, Inc. - Common Problems
Old 05-26-16, 05:26 AM
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If your line does have low spots or bellies then replacement is probably the only proper solution. There are several different methods that can replace a line depending on what contractors are available in your area. Where I live it's much cheaper to just bring in an excavator and dig a trench to run the new line. In more metropolitan areas there are contractors that use special machinery to pull a new pipe through the old without digging up the entire yard. Whether or not they can straighten out the dips is a question only they can answer. But you should get multiple bids to see which works the best for your situation.
Old 05-26-16, 07:38 AM
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Replacing the pipe is the only cure for bellies. In my experience bellies are usually found in old cast iron pipes. The pipe has cracked and the ends have sunken or the pipe has totally collapsed.

The $15K sounds very expensive, you should get multiple bids and don't worry about hurting a contractors feelings.
A caveat: The $15K is not expensive if the work involves running pipe into (under/through) the street. Most cities are going to require certified state workers to work on the street and curb. Not necessarily government workers, but authorized contractors.

If you need to tie into the city lateral around here, you're looking at about $25K. I heard there are ways to challenge the cost with the city, but haven't explored that process yet. I do know you first need a DVD video of the interior of the pipe.

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