I was called out to this job to look at some long-term issues that the client has been having with their stormwater.
The property was in West Pymble on the North Shore of Sydney. The property is a battle axe and on the low side of the street, so they don't have a direct kerb outlet for the stormwater to drain to.
The stormwater is taken off the property through an easement that runs through their neighbour's yard. The easement is a 150mm earthenware pipe that also picks up the house on the other side of them. The kerb outlet for the 150mm stormwater pipe was on the street over from them, and this was my only access to the pipework without excavating.
I used my CCTV drain camera to begin investigating the stormwater system and determine why it wasn't flowing. It didn't take long for me to find that the stormwater had completely collapsed about 5 meters away from the kerb outlet.
We had to dig up the collapsed section of the pipe and see if we could repair it. It turns out that there was some previous work done to the sewer system next to the damaged section of stormwater, and it looks as though the previous Pymble plumber removed about a 1.5-meter section of pipe so they could access the sewer they were working on.
To be fair to the previous plumber, the stormwater pipe was so full of roots and sand that it must have looked like it wasn't in use anymore. I repaired this section of the pipe and could carry on with my investigation of the stormwater system.
I quickly ran into more issues about 2 meters further into the pipe where I found that the pipe was completely full of sand and tree roots. I spent a few hours jetting the line. I pulled out a huge amount of sand and roots and cleared about 18m of the stormwater pipe.
Then, in classic Friday afternoon fashion, I got my jetter completely stuck about 25m up the line. Luckily, I've been a blocked drain plumber for a while now and this isn't the first time a job hasn't gone exactly as planned, so I had a pretty good idea how to get out of my sticky situation.
I pushed my camera up the line and found one of the biggest tree roots I've ever seen in a drain. The root was about 50mm thick, and my jetter head had somehow wrapped around it and was completely stuck. I used my locator to find the exact location of the camera and jetter head so I could dig it up and rescue the jetter.
It was at this point that I discovered that the jetter head was under a massive tree and was going to be pretty difficult to get out. I didn't have too many options, so I started digging and eventually got down to the section of the pipe where the jetter was caught. I cut into the pipe and got the jetter out.
I went to the Jetter's Edge to see if they had any advice on how to cut through such a thick tree root. They recommended a new jetter head, so I grabbed that and gave it a go.
I got my sewer camera in from one end and the jetter in from the other so I could watch exactly what was going on without the water from the jetter ruining my visibility. I got the jetter cutting the tree root, and after a bit of precision and patience, I was able to cut the root out.
Now that the root was cut off from the tree, I was able to pull it out, but because it was so long and had made its way into the cracks in the pipe, it still wouldn't budge. I ended up getting a block and tackle and attaching it to a tree so I could pull on the root. The block and tackle had about 3 tonnes of pulling force, so it was able to get it out.
Now that that was out of the way, I was about 30m into what would turn out to be an almost 50m run of clearing roots and sand from the stormwater pipe. I carried on jetting, and it was more or less smooth sailing from there.
Once the pipe was all clear and flowing again, I installed a 600mm stormwater pit so that there would be nice easy access for any future maintenance. The whole line had a lot of damaged sections, but luckily, none of them had collapsed except for the one I had already repaired.
It would be worth looking into pipe relining for a job like this, but that wasn't in the customer's budget, so we made a maintenance plan to keep the pipe in the best condition possible for as long as possible.
This job shows why having the best equipment is so important. If I didn't have the sewer camera and locator, I wouldn't have even been able to locate the first collapsed section of pipe in order to dig it up and repair it.
This pipe had been out of working order for close to 15 years, but with the right tools and experience, we were able to restore the pipework to working condition, and we will be able to maintain the pipework so our customer can avoid replacing the system at great expense.
If you're looking for a North Shore plumber who has all the equipment and experience needed to fix your blocked drain give me a call on 0466 871 445.
Special thanks to The Jetters Edge for the advice.