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Home Sewer System FAQs

As a homeowner: I have to get my sewer line cleaned more than once a year. Or, I just had my sewer cleaned a month and a half ago and my drain is still slow.

Could be you just have a root problem, still.

Keep in mind roots replenish themselves the same way your shrubs and trees above ground do. When you cut them back they come back more lush and thicker. The sewer line, pretty much up to the 1980′s were made of clay. Most o f these lines have no gaskets in the joints, so they naturally leak into the soil when there is water standing in the line. Your sewer line is not designed to hold water. It is just a means to get waste from your house to the city sewer. Roots seek out the water, their life line. Or you could have a problem with the sewer line. A separation in the pipe, possibly a belly (the pipe has settled), or a break.

Do you see any depressions (sink holes) in your yard? Are there cracks or settling in the sidewalk concrete or the asphalt in the street or alley where the sewer line runs?

If you see any of this in the area of your sewer line this could be a indicator that you have some damage to your sewer line. Typically what can happen in these areas is the line has had a abnormal amount of leakage . Either there is a break, separation, roots, or possibly a belly that is holding the waste from flowing freely to the main. Causing the leakage into the ground. When you have waste escaping the sewer line, this can cause erosion of soil under the pipe. If enough soil is eroded there is the potential for a collapse of the sewer line. This could be the cause of the depression or damage to curbs, sidewalks, or asphalt. If this is the problem, a repair would be necessary.

How can I be sure my sewer line in not a problem waiting to become an expensive repair.

The fact is for $139 you can have your sewer line inspected. You will receive a detailed report as well as a colored DVD of the entire proceeding. No matter what age your home is, a repair of your sewer line is probably the most expensive maintenance item you will ever have to deal with as a home owner. I have also found there is no typical charge for a repair to the line (Remember, I do not do any repairs). You can pretty much figure $4000-$5000, if the repair is in the cities right of way. Much of the time these repairs can run as deep as 20′. Many times you have to replace sidewalks and or asphalt. You have to obtain road cut permits. Maybe you have to get a flagger. The expense is much higher than if it is in your own property, like the yard. The repairs on your property can be more forgiving. There are more factors involved. The truth is the expense of replacing a sewer line is not the material, but the expense of the excavator. Check out your local home improvement store, you can pick up the items for a 10′ repair for about twenty dollars. On a home that has no basement the sewer line could be as shallow as 2′ under the surface. I think you can see how there is some room for negotiations on a shallow repair. But in comparison to a repair in the street – the same repair may now run from $1000 to $3000. You will also find out that if you have two repairs to be made. One in the city right of way and one on your own property – at this point you want to check with the contractor and find out if it is more cost effective to replace the entire line instead of making the two repairs. I have found the typical replacement of the entire sewer line runs about $1000 per 10′. Eighty foot line, $8000!lacement of the entire sewer line runs about $1000 per 10′. Eighty foot line, $8000!

So what is the best thing to do if I am concerned at all, or just want to be sure?

Have your sewer line inspected. You will get a color DVD giving you the video behind the story. If you have a problem with the sewer line you know what the problem is, where the problem is, and how deep it is. This gives you more information to base your purchase on. Chances are, your realtor has had to make these negotiations before on other properties for other clients, Give them the opportunity and facts to negotiate the best property price they can for you.

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