Any cheaper or DIY fix of sewage line little roots that just got drilled thru, short of a Hydro-Jet?

Discussion in 'Drain and Sewer Cleaning' started by Jeff Davis, Jan 2, 2019.

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  1. Jan 2, 2019 #1

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    I ask because a well-known major service just came and quickly got it draining again but they said they could only use a 2-1/2” tool since that's how big the Cleanout Opening is and yet the PVC just below it is 4” ID as is the clay pipe sections that are beyond the PVC, under the street.
    Their camera showed that a 2-1/2” hole had been bored thru the roots in the clay pipe, which they say will just grow back over time & clog it again.
    They suggested their $600 Hydro-Jet cleaning but I'm sure that would need to be re-done on a regular schedule, even if somewhat infrequently.
    We bought this house new in 1993 and this is the first problem like this.
    We live on a cul-de-sac with the sewage main in the middle of the circle and there's no trees or bushes anywhere near where the clay pieces of pipe must be buried about 3’-6’ underground.
    Since I don't know the business, is there a tool that would fit into our 2-1/2" Cleanout Opening that could then be expanded to 4" to get all of the roots out?
    Also, due to this, I've read lots about using Copper Sulfate to kill roots in drain piping. If I do that to the remaining roots, will it over time just break them off a few at a time and would they then go down into the sewage main? That would sure be an easy do.
    Will that work? I'm willing to try it by either putting small batches of Copper Sulfate into the toilet to flush it down or even by opening the 2-1/2” Cleanout that's in the garage floor and dumping in the total suggested amount (2-6 lbs?) in there.
    If that line isn't totally clogged anymore, will those methods actually feed the roots enough Copper Sulfate to kill them or will the Copper Sulfate just flow by the roots too quickly to have any affect?
    While I'm asking, if I should just use Copper Sulfate alone, how would I know how much Copper Sulfate to use, how often and when should I start it?
     

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  2. Jan 2, 2019 #2

    frodo

    frodo

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    here is the truth of the matter
    you paid a couple hundred getting a temp fix
    you know you will have to do it again for a couple more hundred
    The Plumbing co has said your clay sewer is root bound,
    my advice is, bite the bullet NOW. replace the sewer from the house to the sewer tap
    OR
    pay out a couple hundred every other month till you are forced to replace the sewer

    Then the expense out of your pocket will be the price of a new sewer and all the trips to have a temp solution
     
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  3. Jan 3, 2019 #3

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    Thanks for your input Frodo. What I hadn't thought to mention and should have is that we might move sometime later this year so if my only cheap choice is to risk it backing up again, which I don't know if roots that are way out there under the street cul-de-sac grow fast enough to do that, then I'm willing to take that chance and keep a close eye on it. We could always pay them to come out again if needed. I called a company that comes out within an hour so I just kept soaking up the water that was seeping out from under the toilet with towel rags until they came.
    I sure don't want to invest in replacing the PVC piping under the driveway and the clay pipe under the street. The truth is, from what I saw on their laptop monitor as they sent the cam into the pipes and what I see on in the DVD video they left us, the PVC pipe under the driveway is fine and the roots have only found their way thru the slip joints in the clay pipe pieces, since they aren't sealed. But that is under the street, so that sure would have to cost quite a bit to replace, especially with it being so far down in the ground.
    So, that brings me back to my 2 silly questions:
    1. Is there a tool that can be slipped into a 2-1/2" Cleanout Opening that can then be expanded to 4" either manually or that does it itself as it is being used, that a firm can use to get all of the roots out? Or is the only option having them bore another 2-1/2" hole thru the roots if they grow enough over the next 6-12 months that they clog the sewage from draining?
    2. Can I use Copper Sulfate somehow to kill the roots as I've read that people do and if so, how much, how often and will the dead ends of the roots just break off a little at a time and flow down the pipe with the waste?
     
  4. Jan 3, 2019 #4

    handsome1

    handsome1

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    In my opinion. Copper sulfate is not worth using. It's expensive and mainly stunts the growth of the roots temporary, and it's bad for the environment.
    Do you not have a main stack in the house they can install a 4" test tee on to so you have a proper sized clean out? And was there not a toilet in the basement they could have pulled to cable from there? Or a roof vent to cable down through? I don't know what your house is designed like but those would have been the obvious first options to look at before cabling from the 2.5" clean out in my opinion. And maybe they did, but if not call a different company for another opinion
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  5. Jan 3, 2019 #5

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    Seann, I don't know what a "main stack" is, but maybe it's what you can see in my photo in the garage floor that they sent their rooter thru the first time and then sent the camera down thru on their 2nd visit? I think the pipe went down a few feet from the opening that had a plug/lid that screwed into it. If that's what you mean, I'm sure they could bore the hole in the concrete bigger so that they could install a 4" lid on it. Is that what you're talking about? Of course, that would cost me and since we hope to sell the house & move later this year, I'd rather not invest in things if I don't need to.
    I'd probably rather just take my chances & keep a close eye on things & hope for the best. If I need to pay them to come back out again, oh well.
    If not, I don't know what you mean about a test tee. That must be it. It's the only thing I know of and that's what they were happy to find. It was actually leaking water around it which I thought was pretty weird.
    We don't had a basement, the house in on a post-tension slab.
    What do you mean when you talk about "could have pulled to cable from there? Or a roof vent to cable down through?" Are you saying that the roots can be cleared from somewhere else other than that 2.5" Cleanout?
     
  6. Jan 3, 2019 #6

    frodo

    frodo

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    I would research the township utilities and the utility easements,

    it is very very very rare for a homeowners sewer to be installed under a city street
    the city sewer has a lateral, off of the sewer main onto your property or into an easement

    another comment...can you dig down to the pvc/clay pipe intersection and install a 4'' ---2 way cleanout?
    this will allow a full size root cutter head to be used
    6.5x552 (1).JPG
     
  7. Jan 3, 2019 #7

    handsome1

    handsome1

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    A main stack is typically a 4" pipe that comes up from the concrete and goes out of the top of your roof. It provides a vent for your plumbing, and your plumbing fixtures in your house typically drain into it. After going down into the concrete it takes a 90 degree turn and becomes your sewer line. In your case with a slab on grade home your bathroom sink or kitchen sink would be the only fixtures that may drain into it most likely. In a slab home it would most likely be inside of your wall behind your toilet in the bathroom nearest to the kitchen. Which would not make it an ideal place to install a clean out (test tee). Most likely if you have a main stack, your main stack will be coming out of your roof , it will look like a 4" pipe coming out if the roof of your house. It will extend out 12" or so typically. If you do have one? Then the sewer line can be cabled by sticking the cable down from the from the roof vent. Not every company has the equipment to do this. It will typically take 2 guys. 1 person on the ground running the machine and 1 person on the roof feeding the cable down the roof vent. So it will cost more. Or some people have a sectional sewer cable machine and in that case 1 guy could possibly do it himself.
    Option 2. A lot of times if a house is on a concrete slab (with no crawl space) sewer can be cabled by simply removing the toilet and cabling down through the stool flange. Once in a while depending on how it was piped you cannot cable from the toilet because it is plumbed directly into the main stack stack at a veritcal point, in this case you cannot cable from there. However, If you have 2 toilets in your house though, the toilet that is furthest away from your roof vent stack should most likely have no problems with being cabled through.
    So if you have 2 toilets you should be able to cabled it from one of the toilet flanges with a 3"-4" cutter depending on how tight the initial turn is to get your cutter blade past. This would probably be the cheapest option. The roof vent option should be cheaper than having you line hydro jetted. Most exspensive option would be hydro jet most likely. Or just do nothing and see what happens. Good luck
     
  8. Jan 3, 2019 #8

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    So Frodo, what you're saying is that maybe both the PVC and the clay pipe are under my driveway and they are then connected to the city's sewer lateral pipe at about the curb? If so, maybe I misunderstood what the Roto-Rooter guy had said.
    But since the straight line between the Cleanout in my garage and the sewage cover that I see in the center of the cul-de-sac we're on goes straight out under our driveway, I couldn't just dig down thru the concrete and bricks.
    I almost hate to say this, but is it possible that they were just tricking me by showing me a wad of roots that they'd supposedly gotten out of my pipes but that they'd actually just brought here in their truck and then they'd showed me a pre-recorded DVD of roots infesting the 4" line that their tool had only been able to cut a 2-1/2" swath thru in order to scare me into hiring them to do a $600 Hydro-jet cleaning?

    I have read online some bad things about root infestation clearing that make it clear that everyone isn't always honest about the fixes needed.
     
  9. Jan 5, 2019 #9

    Rossando

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    Come on bro he’s doing the camera inspection in front of you! If you know how to use an iPhone then you wouldn’t be fooled by a prerecorded video. With that being said Frodo knows his stuff, he’s suggesting opening a small area by the curb where the pipe is transitioning to clay/pvc. You said it’s pvc in your driveway well where does it switch to clay? Here it’s 9ft from the curb where you stop the properties sewer lateral. If there are roots past the 9ft mark that means owner must replace pipe all the way to the manhole and would require digging up the street! Via needing city approved engineers and permits.
     
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  10. Jan 5, 2019 #10

    Rossando

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    Cheap fix is install a two way clean out like Frodo suggested for regular routine maintenance via hydro-jet or drain cleaner with cutting blade. Second option cough up the 25-30 grand for the job. Make sure clean out is outside the property usually within 3ft of garage but you have to look up your city’s codes, get it close to that clay pipe as Frodo stated!
     
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  11. Jan 5, 2019 #11

    frodo

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    his sewer camera has a screen that tells him the footage the camera is from the machine
    he should have spray painted an x on your driveway exactly where the camera met the roots

    it aint rocket science. he can see if the sewer makes an offset, knows where the offset is
    can trace that sewer easy easy using a video
     
  12. Jan 5, 2019 #12

    elkski

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    all I will say is that roots are amazing things. we never know how far they go or which ones if cut will kill the tree. I had a 3" roof drain line totally clogged for 5 feet by fine roots from a columbine flower. I think the drain line i installed had a sag so it always held water and the roots were so happy. I missed a year running a hose down to wash out the pine needles and such and the next year the hose would not go. this was a major effort to dig down 20" and cut out and put in a new section..

    This this spring my neighbor was adding 5' on his driveway for an RV pad in back and he shut off his water in that zone. But September my big 20 year old pine tree was dead. I still watered nearby but it was his sprinkler water and that Running off his drive or one of the 1" roots going under his old driveway that they cut that just killed it so fast.
     
  13. Jan 6, 2019 #13

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    I should have mentioned that I didn't stay out in the garage and watch the whole thing. I should have. That photo I took was only as he was showing me what he'd found and he wasn't moving the camera anymore. He was just playing what he'd filmed.
    I actually don't know where the line switches from PVC to clay. I only know what I saw on the video.
    When you say that "Here it’s 9ft from the curb where you stop the properties sewer lateral", does that mean that they really bury stuff under the street that I'm responsible for the upkeep on? That doesn't make any sense to me but I trust you if that's how things work. I know as far as water supply goes, our city brings it under the street's sidewalk to the ON/OFF valve & meter that is buried in a little concrete box and I'm responsible for everything past that point.
    So, wouldn't their sewage lines end using the same idea, just my side of the sidewalk?
    I'm going to watch the video DVD he left me and post a PrintScreen here later on.
     
  14. Jan 6, 2019 #14

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    If he spray painted an X, he sure didn't tell me & I haven't seen one.
    I'm going to watch the video DVD that he left me and post a PrintScreen here later on. I'll look for anything telling how far the camera is from the machine.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  15. Jan 6, 2019 #15

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    Thanks. WOW, that's a lot to try to learn in a hurry for me. Anyhow, we have one full bathroom on the ground floor that's on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen. We have 2 full bathrooms upstairs. I haven't ever looked at the roof for a vent pipe. The guys that were out here never even went in our house and I didn't see them looking at our roof either.
     
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  16. Jan 6, 2019 #16

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    I couldn't dig down to the PVC/clay pipe intersection and install a 4'' ---2 way cleanout. It's under the concrete driveway or at least I think it is. I actually don't know. Could I look in the street and see a manhole cover or something that would indicate where the city's sewer line is and could I assume that the pipe goes straight out of my garage, down my driveway and then is angled towards that manhole cover?
    I'm going to watch the video DVD that he left me and post a PrintScreen here later on. I'll look for anything telling how far the camera is from the machine.
     
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  17. Jan 6, 2019 #17

    handsome1

    handsome1

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    If you have a 2 story then the roof vent idea is out. I thought you just had a single story home that was slab on grade. And you cannot cable from upstairs toilet flanges either. Only downstairs toilet.
    I'll go ahead and say it. If your plumber didn't even go into your house. The plumber you had out was just being lazy and hoping to sell a jetter job after seeing the cleanout in the garage. And a jetter is an attractive solution because if he works for Roto Rooter he is 100 percent commission based. I can tell you this because of my experience the field.
    I was a lead service technician at Roto Rooter, and worked for them in 2 major major cities. Aside from my own jobs, as a lead technician I had to go out and help other service technicians in the field who were stuck on a job because they needed advice to complete a job, simply could not get a drain line open by themselves, or whatever else the case was that they were in need of my help. I don't know it all, but I am an absolute expert when it comes to drains, I've done it my whole life.
    The Roto Rooters I have worked at were pretty ethical in their business practices and that was passed down to the employees as well. And most of the time Roto Rooter does a very very good job and are a great company to call for any drain issues. Sounds like your experience did not reflect that.
    Your technician should have went into your house and checked for a clean out, if none was found, then pull the toilet in the basement and try cabling from there. Its a standard practice. If for some reason they were unable to get a cable down the drain (which they most likely could on the lowest level and no crawl space) then look at other options, such as installing a cleanout on your main stack or jetting your sewer line from garage cleanout as "last resort". It's a last resort because it will cost you $600 every time you ever need your line opened again in the future. If a cleanout is installed on main stack it's a 1 time thing, then all future cleanings will be regular rate. It is in your (the customers) best interest. And lastly if your sewer line is running into a dead end manhole for the city sewer such as you might be describing in your culdesac, there is a real chanvc that if the manhole was pulled you could see where your sewer line is dumping into it. If where it is dumping in the main can be seen, then it can usually be cabled from there back towards the house. I've done it lots of times. All you got to do is take a long piece of 3" or 4" pvc and put a 90 on the end of it, stub it into you sewer line and cable down from there.
    Your situation isn't some big ordeal or even a unique situation. It's just a "run of the mill" plugged sewer line. You don't need a cleanout installed in the yard unless your sewer line is over 200ft long or unless that was the only possible solution, which its probably not.
    You were just unlucky that had a the wrong technician come to your home that particular day. If another guy would have come out, he most likely would have been in and out and you wouldn't be on this forum asking questions right now.
    If what you have told me is correct?

    1) call another company and have then cable your sewer out properly.
    2) call roto rooter and ask to speak to a manager. Tell them what happened that day and that your technician never even came into the house or tried to pull a toilet and ask them to use the money you already paid as a credit to have them send senior technician out to your house to re-address the issue. I'm guessing unless the owner that franchise is a shiester, then he will care about the quality of service that his employees are presenting and the ethical practices and standards of the company. And they will send out a senior technician, and make things right. At least the 2 roto rooter franchises I worked for would have.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  18. Jan 9, 2019 #18

    Jeff Davis

    Jeff Davis

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    I'm sorry to hear you say that you're done on this one, handsome1. I'm really no troll. I'm just trying to figure out what I can do with my limited federal disability income to maintain this house. Repairmen always seem to crank up the price of their estimates either when they map it on Google Maps or when they drive into this awesome neighborhood of big homes in Orange county, California. This root rooting job just cost me $269 and yet I see prices for about ½ that on TV and on the radio.
    I apologize to everyone for my multiple replies to specific people the other day. I probably should have tried to just trim down what I wrote & asked it to everyone in one Reply like I'm doing here.
    So, then when he never came in the house and he just used the Cleanout that we found in the garage floor, I got suspicious when he said he could only use a 2½” tool since the Cleanout is only 2½” and yet the PVC & the clay pipe after that was 4” ID.
    After he had the camera guy come out the next day and show me the 2½” hole thru the tube of roots, he said they only fix it by doing a Hydro-jet cleaning for $599.
    Ouch.
    Is that clay pipe partially mine or is it all the city's or does that vary by city and utility?
    Also, is the lateral clay pipe laid at an incline all the way out to the city's main sewage line so that it is usually empty or is it really horizontal and the only reason that sewage is pushed out of it is from the weight of the waste above it in my property’s PVC feeder line?
    I ask this since I'm wondering if water & waste sitting in & filling that clay pipe is what attracts roots or is it just the occasional stuff flowing past that attracts roots.
    Is the city’s pipe, that I someone here called a lateral I think, just some clay sections that go from their main sewer piping out to where my home is hooked to it, somewhere near the curb or maybe 9’ from the curb under the streets edge? If so, how can roots even get down to it on my cul-de-sac where there are no trees or bushes anywhere near where mine would have to be?
    home pic from phone garage open.png Roto-Rooter camera[5424].jpg ROTO-ROOTER unclogs drain line.jpg WP_20181212_13_38_04_Rich (4).jpg
     
  19. Jan 9, 2019 #19

    frodo

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    WHO? ROOTS
    WHAT? seeking water
    WHY? Their are thirsty, your sewer is cracked= FOOD
    Where ? Your Yard

    home pic from phone garage open.png
     
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  20. Jan 9, 2019 #20

    WyrTwister

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