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Experiencing a Home Owners Nightmare.

Posted by steve jones on June 5th, 2000 04:52 PM

Been busy answering message board questions and keeping busy this week because I took a week and a half off from work to baby sit a major undertaking with my home. If I offended the Keiser in my post, then I do appologize and I learned a lesson to just leave it alone. My appologies.

Anyway, I bought this home 30 years ago. Its a 1400 square foot slab home. The pipes then were cast iron.

I am bringing this up just incase anyone out there is about to have this done and would like to hear about it.

I first noticed a problem when the AC was on. the condensation line going from the AC to the outside had some how broken and there was a huge wet spot in the carpet between the AC and the dump site. Again, we are on a slab.

I cut the 1 inch PVC line and put a 5 gallon bucket under the line so the AC would continue to work and the leak would not get worse. Sure enough the carpet dried and I knew we had problems.

About one week later I called the Insurance Agency and all sorts of engineers were called out and one company removed the toilet and sent down a small camera on a snake and took pictures of the piping all through the home. The monitor showed something that I could not believe, the iron pipes had no bottoms. They had completely rusted out. Some, very little water was actually making its way into the sewer line. The solids were but the water was just seeping in the ground.

One would ask why we did not see any wet spots around the foundation? Being in a severe drought, and the heat, it just evaporated and soaked in before it seeped to the outside of the foundation.

Since this is a pipe breakage, the insurance took care of all the costs except for our deductable and the cost of the PVC pipe. Deductible $250, PVC $500. The cost of all other services $15,000. Wow, we really felt very lucky.

Foundation engineers came out and did many water level tests and found that the wet soil had in deed caused a corner of the home to settle and break the slab. This would also be borne by the insurance company due to the cause again being by a broken pipe line.

The procedure is as follows: No work will be done on the inside of the home except to install a pump to drain out the condensation water from the AC.

All the rest would be done by a series of tunnels that would go under the home to the bathrooms, the sinks, the washer, and to the home cleanout pipe. In Texas foundation problems are rampet, and it is just too disruptive to have the foundation jack hammered from inside and cause weakening of the foundation by this activity. They have devised a method via tunnels to fix it out side.

Each tunnel is about 4 feet high and 4 - 5 feet wide. Enough room to get a torch and material under neath to disconnect the old lines and reconnect new PVC pipes and route it out. The old lines stay under the ground and are dead. The new lines come out the tunnel and circum the home and make a loop to tie up with the sewer line in the front yard.

This is called a complete re pipe.

Here is the neat part. The dirt from the tunnel itself is carted away and disposed of. When the pipe is set, the tunnel part is filled with sand and a chemical, the name escapes me, that when wet swells up and pushes up against the foundation where the tunnel was to give it back its support. This then hardens and does its job.

Then the massive hole along side the slab is back filled with the same dirt and compacted and re seeded.

I crawled into the longest tunnel to see the pipes and stuff and I was amazed. It reminded me of the 70's in Viet Nam. The tunnel was about 35 feet long and I could easily duck walk all the way to the problem. I could hit the pipe with my knife and it would scale off in sections.

The company brought out 12 laborers who specialized just in tunneling and did these three tunnels and the trenches to make the loop in just three days.

The plumber will come out tomorrow and connect all the lines and marry with the sever. I or we will be without water for just one day. Then the Tunnel TEch Company will come back out and set the sand, put back the dirt and make it look almost like new. We will be set.

We prided ourselves with our lawn, matter of fact, we won several years of best lawn in the neighborhood. Now we have mounds and mounds of smelly dirt and trenches all over the yard, front and back.

Will be glad to have this over with and to say, we were there and never again.

The plumber said that cast iron pipes are usually good for about 30 years max.

So, you can now see why I have been busy on the site helping people with their projects, getting into trouble also.

have a good day,


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