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Question DetailsAsked on 8/25/2014


My mother's home is 40 years old and has had plumbing problems. Three years ago, Columbus Water Works had to unplug the water pipes at the street level. Lately, after washing clothes and other times, waste comes up through tub. The pipes have been cleaned with snakes more than once and problem continues.

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Voted Best Answer

You can find a number of prior questions about replacing piping in houses, the water pipe to your house, and sewer pipes from the house to street which might give you some ballpark cost idea, but obviously the distances involved and whether your digging is easy or hard has a lot of bearing on the cost too.

Generally, interior piping and incoming water pipe is not replaced entirely except during major remodels on old houses when it is exposed by the remodel, if you have a lot of trouble with mineral buildup in the pipes (especially with galvanized steel), or if you are getting a lot of leaks.

The thing I always recommend before considering digging up your sewer pipe, unless you know it is collapsed one specific place and are just doing a spot repair, is to get it routed out full-length: from an upstairs toilet to outside the house past the cleanout, then from the cleanout just outside or just inside the foundation wall to the street - using a full-diameter scraper blade, NOT an auger snake. Then if during the cleaning there is reason to suspect (from the feel of the cable and how smoothly it feeds) that there is broken pipe or major root instrusion, do a COLOR camera run (B&W does not show enough detail) to see whether the issue is in one local spot, or indicative of general collapse, breaking, or erosion of the bottom of the pipe. When calling a sewer and drain contractor to do this (some larger plumbing shops also do it but most don't have the 100+ foot capable drain cleaning machines) make a deal for him to bring the camera in case you decide to do it, but at no cost if not used. The routing can run $250-400 range many times, camera run immediately afterwards if needed about $100-250 depending on area and length of run. Whole process can take 1-2 hours for the routing, 1/4-1/2 hour for the camera usually - can take longer for the routing if he has to pull out and put on a root cutting blade.

The problem with augers or snakes, with the pointed or twisted wire tips, is they can punch through a clog OK but commonly do not remove the full diameter of it, and do little to scour out the soap scum and grease that builds up in your sewer pipes over the years, especially if you put grease or greasy food down the sink drain. To get that out and restore the pipe to full diameter you need the scraping blade - which shouldtypically be done eery 10-20 years or so depending on your history of clogging and how much grease (bad) and hot water (good) you put down it.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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