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Freakish Plumbing Problem

jim lockard
jim lockard Member Posts: 1,059
in my mind would be a part of the cost of the job Mike. You may want to contact your insurance company just to let them know whats happening there. Best Wishes J.Lockard


  • For the last few weeks my old store building (retail down, bar up) had nasty sewer backups on busy nights. Never anything like this before.

    Mechanical and chemical drain cleaning did nothing or brought up a few tampons.

    No trees have EVER been anywhere near. I thought, "Sewer collapse."

    Good plumbing firm came, snaked again, and used a RF sensor to map the drain. Added a cleanout in the parking lot so they could snake further. When they dug, stinking water immediately filled the hole. I said, "collapse" they said, "Just back pressure--no way it collapsed.". 6" drain serves 4 toilets, 1 "real" sink and six lav/hand sinks.

    Plumbers found excessive sewage standing in a manhole--suspected a city problem. Today they dug a nice, big hole.

    Telephone company had literally run one of their underground lines straight through my sewer line!

    Telephone company will pay for all expenses and said, "Send an itemized statement."

    Entire event certainly didn't help the two-year-old carpet downstairs, but it's not truly ruined as we sucked up the crap regularly.

    Would it be improper to include $300-$400 for cleaning expenses?

  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177
    utility damage

    absolutely include ALL expenses incurred. telephone co. broke my water service last year but i could not prove it so got zero compensation. since they have admitted fault you are in a good bargaining position. get every penny you are entitled to.
  • mp1969
    mp1969 Member Posts: 226

    Did you have any loss of income or potential patron loss?
    This is truly a man made problem that caused you a great deal of lossed time etc.
    I would be very fair,yet remember to be fair to yourself!This sounds like you may want an insurance loss specialist to consult you in order to be very thorough. The cost of this third party consultant should also be passed on to the telephone company.
    Trust me if you were to dig up or damage one of their lines you would be billed for the complete cost it takes to repair the line ( some times even the loss of revenue is sought in their claims.)
    Good luck this sounds like a real mess.

    R. Kontny
  • I once pulled out a wet Rastafarian from a Bld. sewer but,,

    never heard of the phone or electric company tapping into/through a drainpipe. WOW!

    Send the bill for the carpet cleaning and replacement. After all they are the ones responsible for the whole event. I'd also let your liability Ins. Co know what happened and make sure they know what has transpired. Better safe than liable. just my .02
  • bigugh_4
    bigugh_4 Member Posts: 406
    not freakish at all.

    How about a power company setting a pole right on center of the sewer line. tough to clean thru 12 inches of treated wood! They coughed up the repair and re-route of the sewer.
  • Wasn't surprised!

    I wasn't surprised by the incident that Mike T. had at his store. With more services being added to right aways and boring equipment being used more frequently, this happens a lot now. I have seen and have been involved with several this year. All were caused by contractors working for utility companies. In all of the cases, the utilitie's insurance companies made good on all of the damages once it was established that they were at fault. In one case, the home owners were put up in a hotel until their sewer was repaired and their home cleaned up.
    If an incident occurs, it is a good idea to document everything. Take lots of photos! As other writers have mentioned, notify your insurance company. Even though you are not filing a claim with them, with them involved it makes the utilitie's insurance company more apt to settle quickly.
    As for your damages, not only the obvious things such as the pipe repair, excavation, clean-up, keep in mind future damages as well. Sure, your carpet could be cleaned, but what about the padding underneath? After all, this is raw sewage! Who knows what will start growing underneath. All flooded carpeting and padding should be disposed of and the floor surface disinfected prior to replacement. Likewise, any wall board that was affected as well. Because of the dangers of mold, this is starting to become common practice, even if the flooding is from a potable water source.
    As contractors, seeing these incidents, and how much money is paid out on damages, should make us more cautious in our work. We don't want to be on the "paying out" end of an incident like this! The most important precaution is before any excavation or boring projects begin, that we notify the "One-call" systems in our areas. They are the first step in getting valuable information as to what may be in the ground. In most areas, it's the law that they be notified several business days before the work begins. If thay aren't notified and an incident occurs, the contractor will not only be liable for repairs and damages, but you will also be fined. Further, the contractor's insurance company may not have to pay for damages if you didn't notify One-call. While working, keep your eyes open. Use common sense. Most of all be careful, and stay safe!
  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317
    Quite common

    As one of the posts suggested the culprit is usually a directional drilling crew hired as a sub by the utility. Your fortunate the blockage wasn't a gas line. Almost every year here a gas line shot through a sewer is cut by a roto rooter guy. The city runs a camera through their larger sewers before cleaning and sure enough sometimes there's a yellow "tree root" going through the middle of it. The utility won't pay for this, the contractor will, so that's why the phone co. was so reasonable. Certainly charge all your time and all materials, which is what the utility would do. Just the cost of doing business. Any carpet that had sewer stuff near it should be replaced. As mentioned before, underground is getting crowded. One of the pluses of the telecom collaspe is the lessening of directional drilling, because anybody who wanted to compete had to be allowed to lay fiber. It cheaper than open cut in some applications so it won't go away however.
  • Thanks for Replies & Advice Gentlemen

    Will contact insurance and definitely include reasonable cleanup-fees.

    Fortunately it's a bar upstairs and there was only one "solid" event that stayed pretty well confined to the downstairs tiled bathroom. Vast majority was rather diluted #1 and grey water.

    Will check to see if glued down carpet must be replaced--nasty job as it involves moving all of the merchandise.
  • mp1969
    mp1969 Member Posts: 226
    Underground Infrastructure

    You gentlemen are right the ever expanding underground infrastructure is growing at a constant rate. The mere prescense is scary enough, the condition of some of these utilities is down right frightening!

    R. Kontny
This discussion has been closed.