Your deepest fears are telling you it’s not going to be a minor fix. It’s going to be a major deal. Now you have to call in a plumber or a sewer line contractor to take a look what’s happening. It’s most likely going to be expensive. And it’s just not your favorite thing to deal with. No matter where you live in San Francisco, handling sewer line problems is no fun.
So, what do you do when you need to hire a local sewer line repair company?
San Francisco Sewer Line Contractors Can Help You
You hope that against the evidence, you’re just having a minor plumbing hiccup. You have a clogged drain or blocked toilet. You can pour something down the drain to dissolve the clog, or plunge the toilet to clear the blockage. But sometimes, the problems won’t go away, or only go away temporarily. Your toilet continues to block up time and again. You have wastewater coming up into the tub. You smell sewer smells in your yard or home in San Francisco. You may even see toilet paper littering the yard. Any of these is an indication that you need the help of a sewer line contractor.
A sewer line repair or sewer line replacement may be looming if you have any of these symptoms. The sewer line carries waste from your house and connects to the public sewer system. It may come as an unwelcome surprise to you as a homeowner, but you are the one responsible for the sewer line from the house to where it connects with the public system. Usually the hook-up to the public system is located where the sidewalk runs up against the property line. If you determine that you do have a sewer line issue, and it affects more than a small segment of the line, it makes sense to get in touch with your local authority to see where the city takes over responsibility for the pipe. You may need to coordinate with the city so that you fix only the segment of the sewer line that you are responsible for. You want to save yourself both the cost and the liability of working on more of the sewer line than you are responsible for.
Sewer lines do not last forever. Like everything in your house, the sewer line has a life span and will need periodic replacement. Sewer pipes made from clay or similar vitreous material tend to be especially likely to degrade. But other forces are at play, too. The earth’s freezing and thawing can affect the pipes in the ground, causing them to shift or to sag. The sagging, or bellying, occurs when earth is pushed out from underneath the pipes. At times, pipes have been poorly installed and are offset – they don’t lie straight, so it’s easier for blockages to form. Trees and shrubs are constantly on the reach for water, and their roots can penetrate the pipes. Even very fine roots can make it more likely that blockages form, wreaking havoc with your sewer line. Dumping lots of grease down a drain over time can also cause blockages to form. These are some of the causes of sewer line damage, in addition to age.
How Big a Problem is my Sewer Line Issue in San Francisco?
When you think the issue lies with your sewer line, it’s time to bring in an expert. A sewer line contractor or a plumber who takes care of sewer lines will be able to repair or replace your sewer line. Your sewer line contractor should first identify the problem. The company should have a camera that can be used to view the interior of the sewer line and locate exactly where the problem is. At times, your sewer line contractor may need to jet the pipe to clean it first before using the camera. Jetting refers to cleaning the pipe with high-pressure water hoses. The camera should be used so that the contractor is not guessing about the problem.
If you’re lucky or in a more modern house, you will have sewer cleanouts. You many have several of them. They come in very handy when you need to work on your sewer line. A cleanout is a capped, or lidded, pipe that gives workers access to the sewer line. You can look for the cleanout in your yard, particularly along the walls near where the bathrooms are located. A small number of houses have the cleanouts inside, perhaps behind the toilet, though this is not often the case. When you don’t have a cleanout, the sewer line contractor will have to get at the sewer line through an interior fixture, such as a toilet, or through a roof vent. These latter methods are more expensive than using a cleanout.
In some cases, the damage is not so severe, and you only need a sewer line repair. On the other hand, you may be in for a complete sewer line replacement. Broadly speaking, if the problem is located in a specific area, it may be possible for the sewer line contractor to patch the pipe. The patch consists of replacing the damaged area of the pipe with a new piece of pipe. In some cases, a patch makes perfect sense. Keep in mind, however, if it seems as though you will have to keep patching the sewer line, that effort can be as expensive as or more expensive than replacing the entire sewer line, since you have to keep opening up and closing the access every time you have a patch applied. The decision to patch or replace really depends on the severity of the damage; your sewer line contractor should be able to assess and offer recommendations.
How Will my San Francisco Sewer Line Be Fixed?
The thought of a sewer line repair or sewer line replacement fills many a homeowner with dread. You probably imagine your yard or driveway being torn up, with trenches all over the place, and a project that goes on and on. In some cases, the repair may require a trench. But fortunately, there are also other methods that your sewer line contractor may be able to use.
With a CIPP, or cured-in-place-piping, your sewer line contractor can replace a sewer line without massive trenching. Called a trenchless sewer repair, the process begins with a hydro-jetting, where highly pressurized water is used to clear the pipe. A machine then feeds a PVC-soaked liner down the pipe. Once the liner has been put in place, a bladder is sent down to fill out the liner while steam molds the PVC liner to the existing pipe’s walls. Once the liner cures, the bladder is removed. The new liner forms a strong pipe that resists cracking, roots, and other stresses. It’s possible that the CIPP process can be performed without any excavation in some cases, using access from cleanouts or from manholes in the street. In other cases, some excavation may be employed, but it is significantly less than the full-trench approach.
Pipe bursting is another trenchless repair technique for you to consider. In the pipe bursting approach, a hole is needed at the start and another hole at the end of the sewer line. The bursting head is inserted. The bursting head is a device that will break apart the existing pipe in the ground. As the bursting head moves forward breaking up the pipe before it, it drags a new pipe along behind it. The new pipe is laid in the same path as the pipe being burst apart. In most cases, the old pipe that was burst apart is left in the ground.
What Else Could Influence my San Francisco Sewer Line Repair?
You will need to find experienced sewer line contractors or plumbers with the proper equipment to help advise you on using a trench or trenchless techniques. Be sure that the contractor you pick is a licensed sewer line contractor or plumber. It doesn’t matter whether the company advertises specifically as sewer line contractors or as plumbers who specialize in sewer lines. In either case, the company must have a California contractor’s license and display that number in its advertising. The plumber’s license is called a C36, and the sanitation system contractor’s license is called a C42. Licensed contractors are tested by the state and must be bonded. No matter where you live in San Francisco, ask your contractor about permits. Most cities or counties require permits for sewer line work. Your contractor should be able to help you with the process of getting the permit.
Not only do you need to find a licensed contractor to work with, you also need to be sure the proper permits are lined up. And you need to be sure the proper materials are being used to ensure a long-lasting and code-compliant repair. Most areas have codes that mandate the types of materials allowed. Specific kinds of pipes may be banned for use as a sewer line – many places do not allow clay pipes because they break easily, for example. In other cases, certain types of plastic are not allowed. Your sewer line contractor should be able to knowledgeably discuss with you the kind of pipe being used and its conformance with your local codes.
If you have the misfortune to encounter certain circumstances, your costs can increase dramatically. On occasion, trees have to be removed and the stumps ground out, if the trees are interfering with access to your sewer line. Obviously, this will add to the cost of the sewer line replacement or repair. In most cases, the gas and clean water lines should be placed well away from your sewer line. If you have the unfortunate instance of an older home or home not built to code where the gas lines are close to the sewer line, you may well incur extra costs since the workers have to be much more careful. Another thing that can affect the cost is how far away the hook-up to the public sewer system is. If it is far from your property line, you may end up digging into the road to reach it, which will increase costs.
Your sewer line contractor may tell you that you may be able to salvage a tree or shrub, even if that plant is the cause of the sewer line problem. If the trees or shrubs are causing the problem with their roots, at least some of the roots will have to be removed, since the pipe they are infesting will be removed. Be sure to take the time to question your sewer line contractor closely about how he or she thinks it is possible to save the trees or shrubs. Also ask about the possibility of future root intrusion, if you do want to save the trees or shrubs, since they will still be living close to the pipes.
San Francisco Septic Tanks and Sewer Conversions
Read moreRead less
Septic systems are sometimes used in place of a hook-up with a city sewer system. With a septic system, the sewage is piped out of the house and directed to a tank for storage. The tank must be occasionally drained, at the homeowner’s cost, so that it can be refilled. Sometimes, a city or other local government mandates that users to move to a sewer system from a septic system. Or the homeowner may decide to make the switch once the city sewer is available, since the public sewer system can be more convenient than emptying a septic tank. If you need to convert from a septic system to the public sewer system, a sewer line contractor can help.