Friday, October 20, 2006

Sewer Bids

Ok, the guy from the second company I had out to give me a bid on replacing my main sewer line just left.

I called two highly referred companies out to bid on the job. I checked licensing and BBB reports on both. I also talked to plumbers that have used both companies. Workers Comp & liability insurance has been confirmed.

In initially speaking with both companies on the phone, I had a short lived optimism that maybe the drain wasn't as bad as I thought it might be and a good cleaning or spot repair might take care of it. But when both companies came out and looked at my nifty little sewer dvd, they confirmed that the sewer was pretty much shot. The 1924 drain tiles are 6" diameter and 2' in length and at every joint, I have roots entering the system. Not that you care, but I found it interesting that the top of each tile is painted blue and the bottom red. This works out well with camera shots because you can tell which direction is the floor even if the camera has twisted.

Both companies suggested "sleeving" a 4" pvc through the existing 6" drain tiles. They could do this starting at the drain clean out pit inside my basement. The pvc, they tell me, is a 100 yr product that will be impervious to roots. Although I thought it was a little funny that when I asked about warranty neither company mentioned a warranty other than they would come out and make any adjustments necessary if something went wrong.

The companies differ in how they would approach a "dipped" section of drain tile about halfway down the sewer line in the middle of my front lawn. My guess is that it is two drain tiles that have dipped - meaning about a 4 ft length of pipe. The dip looks to be maybe a couple of inches. One would clean out the sewer and then shoot the pvc through this section. They said the pvc had a tendency to "self correct" the dip. The other would dig a trench from above and remove those tiles and hand place the pvc in that section.

The first approach is attractive because it would leave my lawn intact. But I have a tiny concern about what happens to the pvc if the tiles continue to shift. The second approach would leave me with a front yard of dirt to seed in the Spring, but also would seem to permanently address the tiles. (What to do, what to do, what to do. )

Both bids agree that the sink hole down by the street is the great unknown. Because the camera was not able to get by that root blob, we don't know what the condition of the pipe is from the curb to the center of the street and the city's line. The first company would try to sleeve to the city main and only dig if the pvc would not go through. The other would plan to dig at this spot, remove the old tile and then pvc from this spot to the city line.

I was impressed by one company that said they were going to call the city to see if the city had any info. on the condition of the lateral lines on my street. That same company also mentioned that my copper water line is in that same trench and would be covered if it was accidentally damaged.

I talked to both companies about raising my inside drain clean out above ground - and both said they could do this. Not only would this make digging out dirt to reach the clean out unnecessary, it would also address some radon concerns I have had with that hole.

I have one written estimate and the second one will be faxed to me on Mon. I get equally good vibes from both companies (which I have found to be gut instinct talking and oddly reliable). The first company gave me a bid where they sleeve from the house to the city line - with an added line item cost if they have to dig at the sink hole. The second company talked about a bid where they sleeve to the dip and then dig....and then they sleeve to the sink hole than dig.....and then they sleeve to the city line. From our brief discussions, I think one bid will be $500 or so less than the other.

Both companies agreed that I have at least 30 days to mull this over before: a) the whole thing collapses; b) someone falls down my sink hole; and/or c) we get ground freeze which would make the whole thing more work & cost.

Just what I wanted for Christmas. A new lateral sewer line :-) (that is a fake smile)



-Chris Randel said...

I'm curious to how much the bid was to do the lateral sewer line? I have a house in uptown I recently purchased, and am having a feeling that I may have to replace the lateral sewer line.

StuccoHouse said...

Chris - If you hit the label "lateral line" at the bottom of this post, you will see the whole story of my sewer replacement. It costs $150 or so to send a camera down the line. My whole lateral line replacement cost about $4500 - but I chose to have my line manually attached to the city line which accounted for about $1200. I really liked the company I used & would recommend them (link to their site in a later post also). It's a sad thing to have to spend your money on...but nice knowing its the last time I'll ever have to address the issue. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I enjoy your blog, as we have many similar issues in our new (old) northeast bungalow. We are trying to determine whether to replace our sewer lateral or put it off. One reason for doing it now is to move the cleanout outside hopefully to reduce the radon. Did you happen to measure any reduction in radon?

StuccoHouse said...

I tested for radon in my basement when I first moved in and levels were pretty low. That said, if you have seen my entire "sewer" thread you have seen the photos of my original clean-out which was essentially a dirt pit that you dug up to reach the pipe. When they replaced the lateral line, this was all enclosed in cement and they raised the clean-out above ground. I'm sure this helped further eliminate any radon, but my levels were originally low enough that I didn't feel the need to test further. I probably will retest out of curiosity, but it's not a high priority.

Phillip & Kim said...

Yes, we also have a dirt hole in the ground where the cleanout is, but it's just wide open with a board over it, so we don't have to dig it out. We're at 5.1 piC/L (or whatever), and I'd like to fill in that pit with concrete, and hopefully, that would reduce the levels to below 4.0.

StuccoHouse said...

I'd think that pit would be a pretty good place to start. In my basement, the clean out hole & the main drain or the two largest gaps. My plans also include going along the point where my basement wall meets the floor and filling in any cracks with hydraulic cement. I'll probably get to that this winter. Radon aside, it's really nice to have cement there because it stays so much cleaner.

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