Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

When we’re asking discovery questions of our clients trying to get a better understanding of how the plumbing is laid out, we often ask:  “Do you happen to know where the sewer cleanout is?”  The perplexed response we often get is:  “What’s a cleanout?” 

6TH CO

It’s important to know where this little gem of a cap in your main 4″ drain leading out of the house is.  Sometimes they’re outside the building foundation.  Other times they’re hidden inside walls, behind or next to washing machines, at the base of an old cast iron soil stack in the basement, behind a toilet, or inside crawl spaces (as illustrated in the picture above).

In the septic world (homes with onsite wastewater systems); rather than city sewer, we often hear them referred to as “pump-outs” which isn’t correct.  A septic tank cannot be pumped out from the cleanout.  The septic tank lid needs to be exposed  and opened up for or pumping.  A cleanout is simply an access point to the line itself for servicing.   i.e. snaking, jetting, or video inspection. 

Regardless of what you want to call it; make sure it’s readily accessible for servicing or access in the time of an emergency back-up.  Keep it exposed– Prevent covering it up with drywall, plumbing other fixtures into it, building decks over it, planting shrubs (especially thorny ones) around it, or piling storage boxes or other obstructions in the way of it.  These tips will save you time, money, and give you peace of mind in the event the sewer or septic lateral needs immediate servicing.

Have questions regarding your homes sanitary infrastructure?  Call us at:  (208) 818-8241.

 

Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, or to schedule an inspection, contact us at: 208.818.8241

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There’s a common misconception that we’ve heard multiple times from real estate buyers as well as Realtors.  “The property has a septic system and the tank was pumped and inspected, so we don’t or won’t need your services.”  While it’s very important and common practice prior to a real estate transaction to have the septic tank pumped; the interior of the tank inspected, as well as the inlet and outlet baffles of the tank inspected, it’s also extremely important to inspect other components of the system.  Especially the piping between the house and the tank as well as the drainfield if it’s accessible (which can be made accessible with a little digging).

Below is an inspection report we recently completed for a home that was just listed on the MLS for Hayden, Idaho.  The seller knew he had some type of problem because of continual back-ups.  The tank had been pumped and “INSPECTED” recently and the owner was told that they (the pumping company) “thought he needed a new drainfield”.  Likewise, other “plumbers” had been out to snake the line and speculated on what could be wrong.  His listing agent recommended that he call us for a second opinion and have the line(s) scoped.  We decided to start small.  No sense in digging everything up and charging him for things that may or may not be needed.  So we started by scoping the line between the house and the tank and we agreed to progress with digging up the outlet and scope the drainfield also if it was deemed necessary for further investigation.  The video inspection (sewer scope) of the line between the house and the tank however, revealed a very common problem.  The line was “bellied out” i.e., had a low spot right before going into the inlet of the tank.   So approximately 5′ of pipe needed to be replaced.  No big deal.  It was digitally located and we determined the depth of the line was only 2′ deep.  Thus; a stick of pipe, a plumber with a shovel, and a couple hours, it was fixed.  Moral of the story:  Out of Sight, Out of Mind.  The out of state seller; without doing further research and his own due diligence, AND without the fantastic Broker Denise Lundy of Fortus Realty on his side, could have easily pulled the trigger over the phone on a new drainfield, spent thousands of dollars, and still had a problem.  Need a second opinion?  Call us at:  208-818-8241.  SPY before you BUY.  LOCATE before you DIG.

sample report1

 

 

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Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, or to schedule an inspection, contact us at: 208.818.8241

Our primary purpose is to inspect, report, and consult on the internal condition of sanitary infrastructure – During our inspections however, we often run into other common plumbing problems that you should look out for when purchasing a home.  Take a close look at this picture of the plumbing at this home in Spirit Lake, Idaho and read our comments below.  1091860_594352073936214_328369133_n

The 2″ stack of piping that we’ve pointed out on the right is for a laundry discharge. You’ll notice how high it is. Because of the elevation of the main 4″ sewer leaving the foundation wall. Someone has improperly added the laundry hook ups. It’s way too high. You’d basically be using the washing machine as a pump. The pump in a washing machine is not designed to lift that high.  This puts undue stress on the washing machine shortening its lifespan.  The appropriate solution would be to add a plastic laundry tub to drain the washing machine; that would drain to a sump pump, then the sump pump would eject the grey water to the 4″ sewer. Another problem is that if the sewer ever backs up, the first place it will go is into your washing machine (and that’s just gross).  When we do find a problem as such during an inspection, we strongly encourage buyers to seek additional recommendations from a licensed professional plumber.

If you have any questions regarding the sanitary infrastructure of your home or a home you’re considering purchasing, don’t hesitate to give us a call.  Phone calls are always free!

Spy before you BUY, Locate before you DIG!

Give yourself peace of mind! Call us at: 208-818-8241.

Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, or to schedule an inspection, contact us at: 208.818.8241

 

Our clients, potential clients, and real estate professionals often ask: What percentage of sewer lines actually have problems? Our answer: Well it depends on the age, but typically a home with a sewer lateral installed prior to 1970 is rarely free of some type of defect (nearly 100% have at least a minor problem).  While moderate problems exist in approximately 80% of sewer laterals, and severe problems existing in nearly 50% of the lines we inspect.

With new construction, it’s’ rare to find a problem. When we do however, it is typically moderate to severe (i.e. breaks or cracks from poor installation; as well as rock, gravel, test balloons, or other construction debris).

Inflatable test balloon broken off in new construction sewer – Hayden, Idaho

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Watch some of our inspection videos and see for yourself. Have more questions?  Give yourself peace of mind! Call us at: 208-818-8241.

Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, you may contact us at: 208.818.8241


Before you buy a property …
Get to know what’s underground

  • Sewer laterals are the pipe that connects a building’s plumbing to the city-maintained sanitary sewer main. The sewer main carries wastewater from your lateral to the city’s treatment facilities.
  • In most cities, property owners are responsible for repair and maintenance of their private sewer laterals (the sewer line between the house and the street) – City of Coeur d’Alene – (13.12.037: RESPONSIBILITY FOR INDIVIDUAL SEWER LATERALS:  The lot owner is responsible for maintenance and replacement as necessary for the private sewer lateral that connects a dwelling or business to the connection (TEE) at the public sewer main including any necessary maintenance and/or replacement within the public rights of way and public utility easements. Any work within the public rights of way or public utility easements must be approved by the city engineer or his/her designee prior to the commencement of work. (Ord. 3097 §8, 2003)  
  • Residential and commercial buildings constructed prior to 1980 are likely to have laterals made of clay or bituminous fiber (tar paper, aka Orangeburg) pipes. These can crack, break, collapse, shift out of place, and be subject to root intrusions or low spots causing leakage or blockage in the pipe.
  • When your sewer lateral has a blockage, sewage from your home can back-up in your pipes and surface through your sinks, toilets, bathtubs and other building drains, causing serious health issues and a potentially expensive mess. Sewer lateral blockages are typically caused by failures in the pipe. Failures can be easily detected by a simple video inspection of the lateral before they cause a serious problem.
  • Rainwater and groundwater that gets into the sanitary sewer system from leaky sewer laterals, and roof and foundation drains can cause overflows of untreated or partially treated wastewater (sewage or effluent) into streets, homes, businesses and local lakes, rivers, streams, and the aquifer. This rainwater and groundwater should be directed to the public storm water system.
  • Just as rainwater or groundwater can leak into a sewer lateral, sewage can also leak out of the sewer lateral polluting our lakes, streams, and aquifer, becoming a public health hazard.
  • If you know the condition of your property’s sewer lateral; you can better prepare for repair, replacement, or maintenance, make a more educated buying decision, or gain valuable negotiation room in a purchase contract, or simply gain peace of mind.

 

Do your part to avoid these

problems and prevent pollution

of our lakes, streams, and

aquifer…


Steps you can take

  • Ask the current property owner if they have had any issues with slow draining plumbing fixtures, toilets, sewage backups, or have ever performed any inspections or repairs.
  • Look for clues as to whether a back-up has occurred in the past.
  • Look for stains or water marks around basement floor drains
  • Look for plastic caps on cast iron clean outs
  • Look for stickers from rooter companies around the house
  • Look for damage to sidewalks and driveways from trees
  • Look for darker patches or discolored grass, or places that appear to have been excavated
  • Look for damage to sidewalks from tree roots
  • Hire an unbiased sewer lateral inspection company to perform a video inspection of the sewer lateral

 

But Can I afford a sewer

inspection?

The truth is… you can’t afford NOT to!



Sewer lateral repairs or replacement can be extremely expensive averaging $5,000 to $15,000. Typically it will come as a surprise to property owners when sewage starts coming out of sinks, toilets, bathtubs and other drains. Property owners should plan for sewer lateral maintenance and repair just as they do for other major working systems of the building or residence.
To protect the value of your investment and avoid the surprises associated with costly repairs; we recommend inspecting a building’s sewer lateral every 3-5 years, and/or prior to purchasing the property. Even a sewer lateral in new construction can be prone to breaks or problems if proper care to bed the pipe was not taken during installation. Likewise; rocks, gravel, and other construction debris, is often found in newly installed sewer laterals.  Finding these problems before the warranty expires may save you thousands of dollars in repairs or maintenance.

 

 

Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, you may contact us at: 208.818.8241

It’s not all dirty

Check out our page here:  http://pinterest.com/lateralconcepts/

 

Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, you may contact us at: 208.818.8241

You’re empty nesters, children grown and gone, semi-retired, embarking on a lifelong dream to move from Colorado to North Idaho.  You purchase a gorgeous property overlooking Lake Pend Oreille in one of the most spectacular places in the country.  Your dream is now reality.  Ahh the simple life you exclaim while holding your wife tight.  This has been years in the making.  Excited about the endless opportunity for recreation and relaxation, the overwhelming joy and heartfelt exuberance is contagious to the people you engage.

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Unfortunately, a trip to the bathroom yields yet again, less than desirable results.  This has happened more than once.  The initial snaking of the drain wasn’t a remedy, but temporary relief at best.  As the sewage backs up suddenly the thought of losing your dream puts a damper on your bliss.  After all the research you’ve done, you know well and sure that a failed leach field can be incredibly expensive to repair or replace.  Over dinner; and through your faith, you say a farcical prayer that the septic system problem is of minimal expense, and that you can continue your dream of living the simple life of retirees in this awesome new place you call home.

Time to call in an expert.  A Google search for septic video inspection reveals a possible answer to your prayer.  Lateral Concepts, LLC.  Reading further, you discover the numerous reviews and recommendations.  One from your Realtor that you’ve come to respect and befriend.  A quick phone call and you’re on your way to an honest discovery of the real problem.  Turns out the previous owner had built a magnificent fountain gracing the back yard.  A large spike driven to hold the footing has pierced the septic line.  As it catches solids and debris, back-ups are inevitable.  Digital location and depth of the problem area assures you that it’s a repair you can easily handle yourself.  And an inexpensive one at that!  Here’s to the glorious days you’ve dreamed about…  retired in Idaho!

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“Can’t tell you how much stress you reduced in our lives. Leslie and I were living in real fear of maybe losing our dream as we knew we could not afford to fix a leach field. Just so great to know what it is. I gave your card to a friend today and he is a builder and said he would definitely use you in the future!”

All the best,
Hart – Hope, ID

Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, or to schedule an inspection, contact us at: 208.818.8241

Lateral Concepts, LLC is a locally owned and operated business in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We provide unbiased sewer and septic lateral video inspections and locates in and around North Idaho, Spokane, and Eastern Washington. For more information, you may contact us at: 208.818.8241