Today I replace my water main

So, for the 5th plus time our sewer water main clogged up, and even after using an auger it’s still clogged, so thinking the main fell apart down there. (Cast iron)Time to replace in this rainy weather! (Losing two days of work, don’t want to lose another tomorrow.) Rented a mini excavator. Need to dig about 80 ft of line, but thankfully it’s only about 2.5 feet down, and hey, I can install a 2 way clean out, so plus there! Pics to follow.

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You likely have already tried this, but a hydro jetter might be able to fix what the auger couldn’t. If your plumber isn’t doing a thorough job then he’ll just poke a hole in the clog, so water can flow again. That small hole will clog back up again really quickly. A jetter will blast the clog out and clean the inside of the pipe too.

Should get a camera down there too to see if you can see exactly what’s wrong before doing a big dig. If you don’t have a plumber in your area with a jetter, then send them my way and I can get them hooked up lol I hope you can get it sorted and best of luck with the replacement if that becomes necessary!

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@FatFIRE what rainy weather? :rowing_man: :sweat_drops: I cannot wait for it to go away!

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Be careful! Many states (most?) require a permit to be pulled for sewer line work, including simply adding a cleanout. The work must also be tested and inspected before filling it back in.

did they stick a camera down there? IF they don’t have a camera I would have called someone else. Brother owns a plumbing business, learned a few things from him. A camera can save thousands of dollars.


This is always fun. I’ve had to do an entire block before. The difference was it had to be from the main to 8’ from the foundation and was anywhere from 6’-14’ deep. Good times.

Now that would be horrible! That deep can be dangerous. I think I would have paid for that one.

No kidding. Honestly though it was a blessing in disguise as the ground was much easier to work with.

I ran the auger myself, I didn’t pay someone, and I ran it about 65 feet which is further than I’ve ever needed to. It was right before the cleanout, but the pipe had collapsed in multiple places I think. Part of it was pvc patchwork, part was cast iron, and part was this crappy fiber stuff. Multiple places at roots growing in it.

@Jake_Lambert I didn’t read your post till when the trench was halfway done, and while I should have thought of getting one, I don’t regret doing it for this particular project. I and my wife hadn’t been able to use the restroom or do all the normal things that require a drain for 3 days, and about 2 months ago we went almost 2 weeks that way while I tried incremental ways that used to work. I think it had just gotten so bad that it had to be replaced. We followed most of the old slope by running it parallelto the old pipe, except for where it first comes out of my house there was actually no slope so we added one of about 1/8 per ft. I took some good pictures so hopefully no one cares about it.

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This probably got torn up by the excavator, but I don’t doubt it had issues elsewhere. Apparently the previous owner had already had these issues for years, so they weren’t going to stop. So glad it’s almost done! Now all I have to do is fill in the rest of the hole and even out the ground.


I hope you solved your problems and can use your indoor plumbing again like you should be able to. In my area the trench would have been way deeper, glad you didn’t have to go several feet into the ground. I had a cold snap a few years ago (-negative 15 to 20 for a week) and my vent pipe heaved. I had a fun time digging it all out by hand. The pipe heaved enough and let some of the backfill (gravel) go into the pipe and it backed the sewer up to the house. I had to suck the pipe out to clean out the gravel. I worked on it until 0300, couldn’t get it to run free and clear, so I called a plumber(plumber brother is 4.5 hours away). Guys show up about 0930, we go out to take a look and they said what’s the issue? It was clean and clear in the morning, apparently it loosened up the last 20 feet and cleared out into the main. They still charged me a service call. So, in my best Bill Clinton impersonation, I feel your pain.

They advised I run every single water source in the house down the drain for a couple of minutes to make sure there were no problems. Both showers, all sinks, flush all the toilets at once, even stuck a garden hose into the line, if it takes that and no backup you have no issues…

I’m not questioning you but more curious, you didn’t install another cleanout or vent closer up the line? I can’t remember the code up here but I think every 20 feet requires a vent or cleanout. I’m no plumber.

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That sounds like a bear that you had to deal with! Our frost line is 4 inches (I Google it to make sure as I thought it would be at least a foot.) Most of it is a 2+ feet down, except for right where it meets the house, but I would have to dig into the foundation to change that. I have the one clean out near the street, and then one right before it leaves my house to the outside. I could be wrong, but I’ve never seen that many cleanouts around here, and when I called a plumber a few months ago they only mentioned installing one. You might have that because yours are deeper and your ground freezes so I could imagine it’s easier to run a line through a cleanout than digging up frozen ground!

It’s 100’ for IPC, but I agree with you. A 2-way cleanout up by the building at the first bend would be ideal. This whole project made the hair on my arms stand up but it looks like he did a good job. Glad it’s all working again @FatFIRE

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@Jake_Lambert Sorry to have stressed you! Its probably like when we hear someone bought a machine thinking they could do it themselves, but then destroy their property. I’m sure you’ve heard some stories. Glad to have your opinion that it looks like we did a good job! My Dad was an engineer at thr space center and tends to overbuild things by a lot, so he had a some good tips, though honestly having the old pipe to follow made it much easier. It should work much better for a long time now that the pipes are a mix up of different levels of degrading mess.

Now the next big project is enclosing our back porch, which I will have to pull a permit for.

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Nice! You did great, hope you didn’t take offense to me saying that. I’ve seen things go very, very wrong for people attempting the same. A guy last fall cut a natural gas line and the city charged him $5k for not getting a locate done first, easy mistake to make. But I’m glad your house is flowing again and you didn’t end up shelling out thousands for a plumbing company!

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I didn’t take offense.

The natural gas line was my biggest concern. We lost a good few hours tracing it by hand, so having it marked would have been very nice. In the end though it was close to the sewer main near the house, so I’m really glad we did find it by hand so we knew which side to dig on. It was pvc too a few feet from the meter, so one wrong move could have gone very wrong, but then that’s a lot of things in life. When people talk to me about risk, I’m always amazed that they don’t have a panic attack every time they get in their car because of how dangerous cars are. (The car thing isn’t directed at you btw) At least the the gas line doesn’t move when your near it!

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I’m guessing that you have experience running a miniex, that line was too straight and clean in wet ground for a novice. Glad you solved your issue and saved quite a few dollars.

What do you backfill with in your area? We use gravel and fabric near the pipe (or just gravel) then fill the remaining footage in with whatever came out of the ground which is normally rock, shale, clay, etc. My area has hardly any topsoil.

Well, I filled it in with what came out of the ground. (Still working on filling it in, have about half done) is that a bad idea? I didn’t even think about something different.

First time running a mini ex, but we had the old line to follow and my dad kept pointing out to dig more here or scrape some off the side, so it went much quicker with his help. I guess video games can be helpful for something. :rofl: I did take it really slow, and didn’t feel like it was getting intuitive till near the end. (2.5 hours) still it was amazing to use. I would have given up if I had to dig it by hand or even with a trencher. The wet actually made it better I think because I think the mini ex was able to take out bigger chunks. The ground was wet enough to be much softer, but not so wet that it made the trench unstable.

Slow isn’t bad. Pictures made it look muddy. in my area, because we go several feet deep (3’ minimum), wet is bad because it can make the sides cave in. you wind up with a 3’ wide trench. My sewer main is about 8-9’ down. I have done a bunch of excavating with my tractor, but I hire the guy down the road for his mini ex, much cheaper than buying subrails and a backhoe for my tractor (then putting it on and off).

Backfill I guess depends on your area, and your code. I know I had several triaxles of gravel delivered for water, sewer, foundation, concrete base, driveway, french drain, etc. Used a buttload in the trenches for water, sewer, electric, and cable. I ran my electric underground too so I didn’t have a line and multiples poles in my yard. I used to know a lot of the codes, but I forget the ones I rarely use. I rarely do any sewer work, unless it is at my house or I travel to NJ and my brother ropes me into helping for the day or weekend (bastage got me filthy about 2 visits ago).

I was curious, I’ve never dug a trench without backfilling with gravel then topping off with whatever came out of the ground. I learn a lot on this forum by asking questions or positing something and getting other feedback.