Saturday, October 24, 2009

Adventures in Sewer

Last Friday hubba and I were both home and finally feeling well so we started some serious unpacking. It was that afternoon that I took some items to the store-room in the basement and noticed a strong "musty" odor. I told my husband about it and headed to town to address my growing list of required supplies.

He called a little while later to inform me it was not a "musty" odor but that there had been a flood and there was "black stuff everywhere."

Long story short: the flood came from the shower drain and had occurred sometime within the previous 10 days. We spent our romantic Friday evening at home removing carpet and scouring the bathroom. Thankfully there is a 24-hour super store close by so we did not have to dig a latrine in the middle of the night.

Our neighbor, the plumber, lent us his wet-dry vac for the night and came over Saturday morning to help us solve our problem.

After a while of looking for the sewer clean-out outside and rooting through a couple of the drains in the basement he called a buddy who came out to feed a camera through our lines. They discovered a broken fitting that was full of tree roots. Now this part is magic to me. They decided the fitting was close to the apple tree in the front yard and that's where they would dig. Here's the magic part... that's exactly where the problem was.

This missing clean-out was under the apple tree... about a foot under-ground. The tree had grown (or was planted) so close to the clean-out that it pushed it down enough to break the sewer line at the fitting. With the broken sewer line, the tree was able to find the moisture and roots into the pipe.
We had our washer and dryer delivered a little over a week before we discovered the back-up. So we think the flood happened then because I did about 10 loads of laundry in quick succession.
We called a professional cleaning service to remediate the damage in the basement. They came out on Saturday to assess and offered us a couple of scenarios. We opted for the do-it-during-regular-business-hours option. There was mold and it's impossible to know how big the problem is until you start opening walls. They sealed off the area and took samples for asbestos testing.

The tests came back negative and the destruction began on Wednesday afternoon. They removed 1-2 feet of dry wall across the entire flood zone. The mold was quite extensive in some areas and the steel wall studs are rusted in the same areas. This indicates there has also been a long-term leak from the shower.
In addition to the drywall, the crew removed and hauled away the bathroom door, jam, vanity, toilet, shower door, tile, carpet and padding.

All that remains is to finish removing the apple tree, trim the clean-out a little closer to the ground and add clean-outs to the basement bathroom.

Hubba and I have decided to leave the basement as it is until we have completed the remodel we have planned for the main floor. It would be a shame to repair the basement then have to open it up again to correct anything else we might run into.
If you're in Northern Colorado I highly recommend Advance Plumbing Services of Loveland and SERVPRO of Fort Collins. Both companies were incredibly professional, helpful and down-right nice to work with.

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