In today’s Real Estate Classroom, I want to tell you all about the amazing technology called “trenchless sewer lateral replacement.” Now, you might not think that sewer laterals are very exciting, but just wait!
First, a little information you need to know if you are going to buy or sell a home in the East Bay. A sewer lateral is the section of sewer drainage pipe that runs from the house to the City’s main sewer line, which is usually in the middle of the street. Most East Bay cities, including Berkeley and Oakland, have sewer lateral ordinances. You can learn more about those ordinances online at PSL.com, but in a nutshell, at the time of sale, the sewer line must be inspected and tested, and if the line fails the test, it must be repaired or replaced. I shot this video at one of my listings, to show you how an old clay sewer line gets replaced with a new polyethylene line, without having to dig a trench from the house to the street.
For any sewer job, my first choice is Pipespy. They show up on time, the crew is highly efficient and professional, and they leave a clean site.
The first thing that happens is the crew digs a hole, called the entry pit, at the spot where the sewer line exits the house. This hole does not need to be very deep, because the line is relatively shallow at this point. The exit pit, which is out at the street, is another matter. Because sewage flows by gravity from the house to the city’s main line, the connection at the street is quite deep.
Once the exit pit is complete, the crew can break out the old clay fitting.
Back at the entry pit, the crew feeds a video camera down the line to check for obstacles or line branches. Next they feed a heavy-duty metal cable through the line, and they attach this metal cable to a device called the bursting head.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the job site, the guys are cutting and joining the new sections of pipe. The new pipe is connected to the bursting head at the entry pit. new pipe is connected to the bursting head at the entry pit. The heavy- duty metal cable runs from the bursting head through the old clay pipe all the way to the exit pit, where it is threaded through the pulling machine. As this powerful machine pulls the bursting head through the line bit by bit, carrying the new pipe behind it, the old clay pipe is burst and the debris is pushed into the surrounding soil.
When the bursting head begins the emerge at the exit pit, the crew clears away any remnants of old pipe, and the bursting head is removed. To drive the pipe the final few feet, the guys take turns wailing on the other end with a sledge hammer. It’s hard work.
When the new pipe is clear, it gets connected to the city main, the entry and exit pits are back-filled, and the concrete and asphalt surfaces are carefully restored. After Pipespy cleans up the site, it’s hard to tell anything happened here – and I can get on with the work of selling the house.
So, now you know all about trenchless sewer lateral replacement. What else would you like to know? For answers to all of your burning questions (about real estate), just send me an email, or go to the real estate classroom section of my website.