Further Adventures in Home Maintenance

As much as I’ve learned about money in the past five years, and as much as I like to share what I’ve learned, there are still times when I fail to follow my own advice.

As I’ve mentioned, we live in a hundred-year-old house. This is a great and terrible thing. The house is beautiful and full of character, but it’s also a pain in the ass. In the six years we’ve lived here, one of the pains we’ve encountered repeatedly is the sewer line. About once a year, the thing clogs. But in the past year, it’s clogged more like once a quarter.

Generally, we’re able to handle the clogs on our own. We pour a little drain cleaner into the toilet or bathtub, and things magically work out on their own. But the recent clogs have been unresponsive to the magic of modern chemistry. In March, I finally broke down and called in a plumber. The plumber worked his magic, charged me 300 bucks, and asked if I wanted his boss to come give me a bid on repairing the sewer line.

“Sure,” I said.

The next day, a man named Jeremy showed up with his fancy equipment to scope out the problem with our line. Turns out the old concrete sewer pipe was probably laid in the 1940s or 1950s, and has never been repaired or replaced. There’s a section about 90 feet from the house (about 20 feet from the road) that has developed a “belly”: for several feet, the pipe has sunk below the rest of the line. Near this belly, there’s also a break in the line, and tree roots are encroaching. Basically, it’s a mess.

“It’s not a big deal,” Jeremy told me. “It’s easy to replace. Your sewer line is easy to access because it’s in the middle of the lawn. I can probably replace it in a day.” He quoted me a price of $1700.

Over the next couple of weeks, Jeremy called back twice to see if we wanted to spend the $1700 to repair the sewer line. “No,” I said. “Things seem to be okay for now.”

Well, things were okay for a while. Friday, however, the sewer line clogged again, and this time it was very very gross. Dirty water came flooding up into the bathtub. Yuck!

We called the plumber again. A different fellow came out and cleared the line. Because Kris and I were both home, he called us over to look when he’d finished his work. He had a camera 90 feet into the line, and he showed us the very damage that Jeremy had described. And then he said something that was very GRS-y.

“You can replace that five-foot section,” he told us, “but if I were you, I’d think about replacing everything from the sidewalk to the street. It’ll cost more, but if you save up for it, it’ll be more cost-effective in the long run. You’ve got other trees in that area, and they’re likely to cause trouble eventually if you don’t take steps to correct the problems now. And if you have us do all of it at once, it’ll cost less than if we have to repair it in pieces.”

A plumber with advice on budgeting for repairs — I like it!

The real lesson, of course, is not to defer home maintenance. I know this is one of the cardinal rules of home ownership, yet for some reason, I always procrastinate. I think it’s hard for me to spend on something that isn’t really an immediate problem. It’s May — my gutters aren’t overflowing. I just had the drain cleaned — the toilet isn’t clogging. And so on. But as we just learned, what would have cost me $1700 to repair in March will now cost me $2000 because I delayed. (That’s $1700 for the repair and $300 for the most recent visit by the plumber.)

After the plumber left, Kris and I had a chat.

“This is kind of a pattern for you, isn’t it?” she asked. She meant that I have a tendency to ignore warning signs and just hope that things will get better on their own. Last week, I wrote about ignoring warning signs from my computer as it began to fail. I’ve done the same many times in the past with cars, computers, clothing, home repairs, and (worst of all) my personal health. I don’t fix problems when they’re small; as a result, they often become big problems later on.

Basically, I should heed the advice I always give others. To quote Your Money: The Missing Manual:

Just as daily exercise and a sensible diet keep your body healthy and help you avoid costly medical bills, regular home maintenance keeps normal wear-and-tear from developing into problems, and problems from turning into emergencies.

[…]

When we bought our new house in 2004, the home inspector told us that for every dollar we spent on maintenance, we’d avoid roughly $100 in future repairs. He wrote in his inspection report, “In my experience as a professional home inspector, I have looked at hundreds of homes in all age ranges, and I have seen thousands of dollars of damage to homes that could have been avoided by spending $5 to $10 and just a few minutes of work.”

So, Kris and I are going to have some sewer work done.

Right now, we need to decide if we can afford to have the larger section replaced, or whether we’ll just go with the small patch. And if we do replace the longer section, do we tap into emergency savings to do so? I think we might.

It’s tough for me to accept that it’s not just okay, but it’s good to spend on solving small problems. It’s like self-insurance, or an investment in my future. My hope is that you can have the wisdom to learn from my mistakes. If you deal with a small problem before it becomes a big problem, you can save yourself time, money, and hassle.

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There are 98 comments to "Further Adventures in Home Maintenance".

  1. basicmoneytips.com says 10 May 2010 at 04:06

    Old homes do have character but that character comes with a price. Actaully the $1700 for sewer repair seems pretty reasonable to me, I think I would bite the bullet and do it. That way it is out of the way in the event that something else major happens next year or some time in the future.

  2. Mike Choi says 10 May 2010 at 04:35

    After reading this, I think I am going to replace my car battery tonight or sometime this week because I just needed a jump start this weekend. Even though the current batterys starts the car up fine and it got to work on this(monday) morning, it may go dead when I don’t want it to causing me more grief and costing me more than just the cost of a battery.

  3. Adam says 10 May 2010 at 04:37

    I think I would tap into the emergency fund. Fix it now before you have a geyser in your front yard! Especially since it wouldn’t be a friendly geyser. 🙂

  4. Ben says 10 May 2010 at 04:40

    I hear you on tapping the emergency fund. I recently had a bunch of medical expenses past my budget and ws reluctant to withdraw until I took stock and realised that was what it was there for.

  5. Mimi says 10 May 2010 at 04:42

    I’d do it. Old houses are like old folks; preventive medicine always beats the full-bore emergency intervention. Best of luck to you and Kris!

  6. DCS says 10 May 2010 at 04:46

    How deep is the line buried? Some are only three or four feet underground. If it’s not too deep, you can probably save a ton by digging it yourself. Then the plumber won’t need to bring in heavy equipment and someone to run it (and tear up the yard in the process).

    If it goes out at or below the basement floor it’s too deep to hand dig and you should just have a pro do it unless you can operate a backhoe yourself.

  7. lostAnnfound says 10 May 2010 at 04:51

    I also think the $1700.00 is a reasonable price. We have a house 100+ years old and are looking at replacing our sewer line also due to age and wear & tear. We will also have to pay to have the street dug up and the sewer line tied into the city’s line and then pay to have that area of the street repaved. Our estimates have been $3000.00 and up.

  8. Mario Jauregui says 10 May 2010 at 05:17

    Dude, doublecheck warranty of course longer is better 10 years or 20 I know we had roof replace about 4 years ago and this was a main concern. Our new roof did leak a little and they had to come to repair it! Just a word of caution. Good luck!

  9. leslie says 10 May 2010 at 05:26

    We are going through this right now with our house. Gutters have become the bane of my existence. We have had problems off and on with them but have never really taken the time to have them properly looked at. We have a ton of wood rot now because none of the gutters drain properly so they force water all sorts of places it is not supposed to go. We are spending the extra money to get them fixed now while we are getting all the rotten wood replaced so we don’t have to do this again in a few years. Annoying and more expensive than it needed to be.

  10. Brian B says 10 May 2010 at 05:48

    I hope I read all this right.

    Isn’t it actually a GOOD thing that you didn’t replace just that section of line when the first guy was out? If you did, you wouldn’t have gotten the second opinion from the guy who wanted to replace it all.

    It’s still early, I probably read that wrong

  11. KK says 10 May 2010 at 05:50

    If it were me I would not go with just the small patch. I’d have them complete the job so that is one less thing to worry about. I would not be afraid to use my emergency fund because isn’t that what it is for?

  12. Jon says 10 May 2010 at 05:56

    I have nearly exactly the same situation with the sewer line in my 88 year old home. So far, I’ve kept the line clear by renting a “snake” each time it clogs up, but I know I’m going to have to bite the bullet soon and spend the money to replace the old line with plastic. My line comes out below the level of the basement, so there’s no chance of hand-digging. Unfortunately, I also have a water main to replace soon. Gotta love the “character” of our old homes!

  13. J.D. says 10 May 2010 at 05:59

    @Brian B (#10)
    I’ve been a little unclear in my post. All of these fellows (both plumbers and Jeremy) are from the same company. And while it’s true that the second plumber recommended replacing everything from the sidewalk to the street, I still think we would have saved money by doing the repairs when they were first suggested.

    I’m calling Jeremy out today to give us a bid on the “sidewalk to the street” section. And we’ve decided to tap emergency savings if the project is doable.

  14. Jenn says 10 May 2010 at 06:01

    A big lesson we re-learned this week – get multiple estimates on home projects! We are hiring someone to paint the exterior of our house and repair a couple pieces of warped wood. Our second estimate was half the price of the first, and when the first painter was made aware of that he matched the bid.

    In our case another estimate took about an hour and was free, and save us over $3000.

  15. Louis says 10 May 2010 at 06:02

    You always need asecond opinion- period.
    I would also call an excavator because this is right up their alley and may be able to save you money.

    As always get the estimates in writing.

    When you pay the bill, no matter who does it, get a lein waiver signed stating they have been paid in full, and ask for a vendor lein release- write it on their contract or estimate.

    Get the entire run done @ once, and have an exterior clean out put in close to the house, you can plant a bush in front of it.

  16. chamoiswillow says 10 May 2010 at 06:07

    $1700 for the entire street-to-house pipe is very reasonable, you will never get a better deal, have the work done. Make sure you get two things first, however, 1) a written quote with detailed scope of work and any known exclusions (to avoid surprise add$) and the plumber’s certificate of insurance. If he won’t give you a copy find someone else. Also be sure to call digsafe(1-800-dig-safe) to make sure there are no underground utilities in the area (gas, electric, water, etc).

  17. Money Green Life says 10 May 2010 at 06:08

    yeah same thing happened to a water line at my folks place. water line broke coming in from the city main line and the plumber suggested replacing the entire line instead of replacing a section that broke. he said it broke because the line is very old and guessed that it’ll break again within the next fee months. my father deferred and ha only the broken section replaced. you guesses it, a different section broke only two weeks later. it ended up costing him $1000 more! lesson learned I suppose.

  18. Sam says 10 May 2010 at 06:16

    Can you do any of the work yourself? My husband reduced our costs to replace the cast iron sewer line at one of our investment properties (a 1930s home) by doing a lot of the work himself. He dug up the line, he also cut up the old pipe and disposed of it through the city bulk haul. The plumber installed the replacement line, took care of the disconnecting and reconnecting, etc.

    Three cheers for old homes, we have two 1920s and one 1930s.

  19. MaryR says 10 May 2010 at 06:23

    My father-in-law, a farm equipment mechanic, says that next to the check engine light on your car there should be a blinking “$500” and that the low oil symbol should include “$1000+.” He says it would help people understand their cars better.

  20. Welmoed says 10 May 2010 at 06:28

    You had a very smart home inspector!! We always tell our clients that deferred maintenance is false economy. Just last week we posted to our blog about the most common maintenance tasks that are deferred: gutters was certainly at the top of the list, but there are many more that will cause problems if not addressed on a regular basis.

  21. Rebecca says 10 May 2010 at 06:28

    Long story short- always fix anything having to do with water as quickly as possible. Small amounts of water have a tendency to turn into large dollar amounts of materials to be replaced.

    For instance- the gutters. Do you know how old your roof is? Do you if the flashing was installed correctly? Because overflowing gutters can easily mean water backing up into the roof which can mean rotting of your roof, the sheathing, and even the structural members. A leak under your sink, left to its own devices, can essentially melt your subfloor and lead to you have to replace the entire floor.

    My father had to redo an entire bathroom because the shower pan had not been poured correctly and water leaking over time had created mold up all of the drywall surrounding the shower (of course, it should have been green board in the first place…), as well as significant damage in the subfloor- to the point where you could put a finger through the wall without trying. All for the lack of a $5 bag of concrete.

  22. Brad says 10 May 2010 at 06:40

    Just remember to get references, check out this plumbers previous work, get a written contract and at least ask what the warrantee is on his work.

    Personal experience tells me that unless you’re a hands-on kind of guy, don’t tackle big projects like this on your own.

    The biggest plus about replacing the entire line is you a) won’t have to worry about this happening again in your lifetime b) sell the house with a “replaced sewer line” as a selling point (if and when you do).

    Oh, and thank God (or whomever) you don’t share your line with your neighbors.

  23. Rosa says 10 May 2010 at 06:52

    Ugh! Sewer work is about the definition of an emergency to me – the only thing worse is if the roof caves in.

    Our house is 108 years old. We spent $4000 a few years ago (and didn’t have water for 2 weeks, when I had a baby in diapers) to get just one section replaced – the part from the main in the middle of the street to the edge of our property – it was a lead pipe from 1902, when the original pipes were laid, but so scaled up with lime we didn’t have any lead in our water when it was tested. But one spring when the city flushed the pipes, it just fell apart.

    We would have had it replaced earlier, but we didn’t even know it existed – we had checked the age of the main on our corner and the pipes coming into the house, it never occurred to us there was a separate section in the no-man’s land between.

  24. Waves says 10 May 2010 at 06:58

    Isn’t this the point of an emergency fund? When you need to use money? What’s the point if you never use it.

  25. Alissa says 10 May 2010 at 07:00

    What I hear you saying is that even if you replace the one section, the rest is just a ticking time bomb. You never know when you’ll need those other sections replaced to. Why not actually save the money by doing preventative maintenance and get the whole thing replaced? And I would agree, isn’t this what your emergency fund is for?

  26. Dee says 10 May 2010 at 07:05

    This is where the rubber hits the road. It is time to practice good money management and home ownership.
    There will be more money in your pocket in the long run.
    Plumbing problems do not have a reputation of staying small and they are always show up at an inconvenient time.

    Do the work. You will rest easier, feel confident if you ever resale and have a great article to write to us : )

    Dee

  27. Mike says 10 May 2010 at 07:09

    Dip into your emergency savings.

    Either figure out what the extra repairs would have cost you, and/or include the $300/quarter you’d spend to clean out the sewer line, and replenish the savings based on that.

    Once you’ve paid off the amount you pulled from savings (plus interest?), you’re in the clear.

    Our old house apparently had a sewer line that did a 180 in the backyard–it used to go to a septic field, but was hooked to the city sewer on the street. We were able to keep it clean with periodic use of a copper-based root killer, and by filtering the washer hose discharge with a piece of pantyhose draining into the laundry tub. Also, installing a laundry tub gave us a canary in the coal mine–when it filled we knew to take action before other drains in the house backed up. We only had to have the drain cleaned 3 times in the 9 years we lived there. Someone will eventually have to replace it, and likely by running the line out the front of the house (thus running a new drain line across the basement.)

  28. SF_UK says 10 May 2010 at 07:21

    Plumbing problems tend not to “go away”. Worse, when they come back, they come back bigger, better, and with more damage, disaster and mayhem. Typically at the worst possible time (think pipes bursting on Christmas morning, or your basement flooding with sewage when your in-laws are due to visit). Yes, insurance will often pay for “consequential damage”, but not for fixing the cause, and then there’s the inconvenience and, well, it’s just not nice having even clean water flooding through your home. Sewage… let’s just not go there.
    On the subject of insurance, make sure you *are* covered for consequential damage. We had a leaking pipe under a bath (clean water). The first we knew about it was when the kitchen ceiling fell in into the middle of the dining table followed by a gallon or so of water, about a week before Christmas. Fixing the pipe took my dad half an hour and about £5 worth of parts. Fixing the consequential damage – I don’t know, because they were covered, but the ceiling had to be mended, replastered and painted, one wall needed replastering, the whole room needed repapering, and the carpet had to be replaced. The loss adjuster was great, and was happy for them to replace the carpet with vinyl, which was more suitable for my brother’s wheelchair, and make up the allowed “replacement cost” of the carpet by buying some hardwearing rugs.

  29. Nicole says 10 May 2010 at 07:24

    Is this one of those jobs where it would be helpful to get a second bid?

    With plumbing I don’t think we would because there’s only one reputable plumber in our town, but if there were more than one I think we would.

  30. RMoM says 10 May 2010 at 07:27

    I was just quoted $5000 to repair a section of line over which a very large eucalyptus tree is growing. The tree has caused a dip in the line due to its weight pressing down on the pipe so I guess it’s only a matter of time before the pipe breaks. I don’t want to spend 5 grand and I don’t want to cut down the tree so I’m going to wait until I’m forced to do either because I just can’t make a decision on that tree.

  31. elaine says 10 May 2010 at 07:32

    Infrastructure – house, body, etc is ALWAYS worth a withdrawal from the emergency fund. I do not hesitate to invest in my house or my body (medical and dental care) – if not those, what?

  32. ashleyD says 10 May 2010 at 07:37

    i vote to fix the entire thing and not think of it again! it is an emergency of sorts!

  33. partgypsy says 10 May 2010 at 07:40

    We also have an old house. There are certain things you just don’t want to mess with. Before we moved in we had the roof redone and all the electricity replaced (before it was knob and tube). And at this point, pretty much all the plumbing below ground has been replaced, including the “stack” that runs to the main sewer. An old compromised stack is an accident waiting to happen. The stacks were original to the house and just had a couple slow leaks, almost like sweating in a couple spots, but that was enough for us to go ahead and replace it. The alternative is not worth it.

  34. lynn says 10 May 2010 at 07:40

    I have a 1930’s home and have the same issue with my sewer lines. I know I have to replace the main line from the house to the street but the quotes are 5-8K (I live in L.A.)! I’m thankful for every flush that makes it’s way down the line 🙂

    Older homes are great but the cost adds up (new windows, new paint, etc., etc.)

  35. Marcia says 10 May 2010 at 07:40

    My grandmother had a saying “Buying cheap is expensive” If you have the $$ in an emergency fund, I’d use it, simply because it really is an emergency – it just hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps an emergency fund can be that as well – an emergency prevention fund!

  36. Mendy says 10 May 2010 at 07:45

    Replace the whole thing J.D., you just got a new glorious IMAC for probably the same amount of dough, this a much smellier problem if it doesn’t get taken care of.

  37. HollyP says 10 May 2010 at 07:48

    Timely post… I just e-mailed MrP telling him that we need to make some investments in maintenance or we’ll be spending a whole lot to fix things next spring!

  38. Leah says 10 May 2010 at 07:49

    One day, I called my mom in a tizzy. I had my first cavity ever, and it was going to cost me $100 to fill it. I was in grad school at the time, and I was worrying about the cost when she goes, “well, that’s what you have an emergency fund for, right?”

    And she is right. I’ve always had an emergency fund (starting at 15 with my first job — thanks, mom!). And I paid the $100 out of that, worked on paying it back right away.

    If I were you, I’d fix the whole shebang and just take care of it. In fact, even if it costs more money, I’d make sure to fix it in a way that routes the sewer around any major trees you love (and I’d say the same to #26). You don’t want to mess with sewer issues. Just think of it this way: you’re making in investment that will significantly reduce your need to deal with human fecal matter.

  39. Jackie says 10 May 2010 at 07:56

    I’d probably get the whole thing replaced too, but definitely get at least 3 opinions first on the work that might need to be done. It’s useful to hear multiple solutions and price points, and if they all agree on the problem and the solution, that’s a plus too.

  40. Thisiswhyubroke! says 10 May 2010 at 07:57

    Awesome post! I think its important as bloggers to show whats behind the curtain and I love how you have no fears in doing so.

  41. meks says 10 May 2010 at 08:05

    As an aside, my plumber told me drain cleaner can be very corrosive to your (interior) pipes. This is particularly true if they are plugged as the cleaner will sit in one spot for a while. It won’t address issues with your sewer pipe, but I would also invest in a $15 snake from the hardware store and use that instead of drain cleaner.

  42. RJ Weiss says 10 May 2010 at 08:07

    I struggle with this same thing. I have a young maple tree that is about to grow right into the power line. I can remove it now for $100 or remove it two years down the road, when it matures for $500. It would seem to be a no-brainer to remove it now, but I just can’t get myself to spend the money.

  43. Shara says 10 May 2010 at 08:09

    OMG. We had the same thing, only instead of a concrete line ours was paper (and luckily shorter). Apparently around WWII there was such a shortage of metal that they made pipe out of compressed paper (you learn a lot of history with home repair). Each time we had our line snaked we would actually make the hole bigger. When we dug it out we went right through the pipe because the dirt was actually providing the structural integrity of the line, and when it was gone the thing just collapsed. I would NOT discount the idea of that happening in your case. With a line that old you have no idea what’s going to happen to the line when you dig it up.

    I second the idea of digging it out yourself. Most plumbers don’t have a guy to dig holes at $20/hour. They have plumbers to dig it out at $60-90/hour. that gets expensive fast. This is a time when you can be creative and ask them what your options are.

    In the mean time it’s spring and roots are growing quickly. Our plumber recommended flushing root killer periodically to keep it as clear as possible until the work was finished.

    Also, when you’re talking to these guys ask if they are giving you estimates, or quotes. We asked the guy who did ours for an estimate, but that we wanted to pay an hourly rate (because we were doing 60% of the work ourselves) and he insisted he gave us a hard quote, and my husband wrote the check before I got home ($2500 for a $1200 job). It was a bitch arguing with the manager. I finally got $800 back, but my repeated request for an itemized bill was repeatedly mysteriously ‘lost’ until life finally intruded and I gave up. I will never use Rotorooter again, but at least my septic line is reliable again.

  44. Erin says 10 May 2010 at 08:14

    I also think you should replace the whole thing.

    It’s going to sting having to withdraw the money!! But this is exactly WHY we build up an emergency fund. Not to mention the peace of mind of having it all fixed correctly the first time is worth it to me.

    If you only replace that section, you’ll always have it in the back of your head, wondering when you’ll need to do the rest, when it’s going to break again, etc.

    Not to mention, you’ll repair the yard only to have to do it again in the future if they have to come back and do the rest later. I don’t know how you feel about your yard, but I like a nice yard. I had to repair deep tire tracks in mine when I bought my house and it’s been a real pain…and somewhat costly! Having to bring in dirt, spread seed…then the dirt settled and left a ridge, so I had to put down more dirt…seed again…and it honestly looks like it may need it one more time to get it level!

    Just do it once and mark it off the list.

  45. Budgeting in the Fun Stuff says 10 May 2010 at 08:14

    I also procrastinate with home maintenance and I’m sure it’s going to bite me in the butt at some point. Big stuff (like water leaks) we handle immediately, but it took 3 years to cover a small hole on the side of our house. I still haven’t cleaned off the green mold stuff that started growing on the bottom part of our siding.

    I’m going to use this article as a spur…this afternoon the siding will be clean and our air filter will be changed. I will also clean the shower drain now instead of waiting for it to get bad. Woot! It’s on my calendar and emailed to myself.

  46. J.D. says 10 May 2010 at 08:21

    This discussion is very helpful to me in another way.

    You don’t know this, but I have a half-completed article (actually, I have dozens of half-completed articles) about preventative health care. My family just doesn’t like to go to the doctor, and it’s beginning to cost me. I’m trying to change my attitude.

    For example, on Saturday (the day after our sewer issue), I crashed my bike. I went over the handlebars at about 20mph, landing on both knees and both wrists. The wrists took the brunt of the blow, and I’ve been in intense pain ever since. But have I gone to the doctor? Hell no! I’m a Roth!

    I just now got home from my morning workout, read the comments, and realized I was being an idiot. I’ve made an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow morning. Better to get things looked at now than to risk causing prolonged damage in the long run, right?

  47. KarenJ says 10 May 2010 at 08:41

    JD, I have some personal experience in this area, so listen up! My husband and I bought a property to “flip,” a few years ago. Unfortunately, our timing couldn’t have been worse and we’ve ended up being stuck with the house and forced into being landlords. The house was built in the 1930’s. Needless to say, we’ve come to call it “The Money Pit,” for those of you who remember that movie. We had a problem with the plumbing which we kept repairing with similar stop gap measures. Finally, the drains backed up and forced sewage into the basement. Total cost of that repair $2,500 ($2,000 just for the clean-up). Water leaking resulted in a huge hole in the ceiling in the kitchen. All total, the plumbing damage cost us about $4,000, all of which had to be repaired before we could get a COO for the next tenant. My advice: suck it up, take the money out of the emergency fund and get the whole repair done. The piece of mind is worth a lot more, and chances are with modern plumbing you’ll be good to go for the remainder of the time you’ll be living there.

  48. Debbie M says 10 May 2010 at 08:43

    Marcia said it better, but it sounds like JD is having trouble considering this an emergency because everything currently works. If he doesn’t have enough money when things are actually backing up, that does feel like an emergency and thus something to use the funds for. Preventative maintenance does not feel like an emergency because there is more leeway on when you can get it done. But if you’re spending less money overall for the same result (no back-ups), it does make sense to use money from the same (emergency) fund.

    I am fascinated by all these piping materials. My house (built in 1955) had a sewer pipe made basically of cardboard (the same stuff Shara had). Of course that needed replacing. But concrete? Cast iron? Lead? And none of these are impervious to tree roots? My new plastic pipes aren’t sounding so great.

    I love trees! Can trees and houses not mix?

    Copper-based root killer? That sounds like a very interesting strategy.

    @RJWeiss — can’t you just trim the branches that are heading toward the power line?

    @partgypsy — what does rewiring the house involve? Did you have to tear down all the drywall and start over (if drywall even existed back then)? I have normal wiring but with no third (ground) wire and so should probably do the same. Can all the wiring (including outlets) be put higher on the wall (to prevent problems with flooding)? Can they be put behind easily removable chair rails for easy future access?

    I’ve been good with some preventative maintenance–I got 30-year roof shingles instead of 20-year shingles when I had to replace my roof (next time: metal). I weatherized it (insulation, sealing, shaded window screens). I got metal doors when my wooden doors needed replacing.

    I want real exterior shutters that can be closed to protect against storm damage (I’m at the edge of tornado country and hurricane country, plus we get hail storms). I could even use real shutters just to block the sun all through August when it tends to reach 100 degrees daily.

    Is it wrong that my house doesn’t have gutters?

    @JD — on health, I use the following metric to decide if I should see a doctor. When I feel that if my mom found out that I knew about the symptoms I know about and didn’t go to the doctor, she would get upset, then I go to the doctor. Another note: many insurance companies have a nurse line where you can call and tell them your symptoms and let them advise you on whether to go to the doctor. It’s free and it’s easy and you may find you don’t need to go to the doctor after all. (I often get told something like “If after 48 hours, your symptoms have not gotten substantially better, then see a doctor.”)

  49. Kevin M says 10 May 2010 at 08:47

    @JD – you might contact your city/county about sewer line replacement assistance. Our town has a program where they will pay part of the cost (replace the section from the street to a certain point in the yard) if the homeowner covers the rest.

    I guess like your plumber recommended, they think fixing it all at once is worth the investment.

  50. Chris Foundas says 10 May 2010 at 08:53

    My father always told me: “It’s easier to make a new house old, than an old house new.” Great financial advice for thinking long-term about the costs of home ownership.

  51. Aja B. says 10 May 2010 at 09:02

    Wow, I’m impressed by the $1700 street-to-house replacement. We just bought a 1940’s house up in Portland, and one of the contingencies was that the previous owner replace the entire sewer line. I think it cost around $5k, and everyone thought that was pretty reasonable.

    But yeah, sewers are not something we mess around with.

  52. Rosa says 10 May 2010 at 09:09

    JD, i hope you really went to the doctor!

    The thing about sewers, and health issues, is that they are way more expensive to get fixed on an emergency basis – and if things seem fine Monday morning when the office is closed that doesn’t mean they’ll be fine at 10 pm on Friday when the emergency room/overtime plumber are your only option.

  53. TosaJen says 10 May 2010 at 09:10

    We have two older properties (1928 single family and 1946 duplex, where we live), and we also get to deal with the “charm” of old plumbing and wiring.

    Just to toss another variable into the mix, neither of these are candidates for our “forever” homes, although I could see hanging onto the duplex for a long time. We aren’t sure how long we’ll own the properties, so we have to try to determine whether today’s inconvenience will turn into our expensive problem, or the next owner’s expensive problem.

    We keep up with issues that affect the value, safety, and integrity of the buildings, so roofing, plumbing, painting and electrical issues are more urgent than new windows and a new driveway. We already run “into the red” on the properties tax-wise because of depreciation, so tax write-offs don’t make much of a difference.

    I’m pretty sure we’d get the entire pipe done, too. I’d also make sure the plumber uses a specialized subcontractor to dig out the line, instead of having a $$ plumber do it, unless you’re up to doing it yourself.

    Like I said, just throwing another consideration in there!

  54. jeffeb3 says 10 May 2010 at 09:11

    The only word of warning is that you can spend a lot of money preparing for emergencies that aren’t that likely.

    If you spend $25 twenty times to avoid a $500 repair, you are not coming out ahead. Also, if you can push the recursive repair back a bit, you are reducing the total cost of that recursive repair. But these lessons aren’t generally needed because most people avoid simple repairs more often than not.

    One example though, I bought a rug on clearance this weekend, and the sales guy tried to tell me that the rug was like sand paper on my floor, and that I needed a mat underneath. It’s scary to compare the cost of a $30 mat to the cost of replacing my flooring, but I really think there’s a small chance of it ruining my flooring. With regular checks, and maintenance, I can watch for signs of wear, and even refinish the floor if I think it’s about to do permanent damage.

  55. Kathryn says 10 May 2010 at 09:12

    What a timely coincidence! My car’s clutch has been making an odd (but soft) noise for several weeks now. This weekend the noise got much worse, so this morning the car is in the shop. I’ve got an auto section within my emergency fund and though this section is not yet maxed out, I’m not stressing on the upcoming car repair bill… and I’ll have the confidence of knowing I won’t break down ( at least from this problem) while on the road, thus requiring a tow. Yay for emergency funds applying to averting emergencies and reducing stress!

    Now… do I also use my emergency fund to replace the cell phone I killed yesterday, or do I keep using my daughter’s old beat up brick of a phone?

  56. Brian says 10 May 2010 at 09:12

    Based on your $300 bill I would say you’re calling a plumber with “Rooter” in the name. Just a heads up, Apollo plumbing in Portland will clear it for a price tag closer to $60. Might drastically affect your calculus.

    As for the replacement of the pipe, I would get that bid out too, but in my experience the quotes were about the same from most plumbers.

    “Rooter” told me I needed to replace my line as well, for $5,000 several years ago. Had it rooted at that time and haven’t had problems since, but I called for bids on the line replacement and while they were there asked them what it would cost to clear it. Most independents came in around $60 to $80 for the service.

  57. mike says 10 May 2010 at 09:13

    Google: “Trenchless sewer drain” and “cured in place pipe”

    JD, one of these technologies could save you tremendous amounts of time and money if you plan to repair/replace the entire stretch of pipe.

    We bought a 1950s era home less than a year ago – and discovered late that we have tree root intrusion and a belly in the line also. In my research, I found out about the trenchless types of lines that are being installed these days. Apparently saves a bundle because there’s not a lot of excavation and backfilling involved.

    And I agree with everyone else… get a second or third quote before you begin any work. Ask about the process, too. Traditional pipes (those with sections/seams) are going to be susceptible to tree root intrusion in the future… seamless pipes are much less susceptible.

  58. J.D. says 10 May 2010 at 09:30

    Folks, the $1700 quote is just for the “belly” section. I’m calling today to get a quote on sidewalk-to-street (which is about 30 feet in my case). I’ll also call Apollo plumbing, as Brian suggested. I’ve been using Mr. Rooter. They’re good guys, but you’re right: It’s a good idea to get multiple bids…

  59. Scott K says 10 May 2010 at 09:35

    I know this wasn’t the point of the article, but I just had to comment on one thing: Please don’t put drain cleaner down your toilet. It could break down the wax seal and cause a whole new plumbing problem!

    That said, I’d have to agree with Brian B and recommend getting additional estimates.

  60. Shara says 10 May 2010 at 10:18

    Out of curiosity how do you know they’re great guys? You’re not a plumber and it sounds like you call the same place every time. FYI, I thought the same thing as Brian when you said the price. My regular plumber charged me $60-80 depending on time etc for rooting my failing pipe. His operation was too small to do the whole line or I would have used him.

  61. chacha1 says 10 May 2010 at 10:41

    Just a note prompted by the $100 cost of moving an adolescent maple tree … this is a great discussion on the cost of deferred maintenance, and our natural tendency to defer maintenance, but I’d invite everyone who *has* deferred maintenance to take a look through your checkbook and see what the last ten things were that you spent more than $100 (apiece) on.

    If your only big payments are insurance and a mortgage, then you may be better off deferring maintenance. But if you have $100+ a month going out on travel, entertainment, or toys, car payments or cable bills or extended cell-phone plans, it’s time to think about whether putting off a $100 maintenance job – that you KNOW will save you multiples of that sum later on – is rational.

    It’s exactly analogous to skipping the doctor visit because of the $50 co-pay.

  62. Christine T. says 10 May 2010 at 10:50

    Preventative care and timely visits are especially important for dental care! I spent a miserable weekend once with a filling that had come loose and the nerve was exposed. Of course it got really bad friday night when everyone is closed for the weekend. Car emergencies tend to happen on sundays as well!

  63. JM says 10 May 2010 at 10:51

    You live in Portland, right? Number one attractant for rats in Portland (especially in SE) is broken clay sewer lines (composts of table scraps is no. 2). Rats love sewer lines. See those holes in the front lawns of old houses? Rat holes down to sewer lines.

    Get it replaced before you open the toilet seat one day to find a cute little rodent staring back at you. Take my word for it.

  64. Nicole says 10 May 2010 at 12:43

    I had been thinking it sounded a bit expensive, but I figured that was just the difference in price between a real city and a small city. Our plumber charges $80 to do almost anything small (like unclogging drains, checking out mysterious leaks) and they charged us something like $300 to dig up and fix the gas pipes along our driveway that were doing bad things (and were not included in our home warranty), including dealing with the city for digging permits and stuff.

  65. Wilson says 10 May 2010 at 12:56

    I agree, replace the entire line stat. It’s going to cost more over a period of several years to replace it piecemeal plus will be a giant recurring headache. You wouldn’t advocate paying a higher final cost to finance an item over time so use your emergency fund to save money now. I had to pay $6000 to replace the sewer line to my 80+ yr old home.
    Multiple bids are also a must. I have an annoying toilet line pipe repair that I don’t have time to do but shouldn’t be too hard. The first guy came in at $650 and the others at $150-250. I should have solicited more bids for the sewer line but because it was rather unsightly I just signed off on the first guy but of course found out later I had paid way too much. So never go with the first bid just because its easy or they seem trustworthy.
    I also procrastinate on home repairs, and guess what, I’m making the same bathtub plumbing repair twice in 6 months now on the tenant side of the double. If I had just dealt with it then I wouldn’t now be shelling out an extra few hundred and replacing damaged sheetrock.

  66. Hollis Colquhoun says 10 May 2010 at 13:06

    I have lived in and renovated old houses for the last 30 years. One of the best things to do right away is to find a good group of professionals: plumber, mason, electrician, painter, roofer, etc. who have come highly recommended and are reasonably priced. This takes some time, but it’s worth it when you want to maintain your house and also have a team who knows you and you know them, when there are emergencies. (If you don’t have someone you know in your speed dial and have to call a new professional because of an emergency, chances are the price is going to go up.)
    Just as an aside, I sold my last house 3 years ago and I’m now renting a small (old) carriage house, so maintenance isn’t my problem anymore. This sure makes my monthly expenses more predictable!

  67. KC says 10 May 2010 at 13:10

    I think crap in your bathtub constitutes and emergency. Definitely dip into you emergency fund to fix the WHOLE thing if you don’t have the money elsewhere.

  68. Shara says 10 May 2010 at 13:13

    I will also add, when you’re looking for plumbers, don’t just go with the yellow pages. Try to get referrals from friends and neighbors. My regular plumber doesn’t advertise because he gets enough business just through referrals. He is fully licensed, but works out of his truck with a cell phone which keeps his costs way down.

    Plumbing itself it actually a very very straightforward vocation with very simple principles. It pays well because it often involves getting covered in poop. I could likely come in and change your line, so make them explain everything they are doing, and if you don’t understand the explanation they are delivering a load of crap before they clean up yours. We would have done our own but my husband wasn’t comfortable running the line through the foundation. When he saw what the guy did he felt pretty stupid.

    A number of people have said it and I can’t stress enough: THE MAJORITY OF THE PRICE OF A SEWAGE/SEPTIC LINE REPLACEMENT IS MOVING DIRT. You can move dirt, and if you don’t want to you can pay people a lot less than you’re plumber’s making to do it.

    Get a quote for the job and then get a quote for the job if you do the excavation and replace the dirt. If the job for just the line is more than ~$1500 ask him why. Materials are marked up, but you’re probably looking at a 3-4 hour job (many times longer if you leave the dirt in place).

    Plumbers put a lot of markup on a sewage line because most people are like you: they deal with it when it’s a problem and no one wants to put off the work for a few days while they solicit quotes. Work it into their schedule, do the heavy lifting yourself, and watch the price drop considerably.

  69. Gretchen says 10 May 2010 at 13:18

    Plumbing and electrical are 2 things I would not attempt on my own.

    Emergency funds are for emergencies- use the money.

  70. Shara says 10 May 2010 at 13:23

    Oh, and this is poop, but the same principle applies as if you were buying a car: 1) do your research, 2) talk to more than one vendor, 3) negotiate. Don’t let the difference in the product mess with your head.

  71. Shara says 10 May 2010 at 13:29

    @ Gretchen

    With both electrical and plumbing I would suggest thinking of any project in stages. I intend to replace a furnace this year. To do that: I will shop online and find one, have it delivered, turn off all electrical and gas lines to the current one, physically move the old one out and new one in, THEN pay a licensed plumber to connect all of the lines and test the system.

    I will spend a couple hours of my time and spend 1/3 compared to calling a plumber/HVAC guy and having him do everything. I won’t touch anything dangerous, and I will have a signed receipt from a licensed professional if something goes wrong.

    When you’re looking at major repairs like a furnace or sewage line doing the grunt work can save you many thousands of dollars and not risk the integrity of the repair at all.

  72. Karen says 10 May 2010 at 14:10

    Remind me never to buy a 100 year old house…..even if it’s “cheap”..! Just too many issues

  73. Anshul Gupta says 10 May 2010 at 14:51

    Nice post man..

    This is true that by our human nature we have a inherent tendency to avoid seeing what is beforehand, whether its a small problem of a small solution! We tend to ignore the free advices but spend thousand of bucks on buying nuts later on…

  74. Ian says 10 May 2010 at 15:10

    Do it right the first time. Frankly the cost to patch vs. the full repair should be similar.

    In our case we’re looking at a $5k job, so we’re waiting.

    But when we had our sewer inspected when we bought our 100 year old house 3 years ago he said they can dig one hole at the street, one at the house, and pull a new PVC line right through the old one.

    In our case there is no way to get a backhoe into our backyard (15 ft above street level) so the hand digging ups the price.

    Get 3 bids to replace it all. Do it right. And if you ever go to sell that’s one more plus on your side.

  75. Rosa says 10 May 2010 at 15:17

    Karen, the issues for a 100 year old house are just different than for a newer house – we’re never going to have to worry about mold in the walls, for sure.

    I was wondering – does anyone else use Angie’s List? We have had a lot of luck getting quotes through there – usually if we call 3 or 4 professionals with A ratings there, there’s a very expensive one, a very cheap one, and two in the middle – we always choose the middle and none of them have done us wrong yet.

  76. Gholmes says 10 May 2010 at 15:20

    Isnt that is what Duct Tape was made for? For folks like us that want to procrastinate to the rainy season.

  77. Faculties says 10 May 2010 at 15:39

    I would check out the companies on a site like Angie’s List before hiring anyone. For what it’s worth, I went with Mr. Rooter for a while because they were cheaper. Unfortunately, the problem I had was recurring. That’s when I found out that Roto-Rooter (which is more expensive up front) has a three-year guarantee for the kind of work I had done, while Mr. Rooter had no guarantee. So the next time the problem recurred, I went with Roto-Rooter, and they fixed it free when it recurred again within the three-year time period. (After that I spent the big bucks to have the whole system replaced.) I should add that I have no ties to any of these companies. My point is to check out the companies ahead of time, and find out what their guarantees are (and how often they honor them).

  78. Tall Bill says 10 May 2010 at 15:51

    Get 3 bids minimun with the same details, ie: Street to house with lawn back into place, etc. You’ll be surprised at how they differ & the low one is usually not the one to go with as they may have some hidden add ons to make it proper and back as it was before everything gets dug up. Your city can help with this as connecting to public sewers requires a city approvel – even for replacing a line already connected. Also check under Side Sewers in your phone book – that’s their speciality & sometimes are the ones subcontracted by the rooter plumbers as many are inside work specialists & do not dig ditches on their own. Good luck!

  79. Caroline says 10 May 2010 at 16:05

    Read Flushed by W. Hodding Carter 🙂 Very entertaining and informative on the subject of plumbing! And it’s short!!

  80. EscapeVelocity says 10 May 2010 at 16:10

    What are they replacing it with? My parents have PVC drain pipes and my father digs them up to get the roots out at least every 10 years. I spent a spring break in high school helping out with this job. It may be all anybody does these days, but it probably won’t last as long as your existing pipe did.

  81. D says 10 May 2010 at 16:12

    Definitely repair the entire thing. If it helps to justify the expense, just remember that broken sewer pipes go both ways: They let tree roots and soils in, and they also let untreated sewage into the environment. Not someone else’s environment (whatever that is), but your own yard.

  82. Shara says 10 May 2010 at 16:53

    @EscapeVelocity

    Your dad should re-evaluate how he is using his pipe. If installed correctly it should be lasting much longer than 10 years.

    Where is he draining to? We have a problem with PVC drainpipe that is quite old, but that is because roots have grown back into it a number of feet to get at water. They grew up from the end, not through it. An end to end enclosed system like sewage shouldn’t have problems for a very long time.

    while anecdotal evidence suggests it can last 60-100 years a study commissioned by the National Association of Homebuilders and Bank of America says buried PVC piping for sprinkler systems are expected to have a life expectancy of 25 years.

  83. Sassy says 10 May 2010 at 17:45

    On preventative medicine….

    My office is fantastic and runs some great programmes for the employees.

    Being in Australia we have a bit of an issue with the sun and skin cancer, so one of the programmes run last year was a free skin cancer check. We had a skin cancer specialist come in, you made a 15 minute appointment and he checked over any areas you had concerns about.

    We had 477 employees do this, and 85 of them were referred on with issues. Including myself. I ended up having two skin cancers removed from my face and head, and I have always been very sun phobic.

    I am so grateful to my employers and so thankful that I took the 15 minutes to get myself checked out and saved myself a possible melanoma in the future.

    I had been like you JD and actively avoided the doctor unless I was bleeding from an artery…I fully understand now the benefits of preventative medicine.

  84. david/yourfinances101 says 10 May 2010 at 18:55

    All great stuff.

    Its a fine line whether to pull the trigger on a major repair or try to wait it out.

    Especially because a lot of the time, these repair people will try to talk you into repairs that aren’t really needed.

    In the end, its all a crapshoot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose

  85. Jennifer says 10 May 2010 at 19:29

    JD–we had a $7K sewer repair in an old house about 8 years ago. It wasn’t $7k all at once, but rather a little fix here, a scope here, a patch repair at the junction of a spur line and the main line in the driveway and THEN the scope that figured out the whole darn sewer line had disintegrated about a foot in front of the city main and was dumping sewage into an impending sinkhole in front of our house. Get the whole thing fixed now. Toilet paper geysers and sewage sinkholes are no fun, and they only cost you more time and aggravation the longer you put them off.

    But I agree that these sorts of things are hard to muster up the enthusiasm for. This was our first house and we had budgeted for all sorts of things but not for this kind of expense right away. We ended up borrowing the $$ from my parents. My mom lamented with me, “No one will ever come over and say; I JUST LOVE WHAT YOU DID WITH YOUR SEWER!”

  86. bon says 10 May 2010 at 19:40

    So many awesome recommendations in these comments (and I don’t even have a house!)

    Second Opinions (of course)
    Specific Estimates in Writing
    Lein Waivers & A Vendor Lein Release
    Different piping materials
    Digsafe.com
    Contacting the City/County for help w/ payment

    JD — I know you need a well deserved break, but after that — recommended next project: GRS Home & Garden ebook — written w/ help from experts & your awesome community of commenters!!

  87. Melissa says 10 May 2010 at 19:49

    JD, This is about “infrastructure”. The basics need to work properly in order for the rest of life to be comfortable. Dip into the emergency fund and fix the sewer line properly.

    I’m still teaching this one to my new hubby. He’s great, hard-working, and wonderful. However, he hates to spend money on things he knows he needs. His 15 year old car was dying on him regularly during his 45 minute a day commute to work. Buying a new car was the smart thing to do, but it took me months to convince him to do it, even though he had the money saved specifically for that purpose!

  88. Funny about Money says 10 May 2010 at 19:59

    Around here, $1,700 would be a good price for sewer line work, even for a short stretch. It’s expensive. As Shara and some other writers mention, a lot of the cost is paying a skilled craftsman’s rates for laborer’s work. It might be worth hiring a yard guy to do the excavation–or, if the pipe isn’t buried halfway to China, do the digging yourself.

    Since eventually the entire line may have to be replaced, it could be cost-effective to do it now. A geyser in the front yard can do some serious damage to your landscape and maybe even to the house. Insurance companies cast a gimlet eye on water damage claims.

    On the other hand, I sure would get at least one other opinion about it. And several bids.

  89. McG says 11 May 2010 at 05:42

    Definitely do the digging yourself; if you just can’t do that, pay someone cheap. People dig ditches for minimum wage, fixing pipes fetches (and deserves) a premium. It doesn’t make sense to pay someone $100/hr to work a shovel.

  90. Christine says 11 May 2010 at 06:01

    My husband and I had a similar belly issue with our main sewer line. We had to have a trench jackhammered through the basement floor, and a hole dug in the front yard. It’s worth it to not have to worry about backups that would cost even more to clean up. I’d say tap the emergency fund and get it done in one shot. It’ll cost less in the long run then to have the plumbing company have to mobilize again.

  91. Jill says 11 May 2010 at 11:42

    Angie’s List may work well in big cities where they’ve had time to build up their database, but when we tried it, we were extremely disappointed with how little we could find in our area. Even though we were part of three smallish metropolitan areas all grouped together, there was still hardly anything there, and you were lucky to see any thoughts of a specific vendor.

  92. brodiemac says 11 May 2010 at 12:15

    Trust me when I say this as I have done plenty of these myself; REPLACE THE ENTIRE LINE! Clay pipe laid down in the 40’s or 50’s is well overdue for failure. If you only replace the suspect section, will WILL end up replacing the other sections. It may be immediate or it may come years down the road but the entire thing will have to be replaced. Do it all now and save yourself the headache.

  93. Eric says 11 May 2010 at 18:58

    And don’t forget to take high resolution pictures during the process. It’s also a good point to inform the contractor that you will take pictures during the process.

    More specifically, you want to take the line when it’s dug out. The first picture should pinpoint the location of the problem and take a second picture of the whole work area. Third and fourth would be the same of the job completed.

    In case of doubt, take some more pictures of the joints, between the house and the main pipe, and between the main pipe and the city connection.

    If something happens, you will have documents to go back to. Very useful when dealing with insurance companies and applying the insurance given by the contractor. You will also have valuable documents if the house is sold eventually.

    Good luck!

  94. Irish Tom says 12 May 2010 at 02:56

    JD, You could always do it yourself. If it is simply replacing the old concrete ones with newer, perhaps plastic, piping, all you need as a shovel (or rent a machine since its a big job (100 feet)) and the new pipes. It will save you a lot of money and you will be so satisfied that you did it yourself. It doesn’t sound like there is any connection issues so no real technical issues that only qualified plumbers would know. I’ve saved thousands doing things around the house myself. Go to a builders store and look for the pipes. You might be amazed at how cheap they are. Get on-line to forums first so you know what you are looking for – correct type of pipe, thickness, material etc. The only work involved is digging, lifting old pipes, droping in new pipes. Perhaps some sealing of the joins and then covering back in the trench. That’s a basic overview and perhaps some small details omitted but a DIY forum should put you straight on that.

    Good luck.

  95. Shara says 12 May 2010 at 13:42

    @Irish Tom

    Normally I would agree with you, but in this case I wouldn’t recommend JD do the whole job himself. The first issue is making sure the angle and connections are right. Sure he COULD do it himself, but it’s a high cost to repair after he puts the dirt back in place. The second is liability. If he hires someone licensed and bonded he has someone to appeal to other than himself if it’s wrong.

    I agree that he should do as much as he can and as much as he’s comfortable with. Personally if I were in his shoes (with a currently working pipe) I would buy the materials, make a date with an independent certified plumber (a small guy who has full license and insurance but not the contacts/hardware for larger jobs), and dig out the line to be ready for the plumber. When he was there I would offer my hands as an assistant both to learn and to not pay someone else to do it.

    If I were digging it by hand I would dig out most of it well before (but not so much the structure the dirt is providing is compromised), and finish it up the morning of the pipe being out. If I were using a backhoe I would rent it for the day before and let my family know there is no sewage service as soon as I hit the pipe as it will likely break when depth is reached.

  96. Matt says 13 May 2010 at 10:25

    Not too long ago I replaced my entire drain line due to it being old and collapsing under ground somewhere in the front yard. I used to work in construction so I did the job myself. The drain was made from cast iron and only a 12 foot section was damaged, but I decided to replace the whole line with PVC which ran the length of the house and out to the street (water meter roughly). I’m glad I did because I sure don’t want to have to dig up any more dirt in the front yard. I also replaced the galvanized steel water line supplying the house. It ran along the drain pipe. If yours does the same, I’d recommend taking a look at it and replacing if necessary since the ground will be dug up, if doing the whole thing. Then at least all your plumbing from the street to the underside of your house will last for a long time without you having to worry any more.

  97. Tom says 14 May 2010 at 04:46

    JD,
    We really need the obvious followup article – a list of inexpensive, quick maintenance that saves $100 on the $1. Preferably with links to how to accomplish each item, or which ones need to be handled by a pro.

  98. Knoxville drain cleaning says 20 June 2013 at 19:50

    Clogged drainage can be avoided if you yourself will make a habit of cleaning and maintaining it everyday after use. You can save a lot of money.

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