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Goner Message Board / Memphis / I need a plumber!
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 10:14 am
As I was leaving for work this morning, the neighbor alerted me of a sewage/plumbing issue on the side of my house (that is adjacent to her vegetable garden). It's not an emergency, but needs to be addressed soon. Can anyone recommend a plumber?
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 10:26 am
James Ramsey...737-5151


Good guy...good plumber.
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 2:44 pm
Thanks for the info, colin. James Ramsey is booked up and can't make it by for at least a week (he did say he'd give me a call if his schedule opened up, though). I need a plumber in the next couple of days. Anyone else know a good one?
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 2:45 pm
i can get you a number when i get home
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 2:55 pm
Thanks, bruce!
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 3:42 pm
Scott has the crack for the job.
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 3:46 pm
i thought miss linda had all the crack
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 3:53 pm
I'd LOVE to see miss linda fix my broken sewer cap. Maybe her wig would act as a powerful seal.
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 5:17 pm
hix plumbing, 2902 walker ave, 864-5945.
is it just the cap, i could probably do that if you want to get a new cap
Posted: Jun 13, 2008 7:01 pm
gee, did the house inspector notice this prior to you buying the place?

i wonder.
Posted: Jun 14, 2008 11:28 am
did the house inspector notice

Oh, of course not. Apparently the previous owner had had a plumber do a quick fix by inserting plastic piping and a new cap into the old clay pipe, which is cracked. It held for a while but has now popped out of the clay pipe. Looked fine during house inspection but not so now. The neighbor was kind enough to tell me it had been a recurring problem.

Thanks again Bruce (I mean, Jeannie) for the # for Hix. ;-)
Posted: Jun 14, 2008 2:40 pm
old clay pipe,

do you have big trees on your property by any chance?

if so... ask your plumber about snaking a video camera thingie into that pipe.

a couple years ago, my old clay pipes caused my entire ground floor plumbing to back up and flood the ground floor with sewage -- tree root invasion into the clay pipes.

had to get the clay pipes replaced by new PVC ones; dug up drive way and county street, etc.

check it out before it costs you a (pun intended?) shit ton of money...
Posted: Jun 16, 2008 9:51 am
Yup, I got trees. Big trees, small trees = root intrusion = cracked clay pipe.

Hix came out and said they can TRY to snake the pipe and some other things, but ultimately the entire length of clay pipe needs to be replaced or I'm just gonna be doing the same band-aid repairs over and over. And... in order to replace the sewer line down the side of my house, they'll need to either a) tear out half of my front porch (the old line runs UNDER the porch, which is a concrete slab on top of a concrete perimeter foundation) OR b) run a new line down the side of my porch, which will require removing a medium-sized tree that is on my side property line. I'm gonna get a couple other estimates, but I'm thinking option b is a better solution - as long as I can get the neighbor to agree to it. Crap.

Anybody know a good tree guy?!
Posted: Jun 16, 2008 9:56 am
And I'm calling an attorney today to see if it's worth pursuing a lawsuit, although I understand I'd have to PROVE that the previous owner knew that the work she had done was only a temporary fix for a major problem (to the tune of $3,000 or so).

But I need a tree guy ASAP. And at least one other plumber to come and give me a cost estimate. HELP?!
Posted: Jun 16, 2008 7:14 pm
They only replace that stuff with PVC these days because roots cannot penetrate PVC. They dont use clay or terra cota piping anymore at all. It wasnt a quick fix it was quite possibly the only fix.
Posted: Jun 16, 2008 8:13 pm
Gina -- get Ramsey over there to check it out.

when I bought my house, he replaced the entire water line to the street. later on, I had some invasive tree roots, and he fixed that too, on a house that had terra cotta pipes that dated back to 1911.

I hooked up some other friends with him who had a similar problem to yours; they were told they had to rip out an entire sun room floor but he was able to pinpoint the problem and fix their system with minimal damage. he is some kind of plumbing savant that has had a lot of experience with old homes, and is very patient about figuring out WHERE the problem is and how to attack it.

call him again and tell him whassup; when he gets a break in his schedule I\'m sure he can help.

as far as buying a house with the previous problem, over half the people I know who have bought in Midtown have had this exact problem to deal with -- within 6 months of moving in! dunno if it\'s stressed out sewer lines or what, but it seems like it\'s happened to almost everyone...
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 12:17 pm
Unfortunately, Ramsey is totally booked up right now and hasn't been available to come by. After the plumber from Hix Plumbing scared the bejeezus outta me on Friday, I called another plumber for another estimate.

I got a good guy, Kevin with Picture Perfect Plumbing, to come out this morning - he gave me multiple options for fixing the problem, very thoroughly cleaned out the line, and took a video of the sewer line from the clean-out to the sidewalk to give me specifics about where the problem is occuring for a total of $198. Happily, I am looking at a less expensive job than anticipated as less than half of the sewer line actually needs to be replaced and only in the front yard. The sewer line in my side yard (and under my front porch) has no root intrusion (no trees at all in that area of my yard) and is in surprisingly good shape. Phew!

Now I can start saving $$ for the "big dig" and tree removal in my front yard to occur in a month or two. I will definitely call Ramsey again and get an estimate from him for replacement of a portion of the line when I'm ready.

Thanks everybody! I was prepared for this kinda stuff, knowing how old houses are. It's just a drag to have this happen before I've even made my first mortgage payment - ack!
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 12:44 pm | Edited by: SAMBEAUX
Use Golightly's tree guy.

Before the first mortgage payment you say, I'd say that's mighty suspicious...
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 1:02 pm
Before the first mortgage payment you say, I'd say that's mighty suspicious...

i agree...you shouldn't be paying a dime for that if you've just bought the house - ours came with a home warranty for the first year.
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 1:17 pm
if you had it inspected, the inspector may bear some responsibility, though generally per the agreement you signed it won't exceed the inspection fee.
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 2:36 pm
Did either of the plumbers you spoke with give you options of installing a liner or of pipe bursting - both of which would not require excavation. I've done both in the past without excavating and they worked just fine. Whatever.
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 2:50 pm
Things that are totally unseen like cracked pipes cannot be detected by even the best home inspector. Older homes in midtown have all kinds of quirks, which is something you will just have to get used to. I will agree that if the person that sold you the home knew of exisiting plumbing issues, they were supposed to disclose that in the property disclosure which is part of the contract. As far as those "home warrantys", we had the one that they sell everybody called Home Shield and they will do every thing possible to skimp on the work. Worthless if ya ask me.
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 4:33 pm
I didn't purchase a home warranty as they seem to cover so very little. I agree with colin - they seem totally worthless. One wasn't offered as part of the deal as they came down on the asking price AND did $3,000 worth of repairs before I moved in.

The visible plumbing looked good when the home inspector saw it. The clean out and pipe that surfaced above grade was pvc and lead us to believe there had been some recent upgrades.

It's likely the previous owner knew about the need for an eventual replacement - the neighbor says it's been a recurring problem and it would be clear to any plumber who came out to clear the line that the old clay pipes would need to be replaced at some point. However, I'd have to find a way to prove that the previous owner intentionally hid/failed to disclose the problem as an existing defect and file a suit against her. Not really my bag. If failure to disclose could easily be proven or the cost of the repair was greater I'd be likely to pursue it, but I know enough about old homes to have anticipated this kind of thing - just wasn't expecting it so damn soon.

Did either of the plumbers you spoke with give you options of installing a liner or of pipe bursting - both of which would not require excavation.
No, they didn't. A liner is probably a bad idea as it would further narrow the existing pipe where there is some major root intrusion and cracked clay pipe. From my experience working in a building/plumbing permits department, I've heard some real nightmare stories about liners. And I've heard pipe bursting is really expensive, but am interested to know more about it.
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 4:54 pm
And I've heard pipe bursting is really expensive, but am interested to know more about it.

I've heard the same and that it's proprietary to RotoRooter.
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 5:01 pm
It's actually a bit cheaper than a traditional, open trench replacement. Certain factors may prohibit it as an option but it's a pretty simple thing. They have this pneumatic, rocket-shaped end that they winch through the existing line which steps up in diameter (they have different sizes down to 4") and a hydraulic line sends pulses to the head that shatters the existing pipe and pushes it out of the way. As the head is pulled through the line, it also is pulling the new pipe through. Usually, backfill of the original line will allow for some small expansion. You might have troubles with pipe bursting if other utilities are right next to it as the pulses do put out some small shockwaves, but nothing that bad. If it's a pretty straight shot and you aren't on a party-line, you should be able to get the whole thing replaced with only a minor excavation at the street for cheaper than an open trench. You might also, initially, see some surface bulging of the new line - depending on how deep the old line is, the materials used for backfill, etc..

I don't know how it is where you live, but in Portland, it's pretty common for all of the older houses to have failing lines and pipe bursting is pretty common, so if they say it would cost more, it may be that they don't have the equipment handy. I just mentioned it because it's come up a few times for me.
Posted: Jun 17, 2008 5:02 pm
that it's proprietary to RotoRooter

Not at all. There are several manufacturers of bursting equipment. It shouldn't be more expensive.
Posted: Jun 18, 2008 10:21 am
Yeah, I don't think any of these plumber dudes I'm dealing with have pipe bursting equipment. They're Master Plumbers with a couple of helpers, working for themselves. Also, my gas line runs near the sewer line (less than 10 feet away), so pipe bursting may not be the answer.
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