New home with old plumbing problem

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by bemson, Mar 17, 2018.

  1. Mar 17, 2018 #1

    bemson

    bemson

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    Hello all,

    I've got what looks to be a leak in the main of our new home (2nd week in, so far). The inspector must have overlooked it, since the home wasn't in use and no significant amounts of water had been run.

    In the sizeable crawl-space of our home, there is an area that was dug out, where our main enters the ground. I noticed this ditch before completing the purchase and observed that it was dry. I immediately guessed that there must have been some plumbing emergency that necessitated digging around the main. I assumed it was done awhile back and moved on...

    Then, one day, I happened to be in the crawl-space after my wife ran the washing machine and noticed that soapy water had pooled in the ditch. I never waited/checked to see the water drain fully, but suspect there's a hole in the main somewhere below the ditch. The water bubbled some when my wife used the kitchen faucet. As well, there appears to be bits of toilet paper now - but no smell of sewage, yet.

    I'm convinced that we've inherited a big problem, and am more concerned that it isn't helping our home's foundation. My only hope is that the previous owners left things in a manageable state, since they apparently lived with it for however long.

    Tangentially, as the new homeowners, we're required to update our sewer lateral in 6 months. Any chance that work would address this issue? Or is this more likely to complicate things?

    Now, I can install a toilet or sink, but this is completely beyond me. (It's our first home.) I'd really like to know what steps to take next. Any advice is truly welcome. Plus, when plumbers charge $185/hr, it's cost less for them to fix the problem, rather than paying them to first diagnose it.

    Many, many thanks in advance!!

    IMG_4541.jpg

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  2. Mar 17, 2018 #2

    Geofd

    Geofd

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    well if you cant see anything visable i would remove all water and debris from the dirt and start digging there I'm guessing you main is rotting out that piece from thewye going into the ground looks tired
    title for my thread is wrong.......
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
  3. Mar 17, 2018 #3

    ExtraMilePlumbing

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    Yea what geofd said, start digging expose it up to 2inches under pipe
     
  4. Mar 17, 2018 #4

    ExtraMilePlumbing

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    And thee shouldn’t be a diagnostic fee, just call it as an non emergency and ask for free quotes,remember to put warranty and reputation above price
     
  5. Mar 17, 2018 #5

    justin_dewan90

    justin_dewan90

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    Your sewer could potentially be backed up as well. Like geof said remove the water and debris see if there is standing water in your sewer pipe through water hole it is. If the hole is on top, I'd guess your sewer is backed up. If the hole is on the bottom, all your waste is just going into the open ditch. Inspector should've ran water to "inspect" the sewer system so if the hole was on the bottom that issue would've shown then. Sewer back ups are quite common in my area in homes that haven't been occupied in a while.
     
  6. Mar 19, 2018 #6

    bemson

    bemson

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    Hi all,

    We were lucky enough to have a plumber look at this today, who gave both good and bad news.

    The bad news is that our main drain is indeed busted. He suspects the source of the issue is two feet beyond the pooling water. The work will take one to two days, but the area must be sanitized two days prior, by a separate company (with separate billing). As well, this plumber can't start the work until two weeks from now.

    The good news is that our sewer line is not backed up. He inspected the line with a long camera via the "clean-out". As well, he said our sewer lateral seems to already be compliant. (The concrete was newer and the clean-out pipe was PVC.) Lastly, our buying agent will contact the seller, since this appears to be an undisclosed issue that no inspector could have found.

    I'll likely go with the plumber who visited today - they estimated $5-6K. I couldn't expect another plumber to be available so quickly, and it will take time to plan where to send the wife and kids while they work.

    Thanks to all who chimed in here. I was really beyond my wits, so the attention and concern helps a lot. Also, the plumber didn't charge a dime. Still, I handed him $60 in gratitude for him visiting me on a Sunday.

    I feel like this issue is now in hand, with a plan for fixing it. We can live as we had for another two weeks. The folks who were here before us did so for years. I'll be sure to post follow ups to whatever work gets done, in about a month!
     
  7. Mar 19, 2018 #7

    justin_dewan90

    justin_dewan90

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    Get more estimates. I tell people more estimates keeps everyone honest. Seems like a hefty bill but not sure of all the work they plan to do.
     
  8. Mar 19, 2018 #8

    bemson

    bemson

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    Agreed about more estimates. But only one of two plumbers made time to visit me today - everyone appears to be incredibly busy, and this has been a huge worry to both myself and the wife.

    On the other hand, we do have a warranty with First American. I've submitted an "emergency" request - to which they've assigned a highly-rated contractor - but no word, yet. My hope is that our warranty covers the issue, at little or no cost. That's the one reason I'd wait any longer to fix this.

    Now that I'm explaining my arrogance, 5-6K is steep. I'll see if that other plumber can still come by tomorrow... :p
     
  9. Mar 19, 2018 #9

    ExtraMilePlumbing

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    How deep is that pipe from the other side of that wall. If it’s not too deep you should dig it out and cover it with plywood before the restoration co. Comes out, so that way they can clean the area better and you can renegotiate with the plumber as the job is going to be very easy (if the pipe is exposed ) that can’t be more then a 2-4 hour job, (if all he is doing is a spot repair).and you take care of the back fill also.
     
  10. Mar 20, 2018 #10

    bemson

    bemson

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    Duly noted @ExtraMilePlumbing. However, I'm not sure what you mean, since the pipe is vertical. As well, I don't know where the exact break is. In short, it'll be hard to clean, access or cover this thing until my family is out of the house (my wife stays at home).

    Still, if this could reduce the time and cost of the job, I'll look into prepping the area before the sanitization and plumbers arrive. So far, the plumbers plan to show up 2 days after it's sanitized. No exact dates on when the plumbers will be available however.

    Separately, today, the warranty folks should arrive. Hopefully, they can confirm that my sewer lateral is already compliant. Better news would be if the fix-it work is covered by the warranty. Keep your fingers crossed, and I'll update the thread in a few hours!
     
  11. Mar 20, 2018 #11

    ExtraMilePlumbing

    ExtraMilePlumbing

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    If the crack is in the vertical pipe there’s no way they will charge you that much, I bet the crack is under neath the foundation wall(exiting the house)that’s why I recommend digging it out from the outside, you should have asked the plumber more about how he was going to do the repair
     
  12. Mar 21, 2018 #12

    bemson

    bemson

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    Yes, well, the second plumber mentioned that (and the cost difference) today. This was the warranty contractor, and they seemed more pragmatic.

    They couldn't give an estimate of the work, until the waste was removed. To your point @ExtraMilePlumber, he doesn't know if it will cost under $1K or over $5K, depending on where the main is busted.

    However, now the seller wants to send their plumber, to assess things. This means more time, and likely no diagnosis until the area is cleaned.

    The problem with all of this is that my family has to stop living in the home to simply do an assessment, because the sanitation work will take at least 24hrs - and we can't use our water until it's been inspected.

    It's all quite frustrating, but at least the seller is engaged, however reluctantly. At this point, my wife is looking up places to stay while I field all the parties involved.

    I appreciate the advice from everyone, so far. Hopefully this will be a simple fix, and my foundation hasn't been damaged significantly. I'll share what I can, as the story continues.
     
  13. Mar 21, 2018 #13

    justin_dewan90

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    Suck the water out with a shop vac. Clean all the debris out with said shop vac. Post as many pics as you can on here of something that we can help with. Not trying to be rude. Get as close as you can to the pipe. Inspect every inch of the exposed pipe and see if you find a crack. Seriously, that should take all of half an hour. If anything, clean everything up, suck every ounce of water out. Then run a small amount of water through a sink. You will see it boil up somewhere. Find that and you will find the source. We can guide you from that point.
     
    TomFOhio likes this.
  14. Mar 22, 2018 #14

    bemson

    bemson

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    Thanks @justin_dewan90. I certainly get the gist of what needs to be done: clear out the debris to see and repair/replace the main. Unfortunately, I've been way too distracted (and frustrated) from dealing with the seller - it's gotten ugly... Anyway, I'm bringing in professionals for several reasons:

    1. I don't want to ruin my (friend's) wet/dry vac from sewage
    2. I need a sanitation company to remove ~3 weeks of sewage, and possibly all the dirt infill, so we can inspect the foundation for possible damage
    3. The pipe break may be well beyond the crawl-space, even a few feet down the sewer lateral means cutting through cement, which is beyond me
    4. If the problem is handled by a licensed professional, I avoid my wife's wrath, and have something to claim when dealing with this reluctant/greedy seller

    That said, I won't be sitting on my laurels. I'm lining contractors up to handle this over the weekend. While they do, I'll be tearing down some cabinets and installing a new sink and garbage disposal.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  15. Mar 22, 2018 #15

    justin_dewan90

    justin_dewan90

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    Just seems like too much hassle to go through for an estimate, in my opinion.
     
  16. Mar 23, 2018 #16

    bemson

    bemson

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    Perhaps @justin_dewan90. Still, I finally hired a plumber today; $6K for the whole job. They'll handle the leak tomorrow, which entails adding a clean-out near the side of our home (vs the one on the sidewalk, now), and extracting roots they saw as blocking the flow. They suspect the older connection burst as the pressure built.

    Next week, they'll handle our upper sewer-lateral, as well. Since sewer-lateral work alone is usually $5-6K, I figured handling this mess along with it was a good deal. (As well, the plumber said they don't need a clean up crew, and will cover the area with dirt, once it's all done.)

    That's about it for me, on this thread. Can't thank everyone enough for their support and attention. It really helped me get through this mentally.
     

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