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 Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: southj20 (VA)

Hoping someone can help. It’s my grandmother’s 100 yr. old house, vitrified clay pipes, no house trap, 77ft. to main.

Water in 1st floor toilet bowl was rising when 2nd floor toilet was flushed. Called plumbers who did drain/sewer work and they sent out 2 guys, pulled 1st floor toilet, tried to inspect with camera but they said line was filled with water so they couldn’t see anything b/c I had sewer line blockage.They said they needed to hydro-jet the line but would first have to install a cleanout outside house to do so, total cost around $4200.

After they installed cleanout, same 2 guys came back next afternoon (late Fri.) to jet the line but were unsuccessful & had to stop when they said their jetter hose got to 200ft. and then ruptured. Now they say they have to order a new hose Mon., then come back next week to jet more (further than 200ft.) because they haven’t reached the problem yet.

What’s confusing me, is the distance from the cleanout to the city sewer main is only 77ft.

City came out twice over the weekend and inspected sewer main through manhole & said it’s clear. Nobody else on the street is having any issues. Also had city pull records & they sent an engineer out to confirm the distance and location of my lateral line, and where it tied-in to their main. I told him about the hydro-jetters hose bursting when they had 200ft. of hose out & he was quite confused as to why they would be jetting at 200ft. when my lateral line is only 77ft to the main.

So, I asked the plumber how far he thought my line was to the main, and he said he had no idea. I then asked where was the location of the clog, and again he said he had no idea. I said I want to talk to the owner who I then called and asked, “why they were jetting at 200ft. and wanting to go even further, when my line is only 77ft to the main?” He got offended and said they were the experts. Told me that neither I nor the city engineer had any clue of how things work, even though he wasn’t even familiar with the jobsite specs, he was just getting his info from his guy.

Part of the problem is, this is my 92 yr. old Granny’s house and I am 2 hrs. away and have to all correspondence over the phone.

Can anybody tell me if this sounds normal? I’m worried that the 2 guys they sent out are less than competent, and now the owner is just covering. Should they have known it’s only 77ft. to the main? If not, how would they know how far they would have needed to go? Why would they need to be jetting any further than the city main, let alone out at 200+ft. ?




Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: packy (MA)

to me the time to have cleared the pipe was when they had the hole dug and the pipe opened wide.
in any case the city needs to get involved.
guesses (even educated ones) are not answers at this point.

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: southj20 (VA)

The City is involved.I called Sat. & they sent a tech out to inspect the main through manhole. He said all clear on their side. Then I called the City again yesterday,(Mon.) & they had an engineer come out. That's when he confirmed for me the length & location of my lateral to the city main. He checked main as well and confirmed problem must be on my line, and not in the sewer main.

[The City came out twice over the weekend and inspected sewer main through manhole & said it’s clear. Nobody else on the street is having any issues. Also had city pull records & they sent an engineer out to confirm the distance and location of my lateral line, and where it tied-in to their main. I told him about the hydro-jetters hose bursting when they had 200ft. of hose out & he was quite confused as to why they would be jetting at 200ft. when my lateral line is only 77ft to the main.]

How else do I involve the City?

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: packy (MA)

at this point i would try another drain cleaning company.
have the engineer onsite as well.
something is wrong and it can't be that complicated to figure out ????

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: southj20 (VA)

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: southj20 (VA)

Thank you. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something here.

I will try to contact another drain co.. The only reason I haven't yet is b/c family is concerned with what the final bill might be; & they were worried it would be a waste b/c the plumbers said not to bother b/c no ones camera could see w/ water in pipe. I would definitely like a 2nd opinion though.

I asked if I could have a copy of the original (and only) video camera inspection but the owner told me "they didn't record it b/c with water in pipe you couldn't see anything."



Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: packy (MA)

if i wrote what i really think, the owner of the site would delete it. all i can say is i'm sorry you're having this much trouble and expense. it isn't right.

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: sum (FL)

I am not a professional in the plumbing industry just a seasoned DIYer, but there are a few puzzles here.

First, it is exceedingly difficult if you are not on site and be with the crew while they are working and be able to talk to them real time while they were making decisions.

(1) Why is there a need to install a cleanout on the outside. Sure, having a CO outside where the main drain exits the house is a good thing, it makes it less messy for future cleaning of blockage if the blockage is downstream of it. But if they had already pulled the toilet inside, and did the snaking from there, why would they need to install a CO on the outside? This one I don't get. That seems like something the homeowner should opt to do after the issue has been resolved, there is no urgency to install a CO outside UNLESS (a) they have determined the location of the blockage to be downstream of the house (b) and where it exits there is a pipe size change to a larger pipe and they want to use a bigger snake for the larger pipe (c) the machine they have for the jetting is big and would not fit inside that indoor bathroom but again they were already jetting from the bathroom right?

(2) How deep is the CO outside? Is the new CO facing towards the street or some sort of a two way CO? Have the plumber determined that the pipe is cleared between the bathroom and the new CO? How did they determine that? It seems if the determination has been made that the pipe under the house is fine, and the blockage is downstream, then they should be able to at least camera from the bathroom to the new CO location and provide you with the footage.

(3) Why would they say they snaked 200' when the line is only 77' to the street main? No idea. May be they made a mistake, may be they were incompetent, or worse yet trying to build up the trip charges and eventually talk you into a total pipe replacement. There is also a chance the 200' is not a distance from CO down, but a "total distance jetted". That's why I asked if you know if the CO is a two way install, where they may have sent the jet up stream back into the house and jetted 80', then downstream to the street for 90' then counted a total of 170', but many drain cleaners do not really count how many feet "inserted" from my experience they take out 25' or 50' rolls to extend their existing, so if they started with 50' and they took out 3 rolls they just count it as 200' total regardless.

(4) One thing some of the drain cleaning companies do when a snake gets lost or missed the blockage is to say your pipe has collapsed or damaged beyond repair, which caused their snake to punch a hole on the pipe wall, or exits through a collaped section of the pipe and then from there on it's just twisting and pushing forward in the dirt and no longer inside the pipe. This is usually where they will pitch the total pipe replacement.

(5) no footage of the camera because the drain was blocked and full of water. While this may be true, usually the recording starts when the technician sends in the camera. At that point the tech does not know the pipe is full of water, not yet. The camera should have an indicator on how far down the pipe the camera went. You would see that number increases as the camera is inserted deeper and decreases if the camera is pulled back. The recording can also include audio with the tech's voice while it's being done. Even if it's full of water you can still push the camera forward so you can say "from 34 feet its full of water then it came out of the water at 42 feet..." so if they can't provide the footage because it's full of water, then it's either the technician decided since it's full of water the video is useless and deleted it, or they did not record it to from the get go with no intention to provide the footage. Many of these cameras may be old and either missing the distance gauge, or the audio not working, or may be the tech did not have a CD or a USB stick with him. If I were you I would call him back and say at a minimum, since you paid for an inspection by a camera, you want the camera footage. If they cannot provide that now, then ask for it to be redone. They should cam from that bathroom all the way to the newly installed cleanout, that section should be clear without issue right? AND if they claimed the jet went 200' without encountering blockage, then provide cam footage from new CO down 200' (heck even just 100'). Tell them you need the camera footage for insurance purposes, that you might file a claim and the insurance will require cam footage. You paid for cam inspection you should have a recording of cam inspection. I would even argue that since there is a discrepancy about the 200' jetting to nowhere, and the main is only 77' out, let's do a cam inspection of the pipe. Fist go from bathroom to the CO, then go from CO out to the street. Let's see where it's FULL OF WATER. Make sure when cam is inserted into the CO, that the distance is set to ZERO, don't let them set it to 150' then insert the cam to give a false reading, and make sure you have them turn on audio to record things you and the tech say during the inspection so they cannot give you a CD of someone else's pipe and later claimed "Oh that was another job, I can't find yours..."

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 Re: Only 77ft. to city sewer main, why are they jetting over 200ft. ?
Author: Lorensr (CA)

The Plumber should have installed a two-way cleanout and then cleaned into the house first. Then clean to the street connection.

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