Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000-$20,000 to fix

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pennylane
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Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000-$20,000 to fix

Post by pennylane » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:52 pm

Recently found out the main sewer line under my house might be broken, when running any sort of water we see the water moving under the house. We are getting a sewer smell inside the house when we do turn the water on. Purchased the home less than 6 months ago.

Anyone have experience with this issue or have had this problem before? Any suggestions? Prices we have gotten so far have been between $10,000-$20,000+

UPDATE: 11/29/18

After getting a different plumbing/sewer service in last night, we got lucky and had an EXTREMELY competent plumber come by and was willing to get a little dirty.

Long story short, he entered the crawlspace with a suit, located the exact location of where the water was coming up from - turns out we do not have a sewer trap but a "Sewer Spur" - there was a big cinder block on top of it (assuming to keep any critters from coming up from the sewer)

When we used any kind of water, water was coming out of that hole and backing up into our crawlspace and causing the stench we have been smelling

He put a snake down there (this guy is working in about 1.5 feet of clearance in the crawlspace) after about 25 feet of snaking, he felt the blockage, broke it up and it cleared. No more water backup so far, seems like the smell is going away.

$295 later and a generous tip, this guy saved the day and took what felt like the weight of the world off my shoulders. Having to front 10-20k in major plumbing work would of been a huge blow to us financially.

I'm debating if we should follow up with a camera inspection. Will update this in a few days
Last edited by pennylane on Fri Nov 30, 2018 2:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

arf30
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by arf30 » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:05 pm

This happened to my neighbor last year - it cost him 10k to fix as well. The plumber had to tear up and replace part of the sidewalk, driveway and garage floor as well.

fposte
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by fposte » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:09 pm

I had that. It was slightly cheaper and tremendously less disruptive to get the pipe relined, so I opted for that instead, but it was still over $10k. I'm guessing you've already had plumbers in and that's where the estimate comes from? But it also sounds like a videocamera hasn't been sent down the pipe yet, and that's likely to be an important step

samsdad
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by samsdad » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:11 pm

Wouldn’t this be covered by your homeowner’s policy?

Rupert
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Rupert » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:17 pm

samsdad wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:11 pm
Wouldn’t this be covered by your homeowner’s policy?
Not usually. HO typically only covers sewer line catastrophes if they're caused by a third party (e.g., neighbor or contractor) or an Act of God (e.g., fallen tree). Of course, insurance policies vary, and you should read your own policy.

MuckB
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by MuckB » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:27 pm

Happened to me, similar circumstances with a six month old house but I didn't have to pay for it as the city made the contractor fix it. I guess it was because in the city of Chicago the permit is signed by the actual plumber not the LLC building the house who dissolves immediately after the sale goes through and isn't held liable for anything. We only involved the city because our break was close to the connection at the street, but the inspector said it didn't matter - the contractor should've scoped the line during the build and forced them to replace it or the plumbers license would be held in contempt. I'd suggest talking to your local building department to see if there's any recourse with the permits. Good luck!

jbmitt
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by jbmitt » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:28 pm

Rupert wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:17 pm
by Rupert » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:17 pm

samsdad wrote: ↑Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:11 pm
Wouldn’t this be covered by your homeowner’s policy?
Not usually. HO typically only covers sewer line catastrophes if they're caused by a third party (e.g., neighbor or contractor) or an Act of God (e.g., fallen tree). Of course, insurance policies vary, and you should read your own policy.
It's usually excluded in general. Some policies offer an endorsement for service line coverage. Otherwise buried lines and pipes don't usually meet the definition for "covered property".

Afty
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Afty » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:31 pm

Do you have a home warranty? That might cover it.

daheld
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by daheld » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:32 pm

pennylane wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:52 pm
Recently found out the main sewer line under my house might be broken, when running any sort of water we see the water moving under the house. We are getting a sewer smell inside the house when we do turn the water on. Purchased the home less than 6 months ago.

Anyone have experience with this issue or have had this problem before? Any suggestions?
How do you see water running under your house?

frugalmama
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by frugalmama » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:37 pm

I didn't have it happen with the sewer line but it happened with our main water line into the house. The major cost was getting to the line...the actual repair of the pipe cost less than $20. We had to dig a 6 foot deep hole at the leak site although we had to find it first which can be difficult. It took 4 of us...2 kids and 2 adults...an entire 4 days. But, we saved around 8K (the quote). I'm not sure where your break is or if digging the hole yourself is an option, but if you did that, you might be able to knock some off your price. My husband made the repair once we got to the break so it really did cost us less than $20.

Good luck and I'm sorry! That sounds like a real pain!

adamthesmythe
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:10 pm

samsdad wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:11 pm
Wouldn’t this be covered by your homeowner’s policy?
Pretty sure not, indeed I think the only insurance that would cover it would be sewer line insurance. Even that will probably not cover the full cost. I suppose OP could ask, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

This is one of the biggish, difficult to predict, probably impractical to insure for expenses associated with owning a house.

crossbow
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by crossbow » Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:28 pm

daheld wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:32 pm
pennylane wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:52 pm
Recently found out the main sewer line under my house might be broken, when running any sort of water we see the water moving under the house. We are getting a sewer smell inside the house when we do turn the water on. Purchased the home less than 6 months ago.

Anyone have experience with this issue or have had this problem before? Any suggestions?
How do you see water running under your house?
Glass flooring :happy

quantAndHold
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:36 pm

daheld wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:32 pm
pennylane wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:52 pm
Recently found out the main sewer line under my house might be broken, when running any sort of water we see the water moving under the house. We are getting a sewer smell inside the house when we do turn the water on. Purchased the home less than 6 months ago.

Anyone have experience with this issue or have had this problem before? Any suggestions?
How do you see water running under your house?
I assume it’s in a location where houses are built over crawl spaces instead of basements. We could have seen water running under our last house.

JimMolony
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by JimMolony » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:41 pm

Did you house purchase come with a Home Warranty? Many times the seller provides a 1 year policy. If so, make the claim.

If not, it will be an expensive fix, but you really have no alternative.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:49 pm

See recent thread on this topic.
Some cities pay for insurance, check if yours does.

viewtopic.php?t=264134

Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Mon Nov 26, 2018 6:17 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:49 pm
See recent thread on this topic.
Some cities pay for insurance, check if yours does.

viewtopic.php?t=264134
It’s the homeowners who pay, never heard of any city or municipalities buying insurance to cover such an expensive repair or replacement.
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NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:10 pm

Some cities do include it, paid for by property taxes collected. Most don't, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Almost all cities in my county, except mine, pay for it.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Doom&Gloom » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:41 pm

A few years ago sewer line in the backyard broke. City sent out a few guys and fixed it in a couple of hours. Nothing required to get to it but digging in the yard, so it would have been nowhere near $10k to fix, but I was relieved that they fixed it. I was even able to overlook the ruts in the yard from a couple of pickup trucks.

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tuningfork
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by tuningfork » Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:48 pm

Similar situation here. In my case the symptom was blockage of the sewage line every 12 to 18 months that had to be rotorooted. They used a video camera to find the breakage, which was a few feet under a concrete porch (not under the house, thankfully). They had to cut into part of the porch, replace about 3 feet of old clay pipe with PVC, and repair the porch. About $4K.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by WhyNotUs » Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:23 pm

+1 for the tool below.
You referred to it as a "main" but it is probably a service line. The sewer provider will usually deal with issues on the main but the service line is homeowners responsibility in places that I have lived or worked. Camera will help you figure out what is happening. If there is sign from a long standing issue, then I might be tempted to send a lawyerly letter to the previous owner asking what they knew about that.
tuningfork wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 7:48 pm
They used a video camera to find the breakage, which was a few feet under a concrete porch (not under the house, thankfully).
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ADower
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by ADower » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:06 am

Home warranty is your best bet if you have one.

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RootSki
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by RootSki » Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:24 am

Did you do a pre-sale home inspection?

Nissanzx1
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Nissanzx1 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:39 am

RootSki wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:24 am
Did you do a pre-sale home inspection?
I've paid for 2 sewer line replacements in my life. Now I pay for sewer camera inspection before I purchase. My lines were $4000 each. I live in the Midwest. Make sure you get at least 3 estimates specifically from plumbers who specialize in this. I think $10,000 is a bit rich unless you are in HCOL area or have a run of several hundred feet. Good Luck!

L1tt1eMinon
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by L1tt1eMinon » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:10 am

Do you have access to water and sewer line insurance when you bought the house? It was available to purchase for me under my water company. Sewer line isn’t covered in home owner insurance.

michaeljc70
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:55 am

My Grandma had to have a broken sewer line fixed (not replaced) last year. It was in her front yard and no breaking of concrete was required. There was a break (visible from camera probe) that had to be repaired. That was $3500.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:01 am

UHCOL area.
Tenant dumped aquarium sand down the toilet, with chunks of crushed coral. (said it was from previous tenant. . . of course).
Debris travelled to main lateral servicing 6 rental units and stopped. Video camera showed it completely stuck. Large drain snake unable to clear.
Concrete "coring" and excavation to concrete slab in main courtyard and remove and install new section of main lateral drain.
$30,000+
:oops:
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Topic Author
pennylane
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by pennylane » Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am

Nissanzx1 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:39 am
RootSki wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:24 am
Did you do a pre-sale home inspection?
I've paid for 2 sewer line replacements in my life. Now I pay for sewer camera inspection before I purchase. My lines were $4000 each. I live in the Midwest. Make sure you get at least 3 estimates specifically from plumbers who specialize in this. I think $10,000 is a bit rich unless you are in HCOL area or have a run of several hundred feet. Good Luck!
The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options

daheld
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by daheld » Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:27 am

pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am
Nissanzx1 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:39 am
RootSki wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:24 am
Did you do a pre-sale home inspection?
I've paid for 2 sewer line replacements in my life. Now I pay for sewer camera inspection before I purchase. My lines were $4000 each. I live in the Midwest. Make sure you get at least 3 estimates specifically from plumbers who specialize in this. I think $10,000 is a bit rich unless you are in HCOL area or have a run of several hundred feet. Good Luck!
The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options
Often, the cost to do a cured in place epoxy liner is cheaper than the cost to excavate. You're correct that the actual material cost is essentially nothing, but it costs a lot to get to the pipe, especially if there's concrete above. I had a section under a front porch slab repaired using the cured in place liner and it cost $3,000 in a midwestern metro area.

Topic Author
pennylane
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by pennylane » Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am

daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:27 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am
Nissanzx1 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:39 am
RootSki wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:24 am
Did you do a pre-sale home inspection?
I've paid for 2 sewer line replacements in my life. Now I pay for sewer camera inspection before I purchase. My lines were $4000 each. I live in the Midwest. Make sure you get at least 3 estimates specifically from plumbers who specialize in this. I think $10,000 is a bit rich unless you are in HCOL area or have a run of several hundred feet. Good Luck!
The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options
Often, the cost to do a cured in place epoxy liner is cheaper than the cost to excavate. You're correct that the actual material cost is essentially nothing, but it costs a lot to get to the pipe, especially if there's concrete above. I had a section under a front porch slab repaired using the cured in place liner and it cost $3,000 in a midwestern metro area.
It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.

daheld
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by daheld » Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:59 am

pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am
daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:27 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am
Nissanzx1 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:39 am
RootSki wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:24 am
Did you do a pre-sale home inspection?
I've paid for 2 sewer line replacements in my life. Now I pay for sewer camera inspection before I purchase. My lines were $4000 each. I live in the Midwest. Make sure you get at least 3 estimates specifically from plumbers who specialize in this. I think $10,000 is a bit rich unless you are in HCOL area or have a run of several hundred feet. Good Luck!
The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options
Often, the cost to do a cured in place epoxy liner is cheaper than the cost to excavate. You're correct that the actual material cost is essentially nothing, but it costs a lot to get to the pipe, especially if there's concrete above. I had a section under a front porch slab repaired using the cured in place liner and it cost $3,000 in a midwestern metro area.
It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.
Is the actual break located under the home in a crawl space?

fposte
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by fposte » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:05 am

pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am

It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.
Have you had estimates from any other contractors? That will help you get an idea of the standard of cost.

It's quite likely that they're not going to hand-shovel but bring in equipment--sewer pipes are buried deep--and equipment costs.

Topic Author
pennylane
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by pennylane » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:09 am

daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:59 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am
daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:27 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am
Nissanzx1 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:39 am


I've paid for 2 sewer line replacements in my life. Now I pay for sewer camera inspection before I purchase. My lines were $4000 each. I live in the Midwest. Make sure you get at least 3 estimates specifically from plumbers who specialize in this. I think $10,000 is a bit rich unless you are in HCOL area or have a run of several hundred feet. Good Luck!
The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options
Often, the cost to do a cured in place epoxy liner is cheaper than the cost to excavate. You're correct that the actual material cost is essentially nothing, but it costs a lot to get to the pipe, especially if there's concrete above. I had a section under a front porch slab repaired using the cured in place liner and it cost $3,000 in a midwestern metro area.
It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.
Is the actual break located under the home in a crawl space?
Yes, it is under the house. About 3 feet from the crawlspace entrance. The crawlspace is less than 2 feet high so I don’t see much machinery fitting in there.

daheld
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Location: Midwest US

Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by daheld » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:42 am

pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:09 am
daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:59 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am
daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:27 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am


The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options
Often, the cost to do a cured in place epoxy liner is cheaper than the cost to excavate. You're correct that the actual material cost is essentially nothing, but it costs a lot to get to the pipe, especially if there's concrete above. I had a section under a front porch slab repaired using the cured in place liner and it cost $3,000 in a midwestern metro area.
It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.
Is the actual break located under the home in a crawl space?
Yes, it is under the house. About 3 feet from the crawlspace entrance. The crawlspace is less than 2 feet high so I don’t see much machinery fitting in there.
Got it. Thanks for clarifying. It takes a lot bigger hole than I think most people realize to replace bad pipe sections. I think getting the dirt excavated around the pipe might be more delicate and labor intensive than you'd think. I would contact some trenchless pipe repair places. There are a number of different methods that are better suited for different scenarios. As I said, I had a cured in place pipe done for a crack in the wastewater/sewer line that was just outside the foundation of my home. They accessed the pipe using the access in the yard, and it took half a day. Cost was $3000. The area of broken pipe was very small, but it was much cheaper than it would have been to excavate. PM me with questions. I'm not a plumber, but I've been through it before...

Topic Author
pennylane
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by pennylane » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:45 am

daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:42 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:09 am
daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:59 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am
daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:27 am


Often, the cost to do a cured in place epoxy liner is cheaper than the cost to excavate. You're correct that the actual material cost is essentially nothing, but it costs a lot to get to the pipe, especially if there's concrete above. I had a section under a front porch slab repaired using the cured in place liner and it cost $3,000 in a midwestern metro area.
It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.
Is the actual break located under the home in a crawl space?
Yes, it is under the house. About 3 feet from the crawlspace entrance. The crawlspace is less than 2 feet high so I don’t see much machinery fitting in there.
Got it. Thanks for clarifying. It takes a lot bigger hole than I think most people realize to replace bad pipe sections. I think getting the dirt excavated around the pipe might be more delicate and labor intensive than you'd think. I would contact some trenchless pipe repair places. There are a number of different methods that are better suited for different scenarios. As I said, I had a cured in place pipe done for a crack in the wastewater/sewer line that was just outside the foundation of my home. They accessed the pipe using the access in the yard, and it took half a day. Cost was $3000. The area of broken pipe was very small, but it was much cheaper than it would have been to excavate. PM me with questions. I'm not a plumber, but I've been through it before...
Great information, thank you very much! I will be contacting other companies for alternative options tomorrow. I’m having the contractor come back with a plumber today to further asses the pipe.

euroswiss
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by euroswiss » Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:01 pm

fposte wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:05 am


It's quite likely that they're not going to hand-shovel but bring in equipment--sewer pipes are buried deep--and equipment costs.
This may be a regional thing but actually in crawlspaces, sewer pipes are NOT typically buried deep. In fact, I have a half dozen rental properties with crawl spaces and in every case, the sewer pipes actually run above ground for most of the crawl space and only enter the ground near the foundations. Of course, specific topographies may make a difference, but I'd think there is a good chance that the OP's pipe can be dug up rather readily (although digging with only 2 ft clearance is a HUGE pain in the neck). If so, 10k is VERY expensive.

CurlyDave
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by CurlyDave » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:16 am

pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am

...The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options
Are you saying the break is in the crawl space and is accessible?

Even if the crawl space is only 2' high a guy could crawl in there and fix the sewer pipe in less that two hours.

Is the pipe black plastic ABS, is it cast iron, or cast steel?

If it is ABS, I could get in there and fix that pipe in less than 2 hours and I am 73 years old.

I would call a handyman instead of a plumber. If he can see and get to the pipe he should charge less than $500. I just don't see a downside to this course of action. Even if he screws it up completely you are only out a few hundred which is a very small fraction of the $10k.

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Nate79
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Nate79 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:41 am

A little off topic but this thread just reminds me that with both septic and sewer issues can happen that can be very expensive. Our previous house had a septic system which upon inspection when we went to sell it was found to have a leak and required fixing to the tune of $7k. Everyone seems freaked out about septic systems being high risk expensive systems (which they can be) but here is a perfect example that public sewer access can also have it's problems and potential high cost.

tibbitts
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by tibbitts » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:58 am

fposte wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:05 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am

It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.
Have you had estimates from any other contractors? That will help you get an idea of the standard of cost.

It's quite likely that they're not going to hand-shovel but bring in equipment--sewer pipes are buried deep--and equipment costs.
I'm not sure neighbors have to give right-of-way for equipment (they may have to for the city, but maybe not for you?)

I'm confused after reading the other posts - hand-shoveling under a crawl space is far more difficult than in the open, if that's what's involved.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:20 am

As the area of excavation is under the home, near the perimeter, there is the issue of structural integrity to the foundation and footings.
Caution. :shock:
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lostdog
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by lostdog » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:24 am

Seeing this stuff makes me want to sell my house and rent. Extra peace of mind.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by unclescrooge » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:43 am

daheld wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:27 am
pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:09 am
Nissanzx1 wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:39 am
RootSki wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:24 am
Did you do a pre-sale home inspection?
I've paid for 2 sewer line replacements in my life. Now I pay for sewer camera inspection before I purchase. My lines were $4000 each. I live in the Midwest. Make sure you get at least 3 estimates specifically from plumbers who specialize in this. I think $10,000 is a bit rich unless you are in HCOL area or have a run of several hundred feet. Good Luck!
The water break is approx 3 feet from the crawl space entrance. The height is less than 2 feet but I’m assuming it’s a small crack or break in the pipe. 10,000 does seem like a lot for a job that would probably take 2 days to do and probably $20 in material.

Thank you everyone for your input, I’m trying to figure out my options
Often, the cost to do a cured in place epoxy liner is cheaper than the cost to excavate. You're correct that the actual material cost is essentially nothing, but it costs a lot to get to the pipe, especially if there's concrete above. I had a section under a front porch slab repaired using the cured in place liner and it cost $3,000 in a midwestern metro area.
This is what I did too.
Had severe root intrusion in an abandoned house in multiple places. First plumber wanted to dig up 27 ft of driveway and side walk. I got someone else to line the sewer line with epoxy all the way to the main sewer line. $4800 in VHCOL.

brianH
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by brianH » Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:33 am

Nate79 wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:41 am
A little off topic but this thread just reminds me that with both septic and sewer issues can happen that can be very expensive. Our previous house had a septic system which upon inspection when we went to sell it was found to have a leak and required fixing to the tune of $7k. Everyone seems freaked out about septic systems being high risk expensive systems (which they can be) but here is a perfect example that public sewer access can also have it's problems and potential high cost.
I agree about the fear of septic systems without considering the issue with public sewer.

Another possible issue with public sewer many don't think about is backups. If some dummy in your neighborhood decides to flush cat litter and plugs up a sewer main, and you have the lowest-lying house lateral, you're going to experience a very unfortunate event. Worse is that this type of 'flood' typically isn't covered under insurance without a separate sewage backup rider.

jharkin
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by jharkin » Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:53 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:10 pm
samsdad wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:11 pm
Wouldn’t this be covered by your homeowner’s policy?
Pretty sure not, indeed I think the only insurance that would cover it would be sewer line insurance. Even that will probably not cover the full cost. I suppose OP could ask, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

This is one of the biggish, difficult to predict, probably impractical to insure for expenses associated with owning a house.
In general, insurance pays out for things that fail due to an unexpected outside influence - not simply old and worn out. I.e. you get a new roof if it gets destroyed in a tornado, but not just because your "30 year shingles" are 30 years old.

Sewer line may just be failing because of age... I see no reason why that's an insurable risk unless its earhtquake, flood, etc damage.
Last edited by jharkin on Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jharkin
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by jharkin » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:00 pm

pennylane wrote:
Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:44 am

It’s actually under dirt so I believe an hour of shoveling will be enough to uncover the pipe. I can’t wrap my head around the cost. Not sure if contractor is taking advantage of the situation.
OK, if its actually only one small break in a section of pipe like that, they should be able to dig it up and patch. They can even cut out sections of cast iron and patch in PVC. I had to do that once to my septic - there was a crack in the output pipe to the drainfield, I dug it up, cut out 1 foot of PVC with a saw and glued in a coupler. The digging was the hardest part, the repair itself took <10 minutes.

Ive also had leaking iron sewer pipe inside the basement repaired. Plumber cut out a section and used special unions to patch in PVC. Only cost a few hundred $.

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pennylane
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by pennylane » Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:49 pm

UPDATE

Yesterday I had the contractor who initially quoted 10k come back with a plumber - he said the job would be between 18-21k. I don't think this guy has any idea what he's talking about when it comes to sewers or he's trying to take me for a ride.

He proposed we start the work without snaking/putting a camera down the sewer - which is a nogo for me. I want to see the issue and know before I dive in to this.

I have a different company coming out today to look at the pipe with a camera. Will update as I go along. Thank you everyone for your input, it has been a tremendous help.

fposte
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by fposte » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:49 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:58 am

I'm not sure neighbors have to give right-of-way for equipment (they may have to for the city, but maybe not for you?)

I'm confused after reading the other posts - hand-shoveling under a crawl space is far more difficult than in the open, if that's what's involved.
I wasn't clear, from what my plumbers said, if the law in my town granted them some right of way or if it was just one of those things people just put up with sometimes to live in a civilization; obviously I was on the hook for repairing any damage from the digging. I was extremely fortunate in my neighbors, who were cheerfully permissive and asked nothing but the cost of grass seed and labor to reseed the dug up area (the dig actually happened in their yard, since my pipe was broken right where it joined the city main). (They were originally going to drive the digger through the yard of my other neighbors, who were also cheerfully permissive. I love my neighbors.)

I'm not really clear on the location and challenge when it comes to the crawl space; I could definitely imagine being tougher to dig there. I think she's wise to hold off until she gets some other opinions and some video.

daheld
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by daheld » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:17 pm

pennylane wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:49 pm
UPDATE

Yesterday I had the contractor who initially quoted 10k come back with a plumber - he said the job would be between 18-21k. I don't think this guy has any idea what he's talking about when it comes to sewers or he's trying to take me for a ride.

He proposed we start the work without snaking/putting a camera down the sewer - which is a nogo for me. I want to see the issue and know before I dive in to this.

I have a different company coming out today to look at the pipe with a camera. Will update as I go along. Thank you everyone for your input, it has been a tremendous help.
So you still don't really know exactly what and where the problem is? Scoping it with a camera should have been step 1. You could be dealing with a small crack or a huge section of cast iron that's totally crumbled and collapsed. Those different scenarios will cost more or less, depending which it is. I still think you're going to find that having a trenchless repair done will be the most cost effective solution.

In the original post you mentioned you bought the home 6 months ago--was the sewer line not scoped with a camera during home inspections? That is a pretty standard home inspection practice where I am, and I HIGHLY recommend it when buying any home.

ralph124cf
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by ralph124cf » Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:53 pm

IF you do have to dig by hand in the crawl space, most workers use a pick and spade with the handle cut down to a foot or two.

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wilked
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by wilked » Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:09 pm

Haven't seen it mentioned, but be sure to understand 'why' the break occurred so you don't have to do the same thing in 6 more months

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tyrion
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Re: Broken Sewer pipe - $10,000 to fix

Post by tyrion » Wed Nov 28, 2018 5:04 pm

pennylane wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:49 pm
UPDATE

Yesterday I had the contractor who initially quoted 10k come back with a plumber - he said the job would be between 18-21k. I don't think this guy has any idea what he's talking about when it comes to sewers or he's trying to take me for a ride.

He proposed we start the work without snaking/putting a camera down the sewer - which is a nogo for me. I want to see the issue and know before I dive in to this.

I have a different company coming out today to look at the pipe with a camera. Will update as I go along. Thank you everyone for your input, it has been a tremendous help.
This should be interesting.

Last time I had a similar issue (roots, not a full break) I paid for the camera and they gave me the video for it.

With the video you should be able to get a few different people to quote the work.

I felt like the plumber was using the situation (no ability to shower or flush toilets) as a lever to charge an inflated fee as I didn't really have time to get a bunch of quotes. If it happened again, I would resist that time pressure and get multiple quotes. In our case it was a dig of the lateral down about 8 feet in the front yard, cut the pipe and install double sweep cleanouts. $1000. Still irritates me to this day, although I suspect we didn't overpay by THAT much.

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