The drought here in upstate South Carolina may be over, but this year home and business owners will begin seeing more effects from it — primarily clogged sewer pipes. Tree roots that didn’t get enough rain over the last couple of years went anywhere they could to find moisture. And oftentimes, that meant breaking into the nearest sewer line.
I’m a member of Nexstar®, a best practices organization in the plumbing industry and my colleagues across our region agree that roots are causing major trouble in our sewer lines. Because so many homes in this area were built decades ago, their aging, deteriorating sewer pipes have fallen victim to thirsty tree roots.
One recent example is Pete Byford’s home in the North Main area of Greenville. He and his family knew they had a problem because whenever they turned on their faucets, their basement toilets started bubbling. “We didn’t need an exorcist,” Byford said, “but we knew we needed a really good plumber.”
Through the use of our underground cameras, we found tree roots were clogging Byford’s sewers pipes, but that wasn’t the biggest problem. Root damage had collapsed his old Terra Cotta sewer pipe 225 feet away and it was leaking raw sewage into his neighbor’s yard. Byford started to cringe and the job took on new urgency.
Pete Byford thought replacing hundreds of feet of pipe meant tearing up his yard, his neighbor’s yard, plus their landscaping and driveways. But after we carefully reviewed all his options, Pete chose “trenchless,” a new pipe-bursting technology that lets us replace multiple feet of sewer lines by just digging a couple small access holes. It’s faster and cheaper and much less destructive.
Traditional trenching used to be the only solution for replacing sewer pipe and that’s why people avoided it. After all, who wants to lose thousands of dollars of landscaping and majestic trees? But that doesn’t have to happen anymore — thanks to trenchless bursting technology.
We dug one or two access holes and run a wire rope lead through the old pipe. We attached a splitter head or bullet to one end then the new plastic pipe attaches to the splitter head. We pulled the new pipe through on the other end and split the old one. This process maintains the same or one size larger diameter as the old pipe. The new polyurethane pipe is guaranteed to last as long as you own the home.
In Byford’s case, once we went down under, the situation changed and required more work than our original bid allowed. But that shouldn’t be the owner’s responsibility. Any reputable plumbing company should stand by their upfront pricing and that’s exactly what we did, at no additional cost to him. Byford also appreciated not having to deal with all the necessary city permits. The plumbing company should take care of that, too.
Did your mother ever tell you to leave things the way you found them?” Mine did. So, each evening we left the plumbing in a state where they still could flush the toilets and run the water. Byford said, “That’s important when you have to cook dinner and bathe the kids.”
Carol Campbell also lives in Greenville’s North Main area. She’s single and admits she doesn’t know a lot about home maintenance. Here’s a case where I recommend that the homeowner sign up for a service plan. In addition to discounts on repair and getting priority service for routine and emergency calls, this type of plan usually includes annual safety inspections of your plumbing and electrical services. I believe in preventative measures to safeguard your home, so you catch small problems before they become big ones.
During one of our yearly inspections, we found that Ms. Campbell, too, had root growth in her main sewer line. It came from a huge 80-year-old oak tree in her front yard. Ms. Campbell didn’t want to lose the tree or the $10,000 of new landscaping she’d recently put in, so when we reviewed all her options, she knew trenchless pipe bursting was the way to go. Carol is happy to report, “My new pipes are in place and so is my tree.”
As a home service provider, our greatest compliment comes from satisfied customers who trust our skill and our reputation for good customer service and ethical behavior. When selecting a plumber, homeowners should accept nothing less.
Chris Corley is owner of Corley Plumbing Air Electric in Greenville, South Carolina, home comfort specialists offering the latest technology and courteous, reliable service. For more information go to www.corleypro.com or call 864/517-1251.