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Collapsed drain line

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: Oct 17 2006

HELP !!! I have just been told that one of the drain lines (located somewhere between my kitchen sink, my garage laundry sink, and my bedroom shower - all currently unsuable) has collapsed. They say a camera can't be used to find the exact location of the broken pipe because the drain lines are too small. So the plumbers are saying they will START jackhammering through the slab near the shower and continue till they find the broken pipe, repair the pipe, then pour new concrete. I asked about the radiant heat system and they said IF they hit it they will repair it. This sounds so goofy to me I can't believe this is how its done. Given the locations of the affected drains are each about as far apart as possible - this could lead to jackhammering up most of my house !!! How could there be ANY question that my radiant heat system will be involved. And how does one "repair" that ????!!!!! Please somebody give me some advise. Thanks.

Joined: Sep 16 2005

Perhaps a leak detector company could help find the bad spot in your drain pipes. I just had two leaks fixed in the heating system. It is not that bad...the only draw back is replacing the flooring and cost of it all. I do not think that I would let someone tear up my house with out checking with several plumers or other trades that may be able to help.
Good luck

Joined: Mar 24 2003

You've got a tough situation, no doubt, but your contractor is correct when he says that they can repair the radiant tubes if they hit them. When my bathroom was jackhammered to relocate our tub and toilet I saw them do just that. The radiant tubes are easily spotted once jackhammering begins, and when the drain is repaired they can fix any tubes that have been cut.

There's no reason you can't come out of this mess with a working radiant system.


Joined: Apr 2 2003

Well, I'm no plumber and that's for sure. However, if it were me, I would definitely get a second (and possibly a third) opinion. And I'd make sure the people I was talking to were licensed plumbers experienced with old homes (preferably Eichlers). And I don't mean Mr. Rooter or some such drain clearing outfit.

If your patience will stand it, I'd be interested in what the symptoms were that led you to call the plumbing company in the first place. And why they are sure it is a collapsed pipe rather than a stoppage (were they seeing a lot of mud in the backflow?).


eichfan at rawbw dot com

Joined: Jun 6 2006

We sent a camera and light fiber down our drain no problem, I don't think it was larger than 3/8" - 1/2" diameter. It had some sort of wireless probe that they then used a radio link to mark the slab right above it once located within the pipe. Granted, it has to be an obvious problem but it's worth a shot.

It's a bummer to have to jackhammer, but I'd strongly advise investing in some further assessments/verification by a specialist prior to cutting loose a jackhammer happy plumber.

And as others said; I'd have at least 3 bids by plumbers alone.

I'm sure there's many out there who specialize in this type of locating service.

- Mark

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