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  • Really clogged sewer lines

    I live in Kananga, DR Congo. Yes Africa. Through 50 years of total neglect our entire storm sewer system is blocked, mainly by dirt and sand with plastic bags mixed in for good measure. Our lines are all concrete varying in diameter from 6" to 3'. I'm talking 25 miles of blockage with sections up to 200'. What I'm looking for is a way to drill through the blockage and then run a cable through the hole with shovel like attachments to clear out the heavy stuff. We don't have the money to import a truck with high pressure jets to do the job. So, on the cheap for equipment but labor costs no limit. Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Really clogged sewer lines

    you better hope that bill gates is reading our forum

    from your description, how do you personally know the severity of the line?

    of course the 3' lines can be dug out or a bucket machine can be used. the issue is how do you know how bad it is and how did you let it get this bad?

    you will need the army corp of engineers to replace or repair that line. 25 miles is beyond my imagination of a stoppage. if it's just 200' sections, then a jetting truck running upstream is your best bet.

    any pictures would be a great way to understand your situation.

    rick.
    phoebe it is

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    • #3
      Re: Really clogged sewer lines

      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
      you better hope that bill gates is reading our forum

      from your description, how do you personally know the severity of the line?

      of course the 3' lines can be dug out or a bucket machine can be used. the issue is how do you know how bad it is and how did you let it get this bad?

      you will need the army corp of engineers to replace or repair that line. 25 miles is beyond my imagination of a stoppage. if it's just 200' sections, then a jetting truck running upstream is your best bet.

      any pictures would be a great way to understand your situation.

      rick.
      I'll get some photos online soon. How did it get this bad? 50 years of no and I mean no maintenance. Recently they have dug up sections doing serious damage requiring replacing half the pipes. Looking into the sections I saw little damage except what they did and mostly just packed dirt and sand in the pipes. The guy in charge is soon to be dismissed, thankfully, since he for Lord knows what reason believes you should start at the highest point and work down. Problem is he's never reached an outlet and so he does the same 30 meters year after year and does nothing more than build temporary cisterns. My thinking is to penetrate just to get a cable though from one manhole to the next. Laborers are paid $5/day here so we can afford to finish manually, in fact that would be good to create some jobs. What I need is a flexible horizontal drill good to 200'.

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      • #4
        Re: Really clogged sewer lines

        You need the biggest Pressure Washer you can get your hands on and start downstream to get it going,also since you have cheap labor start putting in cleanouts at 100' to size the job down to a manageable system.
        Seattle Drain Service

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        • #5
          Re: Really clogged sewer lines

          Doubt the dragline idea will work.

          Jetting is the best process I know of for sand/dirt. You need at least 20gpm for the bigger pipe.

          DON'T send men into the pipe to dig it out by hand. Suffocation and drowning are real dangers.

          You need a real budget; it's too big a job to ever get done well cheaply.
          This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

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          • #6
            Re: Really clogged sewer lines

            So, can you recommend the pressure system?

            Most of the cleanouts are less than 50 ft apart. The extremely long ones can wait, there's certainly enough to do for a while yet with the shorter 8" to 12"dia sections. They're also the largest in diameter and I hope that the blockage doesn't extend the length of the pipe, maybe we'll get lucky.

            Thanks

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            • #7
              Re: Really clogged sewer lines

              proximity of water supply to cleanouts?

              flow rate/supply capability of water supply?

              In the US, with typical water pressures and a hose bib on a 1/2" supply, you are doing pretty well to get 6 gpm (gallons per minute).

              As a rough rule of thumb, you want a jetter with gpm ~ diameter of pipe in inches, ie 4" pipe = 4gpm, 10" pipe = 10gpm. Smaller can be made to work but it takes more care and more time to do a good job.

              From what I gather about your situation, you have up to 36" pipe. That is large pipe and while it may well be 10" deep in muck, I doubt its fully clogged.

              Given your budgetary considerations, I think you'll want to buy the highest flow rate jetter you can afford to bring in so that you have a chance of doing some good in the larger lines. If you go higher than 6gpm (around here, your situation may be different) you'll need to run it off of a tank as a direct hose supply will not keep up. So proximity to water is still important because if you have, say, a 20gpm machine with a 500 gallon tank, you get 25 minutes of jetting before you have to fill up the tank again. If that means 4 miles back to the hose bib and an hour to fill up, that's no good. Are there fire hydrants you can use?

              Consider what percentage of your lines are above a given diameter, what your budget is, how clogged the larger ones really are, and if you really need capability for the largest ones.

              At any rate, I would suggest at least 12gpm. That'll do 10"-12" nicely and give you a prayer of at least improving things in the larger ones.

              200' is not a long section by the way. What IS going to be difficult is that you pretty much need to work up the system from the bottom and pull the sand and dirt down and out to where you can remove it. If you are working from cleanouts, not manholes, and can't collect and remove the junk at each access point, then you will be pulling the debris from upper sections down into ones you've already got working as you go, and you'll have to go back and redo sections over and over as you move up the system. Some strategic digs to make collection spots might be warranted.

              I suggest you start with a map of the system, laying out distances, access points (and types), line diameters, proximity to water, and guestimates of flow rates for the water supplies. You want the most capability you can get from the limited $ you can spend on equipment, and you need to understand your needs to maximize that capability.

              There are a lot of considerations and it's hard for me to say what is best for you because I don't know what infrastructure that I take for granted in the US would not be available to you, or how yours might differ in other ways from what I'm used to.

              Fuel availability and cost? You are going to burn a bunch of fuel running the jetter.
              This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Really clogged sewer lines

                I do not know the availability to water or what else you have,

                do they have a fire truck? a jettier is a excellent way to go, but you may do good if you have a lot of gallons and some pressure, even if one has to thread short sections of pipe together to make the distance,

                we at one time jetted under side walks and drive ways with a 3/4" pipe and what is called a sweep nozzle, it is just a straight nozzle that has has a 1/4 hole in the end of it, like the old straight fire nozzle, (as in the picture below) it was attached ot a pipe and the pipe to a garden hose and about 40 psi pressure.

                even a garden hose and 1/2 piece of pipe on the end, will drill/jet in earth fairly good until you hit rocks, if you work for some time you will wash out the dirt around smaller rocks and can move the rock aside,

                now if you had a fire truck with even a 50 gallon a minute pump on it even and could stick a section of 1" to 1 1/4" pipe in sections up the drain and when you get to the blockage turn that puppy on and you would most likely jet in to that mud and blockage, with even 50 to 100 PSI,you may have to come up with some type of clamp to hold the pipe in the man hole to advance it but even if you get 2 to 3 foot at a time and you will need a lot of water to wash the debris out of the pipe, you could experiment with some different nuzzles, with back jets like the jetters some time use, but they could be made out of a section of heavy wall or some pipe reducers and nipples and pipe cap and a drill, or pipe cap, (or if some one has a metal lath and some heavy wall pipe). a reduce a short nipple and then a reducer to back to the original size, and then a plug or nipple and cap, drill a jet in the cap and on the back side of the reducer closest to the end cap, >--< ]

                the other Idea I was toying with was that of a borzit,
                http://www.borzit.com/ or similar it is a boring tool that uses water and a drill to work through the soil to bore under the slabs but 50 foot would be pushing it,
                there is a company called porta mole that is a gasoline powered unit and they have a culvert cleaner, http://www.portamole.com/c.html
                but I do not know how one would use it in a man hole as the unit uses stiff pipe for the drill stem, the borzit does to but one can use short pieces of pipe and keep extending them, if one could come up with a hydraulic motor to power it it would be safer than trying to use a electric drill in a man hole
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                Last edited by BHD; 09-08-2010, 11:17 PM.
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                • #9
                  Re: Really clogged sewer lines

                  fire truck is a good idea
                  This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Really clogged sewer lines

                    Ideas, great ideas, that's what I needed.

                    Water, I live in a city with the distinction of being the world's largest without running water and electricity 24/7, so no, no hydrants. What is available are diesel powered pumps with 3" outlets, I'll check the capacity soon.

                    I'm thinking out loud now. 3' long 1" threaded galvanized pipe with a home made nozzle attached to a fire hose getting water from the pump. I do have access to a lathe, in fact that's one of the subjects I teach, one nozzle for straight in and another with side holes to act as a reamer for larger diameters. Rebar to guide the hose up the line. Clean-outs do have traps so bulk of heavy stuff can be bucketed out. Two water trailers, one in use one in transport. Delay time used to bail out collection pits.

                    Sound like a plan?


                    BTW, people in these parts call me eccentric for choosing to live here, not crazy. I'm proud of the distinction. I'm an ex-Peace Corps '79-'82 who up and decided to come back 6 years ago.

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