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  1. #1
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Deck Footer Gone Awry

    I had the worst day today from a home improvement standpoint.

    Here's the scenario. We live in a 110 year old brick twin, Back in 2001, we had our entire sewer line replaced from the basement out to the end of the yard (close to 200 feet). The old line ran underneath our rear patio at the right-hand rear corner of the house and was sealed off (or so I thought) when the new line was installed along the left-hand side of the yard (20 feet away). Fast forward to today. I am replacing the crappy wooden steps and landing we have out back with an L-shaped deck. I got started on the footers today and everything was going fine until I got to digging the 3rd and final footer. This footer was going right where the old sewer line ran. I knew the old terra cotta line was still down there so when I got to it, I just broke right through it because it's no longer in use..........WRONG. It's not in use by us but it is in use by out attached neighbor. I got the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach once I confirmed it was our neighbors sewer line and saw water build up in the footer hole after I ran some water in her house. I had my wife make some calls while I continued to dig around the broken sections and she was able to locate a local plumber who came out this evening and temporarily got our neighbor hooked back up. The fix is just for tonight and he's going to come back tomorrow and put the proper 6" pipe in. What a friggin' nightmare.

    Take a look at these pics. In the 3rd one, look at direction our neighbor's sewer line comes from......beneath my house. It's a total clusterf*ck. Somewhere after the neighbor's main sanitary stack goes into the floor in her basement, it angles over and runs beneath our basement floor. Her entire sewer line lateral is on our property. It turns out that before we had our sewer line replaced in 2001, we shared the same sewer line with the neighbor. The plumbers who replaced our line in 2001 left the original terra cotta lateral in place and our neighbor has experienced no problems. It seems it was common when these houses were built to run the sewer lines this way, probably to save money on the installation. Ugh.

    When it comes to old houses, take nothing for granted. When I started digging the footers, our son said to me "maybe you'll hit water". Talk about a prophecy.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Nick Ostrowski
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    Join Date: Mar 2007
    Location: Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
    Posts: 2,343


    Re: This morning's hand rail
    That's life in the land of old houses for you.
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    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Tell me about it Billy.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    .
    .
    Tell me about it Billy.
    .
    .
    Well,

    It could have been Electrical.
    .

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Philadelphia PA
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    As Homer Simpson might say, "D'oh!".

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Nick, sounds like you're getting sh*t from your neighbors.

    The plumber can just cut a chunk out of your footer for the sewer line. They do that all the time anyway.

    Billy, when bears start stealing copper, it's time to head for the bomb shelters, eh?

    Last edited by John Kogel; 06-05-2011 at 08:03 PM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Our neighbor was actually very calm about the whole thing, thankfully.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  8. #8
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    Nov 2010
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    Safety Harbor, FL
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Nick,
    Watch some of the Holmes Inspection episodes on HGTV, talk about nightmares with older homes. Recently he devoted two episodes to one house which was 120 years old which had extensive damage due to the way the house was built.


  9. #9
    MARVIN TOWNSEN's Avatar
    MARVIN TOWNSEN Guest

    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Billy, when bears start stealing copper, it's time to head for the bomb shelters, eh?[/quote]

    So sad to see a good bear go bad, thats why you dont give bears crack


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    New Westminster, B. C., Canada
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Hi, ALL &

    * Nothing personal, Nick, but:

    When we just 'assume' things & take 'em for granted - outcomes can make an a** out of you (as that saying goes).

    Life is so often a hard teacher...


    Good Luck with the Deck project, otherwise &


    CHEERS

    -Glenn Duxbury, CHI

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Thanks for those super words of wisdom Glenn.

    CHEERS

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    I see it as just a bad luck scenario. Too bad the plumber who fixed your sewer didn't inform you that there was another sewer line down there, that was still the old terra cotta. Good question, why did he let you think that the pipe was no longer in use?

    I had an inspection for one side of a duplex. I had done the left side the year before, so I took a look at the pics from that side. OK, the sellers had had the septic tank opened up and pumped for the new owners, my clients. So when I check the backyard of the other side, for my new clients, there's no sign of a septic tank or field, and a concrete patio that's been there since day one. The nieghbours, my old clients, don't have a concrete patio, they've got grass with a septic tank under it. Oh well, one of life's little unsolved mysteries.

    Hey on the bright side, your neighbor's system is getting checked out for leaks now instead of a stinky surprise for you'all down the road.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  13. #13
    archivoyeur's Avatar
    archivoyeur Guest

    Default Re: Deck Footer Gone Awry

    Pennsylvania One Call System, Inc.
    811 or 1-800-242-1776
    www.paonecall.org

    Does seem like the plumber might have mentioned the irregularity, even as just a curiosity, " Hey look what I found..."


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