Friday, May 3, 2013

the not so great side of home ownership

Wednesday while we were in the city, we had the plumber back out because the first time they came a couple of weeks ago, while it relieved the problem somewhat, didn't fix it. The problem being that the sewer line was backed up.

This was not really surprising as we had had plenty of smaller plumbing issues over the 35 years we lived there but always more related to between the house and the main sewer line. This was the main sewer line which everything taps into at the back of the house. There is a concrete access port for just this sort of thing about 4' from the back door.

They tried the smaller 75' snake again because the bigger 100' boy would most probably damage the old 1950s concrete pipes even more. Then they sent the camera snake down. Not a pretty sight. It was kind of cool though, sneaking a peek in that concrete tube buried two feet underground under my concrete driveway.

What it revealed were sections clear and dry, sections with water and three obstructions, the third of which he couldn't get the camera through. It was about at 75'. When he walked the little detector part along the driveway, it would emit a certain beep when it was right above the camera snake, and it stopped right across from the camphor tree by the edge of the driveway.

So, at least three major breaks and the sweet gum, the pecan, and the camphor were tapping in.

OK. Also not surprising considering a neighbor had had to have a major overhaul a few years previous and their house wasn't as old as ours.

They drew up a plan. The whole sewer line needed to be replaced but rather than tear up the whole driveway, from the concrete port and beyond all the way to the street, about 100' , they would dig a new line along the driveway until they came to the camphor tree and then they would angle over into the driveway and cut through it to the street where it joins the main line. They would have to bust up a part of the concrete apron out the back door and they would haul all the concrete away. They would start the next day and finish on Friday.

Our choices were slim to none. There were two people living full time in the house and two more part-time. We were leaving the next day and didn't have time to get competitive bids. They could get it done in two days. Or we could sell the house.

Since we're not ready to do that, we signed on the dotted line. Let me just say that it wasn't as little as I would have liked but it wasn't as much as I feared.

This was what they had accomplished by about noon today when I went by. My sister and I had planned a day in the city coincidentally so I got to check on their progress today.

Concrete broken up from the driveway to even with the far side of the back door steps, which is about where that pile of concrete chunks is. Covered with plywood.

Trench starting from the back corner of the house down alongside the driveway.

From the front corner of the house. They angled off from just before the concrete walkway to the house with the camphor tree on the other side.

In the driveway picking up the sewer pipe, a big hole in the concrete pipe.

Working the jackhammer on the driveway.

They cut two parallel grooves through the concrete to guide the guy with the jackhammer.

It didn't look to me like they would finish but the guy thought they probably would. We got a message this evening from our son saying it was finished and they had 'flow', as the plumber called it, again.


  1. wow, they work quickly! sorry about the major repair, though!

  2. Ugh. I feel your pain. We are embarking on repairs and it has hemorrhaged into a big big headache.

  3. That looks like a big job, but it must feel great to be done with it. I must admit, there are times I love living in an apartment!

  4. That camera thing is wonderful. All the sewer technology saves money in the long run, I'm sure. It found the broken clay tile in our line to the septic and I was grateful to only have a three foot trench in the yard.

  5. Nothing like a constipated sewer pipe. I would like to replace mine, but I'm under no illusion that I should be doing that kind of digging, so I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best. I see that you're keeping company with my Oregon blogger friend, Kerry. I'm glad you two guys became acquainted.

  6. YIKES! Isn't it hard to be at the mercy of others. You just have to trust that they know what they are doing. Still working on that....

  7. Flow you have, but do you also have a ‘cash flow’ problem now?

    We have just received an estimate to replace 8 rotting windows. Ouch!

  8. I hate home repairs. But these guys look like they are doing a neat job and they seem to be pretty fast.

  9. There's every sort of reason to wish for home ownership. This isn't one of them. There's great pleasure in apartment living, especially when the management is terrific. It goes wrong, I call, they fix.

    I love hearing you have a camphor tree. I planted a little switch about fifteen years ago, and it's up to the second story now. They're wonderful trees.

  10. I hate plumbing problems,,, just reading this gave me the "heebee JeeBees",, but you should be fixed for a long while...


I opened my big mouth, now it's your turn.