Ken Larsen's web site - Sewer line repair (November 2018)


I live in a neighborhood which was built during 1968-1972.  One of the houses has had a major sewer line break, and the entire line between the house and the street has had to be replaced.  I expect that every house in our neighborhood will eventually have to undergo the same repair.  That's why I'm interested in documenting this problem and its repair.  I and the rest of our neighborhood could benefit.


Here are pictures:


Rusted leaky cast iron pipe - one of many such pieces.  This pipe was brand new when it was installed 50 years ago. Now this piece is almost all gone.

The plumber who is replacing the pipe attributes the damage to sewer gases within the pipe since he didn't find any root damage.

One of my friends (John Morrison) attributes the damage to the acidity in our soil.  Soil in North Carolina is naturally acidic. 

I bought a pH meter and began using it on November 18, 2018.  [details]
Ditch needed to dig up the pipe.  This is part of the neighbor's property.  It needed to be dug up to gain access to the nearest sewer main.

The cast iron pipe is being replaced with PVC pipe. 

Article that compares PVC pipe to Cast iron pipe:  "Why do we prefer PVC pipes instead of iron pipes?"

Another view of the ditch across the neighbor's property.
This is the house which had the problem, 1114 Willow Drive.  It's owned by Lucy and Van Hatchell.  They bought the house in March of 2018 and moved in in late October.   Between March and October they made major renovations ... part of which was to help it better cope better with being in a flood plain.  One of the renovations was encapsulating the crawlspace.

A toilet starting backing up, and that led to the discovery of the sewer line problem.

It was originally believed that sewer line would only need to be replaced to the neighbor's property line, but their plumber discovered otherwise.
Brad Johnson Plumbing is the company which is fixing the problem.  They seem very meticulous.


I didn't ask how much the Hatchells are paying, but I have since learned that my friend John Morrison paid $ 14,000 to have a similar problem fixed at his house (Coker Hills neighborhood) in the summer of 2017.  John's house was built in the 1970s.  He started suspecting that something was awry when his washing machine began draining sluggishly.  John told me that the culprit is acid ground water in our part of North Carolina.  Iron pipes fall apart after 50 years of exposure to such acidity.  Interestingly, states out west have an alkaline problem.  That causes their pipes to clog.

John Morrison used a company called Drain Express to do his repair.  He was very pleased with their work.

John went on to tell me that in 2019 OWASA will replace a sewer line in his neighborhood.  Last week there was a major water main (16" pipe) break that affected all of Carrboro and Chapel Hill.  Fortunately, they fixed it fairly quickly.  


More info

More from other Briarcliff residents

I excerpted and edited these from posts to the neighborhood listserv.

Comment Source
Our own sewer line failed after about 25 years possibly due to moisture under the house. Charles Humble
We had to have ours replaced last January at a price of almost $8000.  Luckily our problem did not go all the way out into the street.
Allison Vollmer
We bought our house in 2009.  We were in it just 3 days before realizing that something was horribly wrong.  The drains were overflowing when we took showers or flushed toilets.  The prior owner had just replaced all the main drain lines in the house, but we wound up having to drop about another $10,000 in the first weeks we owned the house due to this problem.  In hind sight, in this neighborhood, with the unstable ground, one of the first questions I would ask on buying is "When was the main line last replaced?"
Christopher Rose
Has anyone used PSNCís sewer line repair insurance?  Itís about $6 a month and covers up to $5000 in repairs. This thread is making us consider it again. Michele Fletcher



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