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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    11

    Unhappy Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    We're out in Northern, Ca in a 100 year old 3000 sq. ft house. Started hearing a gurgling a few weeks back. Called a plumber out Friday when the downstairs toilet backed up and overflowed. We have no clean out that can be found. He was able to get a camera in the pipes near our kitchen and identified where the back up was under our deck. Our home warranty of course wouldn't cover the repair because it wasn't under the foundation of the house. The nice plumber laid out a broom handle over the top of where the problem was in the direction of the pipe and said it was only 18 inches deep. He told me it would be 4inch cast. So,yesterday hubby started digging, he dug and dug, not only did we not find anything in lying in that direction when we finally got down deep enough it appears there is a clay pipe going straight down into the ground, almost like we found the top. The way we found it was to continue digging until we found a puddle of water. We are so confused. The plumber laid out a diagram for us and made it seem like it would be easy to fix this but it's turning out to be anything but easy.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    WI
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    City sewer or septic?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    City sewer

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    this pipe I'm talking about is only about ten feet from the back of my house. I can take a picture if that will help.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    WI
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    I honestly don't know how to help,I just figured it might help the plumbing gurus when they read your question.
    Pictures never hurt,that's for sure.
    Have you tried calling the plumber back to see what his opinion is?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,436

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    What you probably have is a 4" clay main line. Clay drain lines are slowly being replaced with ABS.

    The cheapest and quickest fix would be to dig around the broken pipe, cut the clay 2' before the busted area and 2' after the area, remove all broken pieces and then replace it with a new ABS piece that long.

    For connectors you will need to use two 4" FLEXIBLE CLAY TO ABS COUPLINGS, available at the big stores and plumbing supply houses.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    I'm going to call the plumber tomorrow, I don't want to bother him on Sunday. I also am going to the City to see if there might be any building plans that might show the lay out of the plumbing. Hubby is a football coach and is at a combine with a couple of players today. I have another player coming over to dig for $10 an hour. I'm just not sure of whether I should have him continue digging around this clay pipe or if we should be looking for anything else. It seems impossible to even see where the pipe is damaged and if we go much deeper I think were going to have to shore up the hole. It's so strange for it to be buried so deep so close to the house, especially here. We only have frost a couple of days a year.

    Of course the more excavation we do the more we have to pull apart the deck.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,436

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    You didn't mention how deep the clay pipe is, but 10' away from the house it should be around 2' deep, in most cases.

    Your plumber ran a camera, saw the blockage and estimated the location. Not good enough.

    You need a drain pipe locator. For around $250 the plumber will bring his locator equipment: a metal snake to go inside the line and a sonar detector that he will use in the yard to locate the snake. Accuracy guaranteed.

    Until you know the exact location, don't waste money and time on digging.

    In my previous answer, I thought you knew where the busted pipe was.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,436

    Default Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    Another thing: the deeper you go, the more you will need to do it to code, which means following Cal OSHA requirements for shoring. If you're not sure, hire a lic pro. Trust me, you'll sleep better at night.

    A couple of diggers were buried alive in Rolling Hills, CA (near LA) recently. They were not following the code. Guess who's in hot waters now.

    Don't let your students dig deeper than 4'.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    11

    Talking Re: Main line busted, clay? help!!!

    I wish I could post pics, as soon as I have ten posts I can do that. We are so blessed to live where we do. Our friends and neighbors with old homes came over to help. We located the gigantic hole and removed our entire back yard deck and all of the old concrete underneath. Thankfully we stayed at a neighbors 4,500 sq.ft. craftsman house while this work was being done.

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