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SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/12/20 7:35 p.m.

In reply to neverdone :

I don’t think anyone suggested an arbitrary change. 

Pretty sure the DEP will not approve a broken sewer line that is dumping raw sewage. 

golfduke
golfduke HalfDork
2/13/20 2:10 p.m.
SVreX said:

You are missing some big pieces to this puzzle. 

1- The green line... What’s the depth?  Are you sure she can’t tap into it?  You are assuming the sewer lines more or les follow the co tours of the surface at a consistent depth. They don’t. You can have a grade contour that is running uphill, while the sewer runs downhill. 

2- Even if the invert if the green line is too shallow for her to tie into, it would still be cheaper for her to install a sewage ejector pump and tie directly into it. 

3- The red manhole... That line definitely does not end there. It either ties into a main on the lower street, or turns the corner and rides the back of the property lines on the lower street. Manholes are not installed in straight run pipes. Manholes are where pipes turn. So, it’s likely it turns at the rear of those properties. If it does, then there are MUCH more than 3 properties on the line, and the Sewer Authority needs to make an accounting of them. 

4- What did the manhole say on it?  Did it say “Sewer”?  There is a possibility that’s not a sewer manhole. It could be a storm drainage manhole. In older communities sometimes they are cross-connected. 

Bottom line is still what I said earlier- It’s not her line. It’s not her property. Fixing it is not her responsibility. She should not put much effort or money into this. 

I think this is very well and logically put.  He is definitely correct in that home inspectors are not liable for any sewer/septic inspection beyond 'yup, it flushes and drains'.  In NH home transactions, there is actually a separate line item for sewer/septic inspection on the P&S contract.  Almost noone pays for one.   

My family is in the Septic/sewer business.  I showed them this thread (we're close), and they said that the green line is not your problem, and that either report it to your state Environmental Services dept that there's a raw sewage leak on a neighbors property that you can't fix legally.  They'll do the rest.  In NH at least, environmental services and effluent runoff into the ground is a very serious issue that they don't take lightly.  SInce it isnt on your property... you have no liability. 

If in extreme circumstance you need a solution before beaurocracy moves their hamster wheel, again like above, an ejector pump and uphill tie-in will be by far the cheaper option.  They're becoming very commonplace nationwide just because houses seemingly get jammed in all sorts of logistically-challenging locations. 

Good luck, but this shouldn't be her fight.  

Curtis73
Curtis73 MegaDork
2/13/20 7:50 p.m.

Lots to update after three days of plumbers and township people in and out.  First, SWMBO got a little emotional about how much help you have all put into this (I gave her the link so she could follow).  I think she gets it now... why I love you all so much and I won't shut up about GRM.

First, in answer to SVRex's question.  The green line is 6' down from the manhole on that side street.  The lowest point of her basement is (guessing) about 10' below that line (16' down from that side street).

So today was a very eventful day with a lot to report.  Plumbers came this morning armed with all the things.  They sent the camera down the line with the transmitter so someone outside could pinpoint where the line was underground.  Another person was in the manhole with a snake and a jet thingy.  As the camera operator was inspecting the tile on the way down, the jetter was working up.   The jetter encountered three clogs, and after several attempts, he got them cleared.

Once the clogs were clear, they ran the camera the whole way to the manhole.  The good news is, her tile drain is in excellent condition.  They saw no cracks, no roots, no breaks, no separations (other than the broken part at the manhole).  The other good news is that with the washing machine draining, two faucets on, and flushing the two toilets 3 times each revealed no backup, and they did all of this while the camera was still in the line to verify nothing was slowing down.

There is bad news, unfortunately.

A) it is not a party line.  She is the only one on it.  The manhole (for some insane reason) is ONLY there to connect HER house to the sewer.  My only guess is that there was a main located there and hers was the first property developed?  Then they let others build on lots that were over her line?  We're still not sure where the other houses drain, but hers is the only one that goes into that manhole.

B) the routing of her line is not on any easement, nor is it on any property lines.  I re-drew the picture to show you where her line goes after they used the transmitter/beeper thing.  It's whack.  It goes right through two back yards of her neighbors and terminates in a third back yard at the manhole in her flowerbed.

C) She still has to correct the broken coupling at the manhole, but they talked with the township and came up with an easier solution that involves less excavation.  The second picture shows how they did the original hookup (which was a new thing to me, but I'm not a sewer expert).  It has a tee that sends the sewage down before it goes in the manhole.  The upper (broken) line pictured earlier is technically the cleanout, but since it is broken it is still a raw sewage issue, and also potential for a clog.  Then the third picture shows the township's accepted solution which would require far less excavation.

Her actual mapped line in lime green (not exact of course):

Her current situation (not to scale):

The proposed solution.  This would only require about 3-4' of excavation and replacing a short section at the end instead of digging 8 or more feet to duplicate what they had done before.

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle SuperDork
2/13/20 8:13 p.m.

Fascinating. Here I am worried about how much I'll pay in taxes.. and E36 M3 like this happens. 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/13/20 8:19 p.m.

Sounds reasonably positive. 

Curtis73
Curtis73 MegaDork
2/13/20 8:23 p.m.

In reply to SVreX :

We thought so too.  We were concerned that the broken flange at the manhole was causing her backups, but it was 3 restrictions/clogs along the way.  For now, she can flush and do dishes and repair on her schedule instead of E36 M3ting in a bucket for a month and doing dishes with a garden hose.

This thread is invaluable though... she now has all kinds of information in case the tile does have a problem in the future, she now has the ammo to do research and be prepare for who has to fix it.

Stampie
Stampie UltimaDork
2/13/20 8:26 p.m.

I'm wondering how the house to her north (left looking at her house from the street) dumps it's sewage. While this might be a good solution for now what about long term?  I remember a case here where a dad and son lived next door to each other. Son's sewage ran through dad's yard. Years later both houses get sold and new neighbors hate each other. The son's old house ended up with no sewage and therefore was uninhibited for a long time until it was resolved. 

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones Reader
2/13/20 8:56 p.m.

That looks like a reasonable solution, I am still curious how she can be held responsible for something not on her property though. I don't think the property owner should get jammed with it either, it really seems like it should fall on the township. 

triumph7
triumph7 Reader
2/14/20 7:42 a.m.

Something else to consider is to have the property surveyed.  In the municipality that I just moved from a lot of the property lines were off... at the one house by about 3 feet and at the other by almost 15 feet! (A septic contractor told me that half of my garage was on a neighbors property)

In short, the sewer may be on her land.

Edit: posted before reading the second page.

klb67
klb67 Reader
2/14/20 8:17 a.m.

How do you know where the actual property lines are?  And how do you know there is not an easement?  Was there a subdivision plan filed?   The tax map online is only approximate and may not actually reflect the shape of the lot.   I wonder if there was supposed to be an alley between the houses that was never actually built.  That happens a lot in PA.   Also the suggestion of a holding tank, even temporarily, may be a no go - I've seen municipalities in PA ban any time of temporary holding tank (whether that's lawful to ban or not is a separate matter).   It does sound like the news isn't terrible.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
2/14/20 8:36 a.m.

Curtis, what is the town's opinion?

Curtis73
Curtis73 MegaDork
2/14/20 8:43 a.m.
klb67 said:

How do you know where the actual property lines are?  And how do you know there is not an easement?  Was there a subdivision plan filed?   The tax map online is only approximate and may not actually reflect the shape of the lot.   I wonder if there was supposed to be an alley between the houses that was never actually built.  That happens a lot in PA.   Also the suggestion of a holding tank, even temporarily, may be a no go - I've seen municipalities in PA ban any time of temporary holding tank (whether that's lawful to ban or not is a separate matter).   It does sound like the news isn't terrible.

The property lines on this map are accurate based on the pins we found in the street and a couple in yards.  Of course, when you overlay the satellite image, the potentially skewed picture doesn't overlay accurately.  I included the satellite image for your reference, but if you take away the satellite layer, the lines are accurate.  They would have to be off by 20 feet of more on a property that is only about 50' deep.

Put it this way... the pins in the street and the few that we found in yards put the property lines 20 feet or more away from her sewer line in some places.

There is no easement between the properties.  Multiple conversations with the township confirmed that.  The only "easement" is held with the state for the street in front of her house (15 ft from center of the pavement).

Curtis73
Curtis73 MegaDork
2/14/20 8:46 a.m.
914Driver said:

Curtis, what is the town's opinion?

We haven't really revealed our hand to the township other than calling them for easement info and someone coming out to open the manhole.  We need to get ducks in a row.  We might go to them and they say "we'll fix it next week, sorry for the inconvenience" or they might say "You need to fix that within one week or we'll fine you $10k for the hazmat."

Ducks.  They're important. 

Curtis73
Curtis73 MegaDork
2/14/20 8:55 a.m.
Steve_Jones said:

That looks like a reasonable solution, I am still curious how she can be held responsible for something not on her property though. I don't think the property owner should get jammed with it either, it really seems like it should fall on the township. 

This is one of those situations where there doesn't seem to be an applicable rule.  We do know this:

1- legally, her sewer connection must be put on her property if it were a new installation
2- she is responsible for her entire line to where it hooks to the municipality
3- she cannot be responsible for things off her property

#1 is out the window.  Either the contractor/builder just blatantly violated that rule (or that rule didn't exist yet), or it's also possible that the original property was several acres at one point and was all kosher before it was divided into several properties.  Again, if it was divided, it would have likely been in the 50s which is when most of those houses were built, and who knows what rules there were or if they were enforced.

#2 and #3 are in contradiction, so the rules don't really apply as far as ownership.  It's certainly not fair for her to have to dig up 200' of line that isn't on her property, and it's not fair to the neighbors to have their property destroyed in the process.

I think ethically, this is squarely the township's fault and they should fix it.  Someone back in the day seriously dropped the ball.  A whole bag of balls.  Where the line gets legally drawn is where we need to get ducks in a row.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/14/20 10:56 a.m.

That makes sense. 

Except #1 is misleading. There is a difference between her “connection”, and her “tap”. 

Most public sewer lines run under public easements, roads, alleys, etc. It’s not possible to “connect” to the sewer main on her property. 

In new construction, a sewer main is installed including Tees which stub out to the individual planned lots. These Tees are called sewer taps. A tap is in the public easement, and includes the stub outs to the individual properties.  The individual property connection would be to the stub outs already run to each lot. 

This only applies to new development. In older properties, new lot reconfigurations, etc, there is no stub out from the sewer main. These properties require a new “tap”, which is the connection to the main, and it generally happens in public easements. 

You are considering a “tap”, not a “connection”. 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
2/14/20 11:01 a.m.

... and you don’t want to do a new sewer tap if you can avoid it. They are expensive. 

The proposed diagram is the lowest cost route. But she should not have to pay for it. 

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