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  • Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

    I have a question for the pros on this thread who live in, or are experienced with sewer freezeups.

    Problem: Customer sewer freezes up within days of when they leave for Florida for the winter. If someone occupies the house and runs water the sewer does not freeze up.

    The picture:

    The long red line from the street to the #1 is the original lateral sewer. It's ~ 250' long, and is completely constructed of 4" soil cast iron.

    The short red line from the original lateral sewer to the #2 is a sewer to a bathroom addition. This sewer lateral section is SCH 40 pvc.

    The short red line from the original lateral sewer to the #3 is a sewer to a 1/2 bath powder room. This lateral section is SCH 40 ABS.

    The yellow section from the original lateral sewer to the #4 is technically not sewer since it's under a new garage (black outline), and runs into a new 3/4 bath located about where the 4 is. The yellow section is sch. 40 pvc. I located a cleanout in the garage at the corner where the new bathroom takeoff is.

    The depth of the sewer is shallow. Frost footings here in Minnesota are required to be 42" deep at this location in the State. The sewer at the point where the yellow lateral sewer (#4) ties into the main lateral is about 29" deep if memory serves. I can measure at the clean out again, but the number is pretty close. The sewer where it enters the house is about 18" deep. (From memory... this may be off a few inches, I'll double check)

    The grade of the property is such that there's a several foot drop from the road to the house. Thus, as the sewer rises as we approach the house, the ground drops down to meet the house. The subsoil seems to consist primarily of clay, and rocks.

    The distance between the sewer where it leaves the house @ #1 to the cleanout in the garage from the #4 lateral is about 85'. Then it's another 160' or so to the main sewer.

    The sewer normally freezes up in two spots. Spot #1 is about 25' South of the new garage under the driveway towards the road. Spot #2 is between the house and garage, about 15' North of where the sewer goes under the garage. This is primarily concrete sidewalk.

    The sewer has relatively little snow cover since it's under the driveway as it leaves the garage, and the driveway is plowed regularly.

    There is a sewage ejector that discharges into the original sewer @ #1. There's a furnace that discharges condensate all winter into the pit, and the pump, of course, pumps it to the sewer when the pit fills up.

    The sewer has relatively little pitch, and there are several bellies in the sewer. Where the sewer leaves the garage there's a 25' long belly where the standing water is 1-1/2" or more based on the video. There's also a belly between the garage and the house.

    My suggestion was to move the driveway so that a couple of additional feet of groundcover, plus snow could be provided to the sewer after it's left the garage. This idea was rejected by the homeowner.

    I've also suggested trying to run a completely new sewer and remove the bellies. I think the pipe should be bedded in at least a foot of pea gravel to minimize the heaving that occurs. Although I think if the sewer ditch is surrounded by clay for the most part, the effectiveness of the gravel will be somewhat diminished.

    I've suggested having someone live in the house, to basically housesit as potentially the cheapest option, but so far that hasn't happened.

    In Minnesota if the plumbing can drain gravity it must drain by gravity. Although I think we could make an argument for a deeper forced main.

    Any digging up of the sewer will result in the driveway being dug up. Portions of the brand new garage being dug up, and portions of stamped concrete being dug up. Very costly and the homeowner doesn't want to spend the $$$. Also, some very nice trees will be destroyed. At least one 100 year old oak.

    I'm curious what would you guys suggest as possible solutions?
    Attached Files
    Time flies like an arrow.

    Fruit flies like a banana.

  • #2
    Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

    Could you do a pipe pull or standard trench of a water line beside the sewer and circulate hot water through it?

    J.C.
    Last edited by BobsPlumbing; 02-23-2010, 08:35 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

      <Could you do a pipe pull or standard trench of a water line beside the sewer and circulate hot water through it?

      J.C.>

      Now that is an interesting suggestion. Pull two lines to create a return loop. We can hire Rick to come out and jet bore the lines. Ready for a road trip Rick?
      Time flies like an arrow.

      Fruit flies like a banana.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

        I think the only real fix is replacement to get rid of the bellies. I am not sure if tunneling would be an option to go under concret areas.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

          pipe the condensate out on the ground, or into a big bucket for a test.

          shut water to house off on departure. flush all toilets, holding handle down until tank empty. dump ~20 gal window washer fluid into system as last thing (or flush rock salt).

          run ~200 gal hot water before anything else on return.

          try that once and see.
          Last edited by Ace Sewer; 02-24-2010, 11:23 AM.
          This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

          Comment


          • #6
            does this drain handle surface water?

            i'm with ace here. i would just run condensate out to the yard. can be hooked back up to drain in spring. i put a heat tape in one for a customer. he wanted that. i also had a customer who on my advice put a fantech fan on the vent on a comm job where line was very shallow under alley. it was at least as long as this one. fan pulled warm air up vent to atmosphere. fan may or may not meet code. idk. but it will work to keep line warm. fan was in a hvac shop. they were open and got tired of jetting line. breid...............

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

              I like the fan idea Breid. I'm sure, somehow it violates some kind of code
              but thats a good idea to get through the frost season and dig in spring (like a HO would ever do that if it works).

              If used in this situation: Vegetable oil in traps to keep them from going dry??
              Last edited by Gene Bickford; 02-24-2010, 01:16 PM.
              INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
              Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

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              • #8
                Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

                They make in-line heat trace for water lines. Very expensive.
                or maybe even gutter/roof heat tape.

                Could put it in during the winter since no solids are being flushed.
                INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
                Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

                  You guys are coming up with some good ideas. I've already come up with some of them. The window washing fluid is a great idea. We've already put down 20 gallons of antifreeze, and the window washing fluid is much more economical.

                  There is an outfit that makes a freeze protection line. http://www.nofrozenpipes.com/index.php It would cost about $2k for the appropriate cable for this sewer. This may be the solution because I don't see the homeowner redoing the sewer. I just know who's going to get stuck taking it out every spring.

                  There is also a fan solution where a fan blows warm air down the sewer. I discarded that website because it's clearly not legal in Minnesota code.

                  I had thought of running the condensate outside for the winter but know it will freeze up after the first discharge. I hadn't considered running heat tape for it because it's not inexpensive and doesn't really solve the root cause of the problem. The owner does come back in the winter from time to time to take care of business so it would be best if the sewer can be open. But the heat tape on the condensate line is a good idea!
                  Time flies like an arrow.

                  Fruit flies like a banana.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

                    Originally posted by Birddoggiest View Post
                    I think the only real fix is replacement to get rid of the bellies. I am not sure if tunneling would be an option to go under concret areas.

                    Bingo. I don't think boring or tunneling is appropriate because we need to install a serious bed of pea stone under the sewer to minimize heaving. I think that's the reason for the bellies.
                    Time flies like an arrow.

                    Fruit flies like a banana.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

                      Good idea to ask your insurance company if they will cover you installing heat tape. Mine won't, they say it needs to be installed by an Electrician
                      INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
                      Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

                        I thawed out the sewer with a General 1450 I bought on eBay. The ice plug was 20 some feet long.
                        Time flies like an arrow.

                        Fruit flies like a banana.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Freezing sewer. Suggestions?

                          Originally posted by Ace Sewer View Post
                          pipe the condensate out on the ground, or into a big bucket for a test.

                          shut water to house off on departure. flush all toilets, holding handle down until tank empty. dump ~20 gal window washer fluid into system as last thing (or flush rock salt).

                          run ~200 gal hot water before anything else on return.

                          try that once and see.
                          I was thinking about using the window washing fluid. The main component is methanol. This is alcohol, doesn't alcohol evaporate? I'm not sure how long this will sit in the bellies in the sewer.

                          I'm going to get about 20 gallons of RV antifreeze and dump it in the sewer and be done with it. (Oh, and get a condensate pump and run that condensate line outside, and run heat tape where I have to.)
                          Time flies like an arrow.

                          Fruit flies like a banana.

                          Comment

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