Sometimes sewer line problems won’t go away, or only go away for a while. 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 Mateo County, in South San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Pacifica, Redwood City, Half Moon Bay, San Mateo, San Bruno, or Daly City. 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.
Observing any of these symptoms may mean you need a sewer line repair or sewer line replacement. The role of the sewer line is to carry waste from your house and connect to the public sewer system. As a homeowner, you may be unpleasantly surprised to discover that you are the one responsible for the sewer line from the house to where it connects with the public system. Typically the public system hook-up is located where the sidewalk abuts 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.
A sewer line does not last indefinitely. Like everything else in your house, the sewer line has a life span that makes periodic replacement necessary. Sewer pipes made from clay or similar vitreous material often deteriorate quickly and were often used in older homes.
But other forces are at play, too. When the earth freezes and thaws, it 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 am I Having with my San Mateo County Sewer Line?
If you think the issue has gone beyond a little clog, it’s time to bring in the expertise of a specialist. A sewer line contractor or a plumber who takes care of sewer lines can repair or replace your sewer line. It’s important that your sewer line contractor first identify the problem. The company should have a camera that can be used to view the interior of the sewer line and locate the problem exactly. Your sewer line contractor may need to jet the pipe to clean it first before using the camera. Jetting means cleaning the pipe with high-pressure water hoses. The camera should be used so that the contractor is not guessing about the problem.
You may be able to find a sewer cleanout around your house. You many have more than one of them. A cleanout comes in very handy when you need to work on your sewer line. Cleanouts are capped, or lidded, pipes that give workers access to the sewer line. You can look for the cleanout in your yard, particularly along the walls near where the bathrooms are sited. A few houses have the cleanouts inside, perhaps behind the toilet, though this is not a common situation. If 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 incur more expense than using a cleanout.
If you are lucky, you may be able to limit the project to a sewer line repair. On the other hand, you may have to step up for a complete sewer line replacement. In many cases, if the problem is localized, it may be possible for the sewer line contractor to patch the pipe. Patching consists of replacing the damaged area of the pipe with a new length of pipe. In some cases, a patch makes sense. Keep in mind, though, if it seems as if 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 Mateo County Sewer Line Contractor Fix my Problem?
You may feel dread descend on you as you contemplate a. sewer line repair or sewer line replacement. 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.
To replace a sewer line without massive, invasion trenches, a CIPP, or cured-in-place-piping, technique can be used. Called a trenchless sewer repair, the process begins with a hydro-jetting step, in which highly pressurized water is used to clean out the pipe. A machine then feeds a PVC-soaked liner down the pipe. Once the liner is in place, a bladder is sent down to plump out the liner while steam molds the PVC liner to the existing pipe’s interior walls. After the liner cures, the bladder is removed. The new liner now forms a strong pipe that will resist cracking, roots, and other stresses. It’s possible that the CIPP process can be performed without any excavation in some cases, by 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.
You might also want to consider the pipe bursting trenchless repair technique. In the pipe bursting method, a hole is dug at the start of the sewer line and another hole dug at the end of the sewer line. The bursting head is placed in the ground via one of the holes. The bursting head is a mechanism that will break apart the existing pipe in the ground. As the bursting head moves forward, it breaks up the pipe in front of it, and it drags a new pipe along behind it. The new pipe is laid along 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 Do I Need to Consider for my San Mateo County Sewer Line Repair?
You need a contractor with enough experience to recommend a trenched or trenchless approach. In addition, the contractor you pick must be 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 carry a bond.
No matter where you live in San Mateo County, whether in South San Francisco, Daly City, San Mateo, El Granada, San Bruno, Redwood City, East Palo Alto, or Menlo Park, 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.
A licensed contractor and proper permits are two of the basic requirements. If you want an enduring and code-compliant repair, you also need to be sure the proper materials are being using. Most localities have codes that mandate the types of materials put in place. Specific kinds of pipes are banned for use as a sewer line. For example, many places do not allow clay pipes because they break easily. In other cases, certain types of plastic are not allowed. Your sewer line contractor should be able to knowledgably discuss the kind of pipe being used and its conformance with your local codes.
Costs will go up if you run into certain problems. Some of these include trees that have to be removed with the stumps ground out, when those trees are interfering with access to your sewer line. Obviously, this removal will add to the cost of the sewer line replacement or repair. In most cases, the gas and clean water lines should be installed 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, the workers have to be much more careful and costs could rise. Another issue that can affect the cost is how far away the public sewer hook-up is. If it is far from your property line, you may end up digging into the road to reach it, which will increase costs.
Sometimes when a tree or shrub has roots that are causing problems with the sewer line, the sewer line contractor will tell you that he or she can still save the trees so they survive the sewer line repair or replacement. If the trees or shrubs caused the problem with their roots, at least some of the roots must be removed, since the pipe they are infesting will be replaced. Be sure to take the time to ask your sewer line contractor closely about how he or she thinks it is possible to spare 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 Mateo County Septic Tanks and Sewer Conversions
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Sometimes, your house was built before a hook-up to the city sewer system was possible, and you use a septic tank. In the septic system, the wastewater is piped out of the house and sent to a tank for storage. The tank must be occasionally drained, at the homeowner’s expense, 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 maintaining a septic tank. If you need to convert from a septic system to the public sewer system, a sewer line contractor can help.