Last month, a family in the Anneslie area of Baltimore County called me because they were getting water in their basement.
Initially we could not find the source of the water. Then, with a stroke of luck we happened to feel something odd under the basement’s vinyl floor. It turned out to be a 4-inch cast-iron pipe that was wide open with no cover on it. A good bit of water was spewing out of it.
I have no idea why that pipe even existed, as it was never connected to the sewer. The poor people bought the house a year earlier and had no idea what was going on.
The pipe was sitting on top of a 4-inch terracotta horizontal sewer below their basement floor. The sewer had a small hole in the top of it and it was backing up. Liquids follow the path of least resistance (lowest drain opening), so, needless to say, raw sewage was coming out of the hole and flooding the house. This presented a real health-safety issue besides the inconvenience of a wet basement.
I came back a few days later to clear the drain. I used my sewer machine to open up a small hole in the blockage to drain the liquids, which then allowed me to get a good view of the inside of their sewer. What I found next was massive balls of tree roots in 3 locations. I wasn’t surprised because Anneslie has a reputation among plumbers for sewer issues caused by tree roots. I located the roots outside with my locating equipment, and sure enough there was a very large tree within a few feet of the clog.
I used my sewer machine in an attempt to push through the roots, and although it would go through, I suspected that the roots folded up in the pipe to allow the cable past and then dropped back down when it was removed. I used my video camera to confirm my suspicion.
Time for the water jetter
I then decided to use my high-pressure water jetter fitted with a special root nozzle. I was confident that I could cut out all of the roots, save the homeowners a ton of money, and spare them the big mess in their front yard that would come with a sewer line replacement.
The homeowner was able to view the sewer with me throughout the whole process. He was very impressed with the technology. He was able to see before and after photos confirming that all root masses were removed. He was also able to view the roots being cut out live as my water jetter did its thing. I kept the camera alongside the jetter to continuously check our progress.
Upon completion of the job I had some very happy (and safer) customers.