Sewer Line replacement excavation leads to sloping floor

6 Replies

Greetings,

I recently had my sewer line replace. I hired a plumber who did the excavation as well as the replacement as he specialized in sewer lines. It appeared he may have dug to close to the house as the floor now has a small slope in the direction where the digging took place, additionally some separation of the flooring, and a door out of plumb(will shut but wont lock completely). This is all on an addition to the front of the house. The tenant just brought this to my attention. I know this is a serious issue. My question is how to proceed. Should I contact a structural engineer myself? Should I contact my insurance?  Should I contact the plumber who did the excavation and try to use their insurance? Any other suggestions? Any input would be greatly appreciated as I want to address this as soon as I can. Thank you!

@Jon Holdman has it right.  I'd lawyer up immediately after contacting the plumber.  Did this happen shortly (within a month or 3) after the work was done? Several things could have gone wrong.  But it ultimately will fall probably on the plumber.

Was the plumber licensed and insured at the time of work?  Was a permit pulled prior to and inspection made subsequent to the work?  

Have you noticed any increase in water bill (usage) since the new line was installed?  Are there any low spots or wet areas in/around where the new line comes from street to house?  Has the street in front of the house shown any deflection or wetness?  These are all signs of a line leak that could be eroding the ground/foundation.  

But who knows what is really causing it?  Who really cares, so long as it gets properly remedied.  See how the plumber responds to your call, and your gut will tell you how to proceed.  ANY hesitation on their part to go take a look should sound the alarm bell for you.

Thanks for your input guys. I'm going to contact the contractor. He was liscense and insured at the time. I don't recall an inspector being present but I wasn't around for the entire project. This was recent roughly 2 weeks ago. No water bill has been populated since then. I haven't noticed any wetness or low spots around the property. but like you said as long as it is remedied. Thanks again for your input!

Your plumber has taken a serious problem - bad sewer line - and turned it into a REALLY serious problem - foundation issues.  In the plumber's defense, it could well be the foundation for this addition was not done properly.  And then his excavation removed what little support the foundation had.  Was the addition properly permitted?  I've seen more that one addition where the proper repair involves a bulldozer.

I have done lots of trenching with a backhoe . Usually when you replace a sewer , you are only opening up about 4 ft wide at the house , and unless its a full basement with a bathroom the ditch is only about 4 ft deep on average .  Thats not much disturbance around a foundation . You only dig down to the sewer pipe .  Its possible that damage was done , but someone would have to been rather careless . Pictures would help 

Originally posted by @Matthew Paul :

I have done lots of trenching with a backhoe . Usually when you replace a sewer , you are only opening up about 4 ft wide at the house , and unless its a full basement with a bathroom the ditch is only about 4 ft deep on average .  Thats not much disturbance around a foundation . You only dig down to the sewer pipe .  Its possible that damage was done , but someone would have to been rather careless . Pictures would help 

 Exactly, before we go nutty-nutty here again. "Plumber digs small trench, house sinks to China, negative cashflow with unfavorable exchange rate" is a rather uncommon headline.