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Thread: Need help finding sewer lateral

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    Default Need help finding sewer lateral

    Hey guys

    Need some advice. I have a contractor that has a plugged sewer lateral and as a favor I tried to locate his snake he ran down the plugged line with no luck. I tried several grounding options as well. When that failed the contractor borrowed a camera that he ran down the lateral that transmits on 512 for locating. I could pick up what I believe to be the sonde/camera and could even follow it as they ran it further. Problem is we hit a spot where it seems to be plugged. Of course this spot is directly under a garage. We found the main sewer line and put the camera in it and ran it 100ft each way of the house and cannot find where the lateral ties in.

    Anyone have any ideas on what else to try to pinpoint this lateral. The city has no records of this property. The contractor has even tried digging a trench the entire width of the property to find the lateral with no luck. The sewer main is only appx 2.5-3ft deep and the exploritory trench the contractor dug was appx 5ft deep all the way across and he never came across the lateral.

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    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    Sounds like you've tried all the right steps, and are only lacking trying a GPR unit. The other solution is to have Roto-Rooter come out and clear the blockage, and try again with both the snaking and/or the sonde locating. Good luck.
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    Senior Member headcipher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    I wouldn't call "roto-rooter", they seriously charge way too much. Their sub's that do clean outs and line replacement charge from double to quadruple what other plumbers/excavators charge(at least in my city they do). But it does sound like a call to the plumber is in order.
    Just because there is a main in front of the lot doesn't mean that that is where the line taps. I've seen services run for over a block before tapping. If you can contact the wastewater companies records dept they may be able to get you the last camera report on the main which should have measurements on each lateral, or even an as-built. I've found as-builts from the 20's in records that someone told me "didn't exist."

    Hope you find it.

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    Senior Member 1idejim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    you evidently know the depth of the main which is either in the street or the alley, this lends a clue to the approximate depth of the lateral at or near the PL.

    a -2.5 to -3.0 lat may dive at 22.5 to 45 degrees at or near the PL for connection but i have seen the vertical curve angle point as far back as 50' from the PL.

    if you are tracing the cam then you can locate a straight section of 5 or 10' that should give you a reference point for the bend angle. this would allow you to guess pretty accurately where the lat should be. most installers try to maintain a maximum of 180 degrees if at all possible. i believe 270 is max code but i am not 100% sure without checking.

    may sound funny but an irrigation locator with a 521 or pro 6 -7 or 800 valve locator can pick up a solenoid taped to a fish tape at -8' easily.

    dowsing may help also.
    You Can't Fix It Till You Find It - Jim 3:23

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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    just a thought but is it possible that there is a drain in the garage and that the pipe you are tracing is the drain for the garage and not the main svc line to the house? my neighbor had a secondary svc going to his garage that tied into his main svc line further out in his yard. anyway, if it was me and i was trying to help him out, i would witch all the way around the perimeter of the home about 2-3' away from the structure and probe/pothole every turn the witching rod gave me. good luck and tell us how you find it if it gets found!
    "You can never trust AT&T to do the intelligent thing..." - SM&P Lead Tech

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    Senior Member UULC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    If you are looking for the lateral from the house to the city/county wastewater main, as a general rule look on the roof for the 3" sewer vent. There should only be one. the others should be smaller 2-1/2 or 2". The 3" vent should be in the area of the master bathroom. The vent will be off the sewer lateral. The lateral should be in direct direction either to the front, back or side of the home. What I mean is find the vent and straight out, not at an angle the line should exit the foundation. At this the point I would look.

    You said they have dug a trench 5' deep around the home and did not find it? I have never seen a rough in plumbing buried that deep. Rough in plumbing of a home is only about 12" to 18" deep. I have never seen a sewer lateral exiting a home deeper then 18" deep.

    This is only in the south. In the northern states I could not tell you. I did a short stint as a plumbing inspector for a city in Florida. So I am speaking about Florida.
    Last edited by UULC; February 24th, 2012 at 08:31 AM. Reason: Spelling

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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    Thanks for the help. Still haven't found it. I will keep you posted.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    Hey noOT,

    First things first.... there is no standards when it comes to utility placements. There is only how things are typically ran and how things actually run. Sometimes they match up, sometimes they don't. Is the Blockage just material or is there still liquid squeezing past? if there is liquid getting pass I would drop some dye down the line and pinpoint in the main where she's flowing into. If you can narrow down which main she's tying into you have a better chance of guessing where she's at.

    I did sewer inspection and locates for about 3 years and ran accross all types of alignments that didn't make sense. I had one double back on itself and head the opposite direction. I also had one similar to what you are dealt. The line was blocked. I tried locating the snake and couldn't get a bead on its position. I was able to get my camera down the line and locate the sonde which didn't run out to the street in front but through the neighbors yard, under his house, through the field to the side street a few hundred feet away. I couldn't push the camera that far, but we were able to pin point the service with the dye test.

    For those hard to get lines I have secured a sonde onto the hose of a jet -X head on one of the plumbers pressure washers that clean the line and located the hose as they cleaned out the line.

    Good Luck

    Mke

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    Here is a thought.

    Instead of trying to send a signal onto the line itself or of a sonde / snake send down the line try this.

    Push down the line a fish tape, one of the thick heavy duty non-metallic ones comes to mind.

    Attach to the tape an insulated wire. Do not tape the end of the wire to the fish tape, tape the middle of the wire so now you have two ends of the same wire coming back into the house. Push the tape until it stops either at the main or the blockage. Hook up your transmitter to the two ends of the wire and you should produce a very strong signal.

    Of course there is the problem of this taking you to back under the garage again if you weren't chasing a ghost signal in the first place. (I had a ghost signal a few months ago that was quite strong, watched a backhoe dig up the area down to twenty feet with nothing but dirt.)

    "If it is under the garage you friend has two choices; dig up the floor of the garage and repair the line or power snake the line and hope that will last a few years before you have to do that again.

    A relative of mine had a similar problem, blocked main drain. They thought it ran out the front to the street, nope. They rented a power snake with a cutting head attachment and they could here it thumping from a tree whose roots had grown into the drain. Turns out it went out the side of the house to an ally. Paying to have a large tree removed was not something they wanted to do. So a year later the problem has yet to return. It will one day but a quick power snake rental will take care of it until the next time. Who knows how long they can get away doing this rather than removing that tree. Who knows how long it will be until your friend has do dig up that garage floor.

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    Senior Member UULC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    PL, excellent idea!

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    The non-metallic fish tape is called a Rodder and is quite pricey. It will do the job as long as the taping of the tracer wire is sufficient. If there is no head on the rodder you may be able to push through the blockage depending its density. Roots tend to be a pain in the arse.

    Good luck.

    Mke

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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    Hey Pro lo have you relative check with your local hardware store, but if I remember right a product called copper sulfate will take care of the roots in a sewer pipe for maintaining the root problem

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    Default Re: Need help finding sewer lateral

    Found it. Like always, trust your equipment. I was very hesitant in believing the signal I was tracking off of the sonde because it ran in such a bizarre manner. When we found the bad spot we busted open the pipe and drained it so we could see through the camera. There were not one or two, but five 90's in the pipe from the house to the point of blockage. Keep in mind that taking the shortest path from the toilet to the blockage was appx 30 ft. We had 120 feet of cable in the pipe from the toilet to the blockage.

    I left before they stuck the camera in the other direction to see where the lateral actually went to.

    Thanks again guys.

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