Weird sewer problem caused by Rotor Router


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This is one for the books. A simple clog in a 4" sewer drain became a nightmare months after I hired a contractor to clear it. It took me months to solve the problem that the contractor caused and without having to hire another contractor to solve my new problem that is not roots and now it would cost several thousands of dollars. It started 27 years ago when I replaced a 100 yr old ceramic pipe system with cemented hubs every 2 feet and installed a modern 4" plastic inside and green plastic outside all the way to the street as a DIY project. I secured a permit and installed the entire system for only a few hundred dollars from the basement to the spur then into the two ft main sewer line. The town told me to install a check valve or sometimes called a dewatering valve so that the city flow could not back into my house. I drew a map for the entire install and included this one way valve for the entire 40ft run. Thank God I saved my pencil drawing then i had gotten my first back up last year. I planned on purchasing a motorized arbor but not in time. So being it is a 3 family house that I own and I couldn't wait too long to do it myself I hired Rotor Router who cleared it in less than a half hour and discovered roots which I doubted because there are no trees in the area but none the less after charging $550. the flow was clear and I had a six month warrantee. Of coarse 8 months later it backed up again rather instantly without any signs of slow flow. This time I snaked it my self with a 50' steel band that my dad gave me from the 1950's. I did this in minutes and the flow was perfect again then a month later same thing, then I did the same thing and finally I had the thought that I bet that the contractor damaged the one way valve. Still reluctant to hire a contractor again I had a friend run a camera to confirm my theory. Sure enough at 12' from the basement cleanout he showed me a video of the shutter that was dislodged from its hinge and floating inside the small chamber that it was housed and intermittently sealed the out flow. This shutter is approx 4.5" and larger then the 4" pipe on either side of its housing. Now I know exactly where this valve is outside from my drawing that I made when I installed it. However it is 4' down and under a beautiful slate walk that would have to be dug up as well as a 70 yr old Japanese lace maple adjacient to it by a back hoe and on the coldest week of the year mid January. This is where the $6500. estimate comes in not counting restoring the slate walk way with a stacked stone border on both sides. Distroying this would cost probably more than the sewer line fix. Having this vision of the video in my head and buying a new check valve with its shutter, in hand. My son and I came up with 3 different ways to destroy this loose sutter from the inside of the house only 12' away and working blind. Amongst the designs were a 12ft bore to drill holes into the floating shutter and eventually destroying it, A 12ft chisel that could crack it and destroy it, and a grabbing device that would crack it in half. We managed to push the shutter against the outward port of the housing and hold it in place then slam the make shift chisel that had a pipe for a handle. with a large hammer. We managed to push it into the 4' line out of its housing but viewing with a flashlight this is very bad because now if we cannot push this oversized shutter all the way into the main line this would have to remain inside as a partial clog forever or we would have to punt and dig up the entire outside line now and replace it. So then we devised a small rake to climb over it and with 3/4" pipe as our handle pull it back into the basement through the open pipe. THIS WORKED! Because the original chisel blow cracked a small piece off of the outer diameter so what we did not know was, that we most likely could have just flushed it passively into the main line because of its now smaller size. But actually retrieving it and keeping it knowing how much of a problem it was seemed more rewarding. Now the new check valve that I purchased can be installed inside the basement on the frontside of the clean out port so never again can a snake knock it off of its hinge. If it does become dislodged there is a nice cap that can be removed to align it back onto its hinge in the comfort of my own basement. If any home owner did not know of a check valve being installed which by local law, you now have to, in new installs then you are at the mercy for contractors to do the same thing and then the same contractor or another digging outside and replacing with a new one. Unless they are smart enough to put it inside the next time. By the way after weeks of troubleshooting and statigizing the solution only cost $25. for a new check valve and took only 2 hours to perform the magic.
 
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Joined
May 27, 2017
Messages
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Reaction score
1
Location
rockland, ny
What I did not mention in the above article was that 3 times in a period of a month after I realized that when the original contractor warrantee had run out, was that every time I opened the clean out, there were many gallons of sewage going all the way up to the second level fixtures that would fly out of the port at a great pressure and flood the basement and myself. So in the many weeks it took in planning the remedy as a DIY-er. I devised a clean out manifold that had a valve so without taking the cap off I could simply purge the flow into a 55 gallon barrel. Then take the device off and access the clean out hole with a snake or camera etc.

Sometimes it is painful to DIY but that pain subsides when you can keep thousands of dollars in your pocket, so using your head instead of your wallet?
rdm
 
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