Plumbing issues with previous flip! Pics included

8 Replies

To start off I finished off this flip and sold it back in may. I told the owners to let meo Pl This morning they emailed me and told me that they has sewage backup and had a plumber come out to clear the line for the second time. All new in house plumbing, but cast iron pipe out to the street. Th

@David Robertson

Yeah I don't know what was going on with the app on my phone. 

To finish up-

The buyer is having sewage back up from the pipe somewhere and the plumber that came out "jetted" the pipe and found several pieces of cast iron pipe that was breaking off. Has anyone had issues like this? House didn't have a problem for 60 years then 3 months after sale the pipe starts crumbling? Clearly, there is a problem, but wanted to see if anyone else could point me in the right direction. The only suggestion I have been given is to replace the pipe from the street to the house. 

I'm guessing that the house was having issues previously -- they were just not noticed or ignored.  My guess is that you'd need to replace the bad sections, though it's probably better to just replace the entire run from the house to the street.

Not sure if you have the responsibility to cover this or not, but in my opinion, it's the ethical thing to do... answer your question, and digging the line is both miserable and expensive. Prepare to spend thousands....i would also say that 1. If you did not know about any problems and didnt attempt to conceal it 2. Sold the house without warranty/representations about its condition (aka "as-is")....this might be something for the new owners homeowners insurance to take care of and not your problem....consider your actions carefully because you could be facing a problem either way.

So in order to attach new pipe to old cast you typically use a snap tool. A snap tool is a large cutting tool that wraps around the old pipe and ratchets down until the pipe "snaps" and you get a clean line on the pipe to attach to. In some older cast it is possible to get a hairline crack and then for the pipe to begin to fracture further down. Doesn't happen after but it can happen. Cast iron pipe is old, and unfortunately that's just the way it is.

I would talk to your plumber who did the work and pay for a camera down that pipe. Make sure they record it for you. If the line is clear you should be able to see any al all damage.

Account Closed is right as well. Did you sell it with no warranties? The new owners had the option to camera the line when they first heard the house had new plumbing, connecting to old plumbing. If it has to be dug up, I would be more apt to offer to pay a portion then take full reponsibility. Who knows what they have done since they have been in there.

The only option is to have the line inspected via a video camera.  I would contact a reputation plumber or drain cleaner, and work out a quote where they would snake the line, video the line, record the video onto a DVD and make sure the distance counter is working.  Sometimes if you don't snake the line first the camera goes a certain distance and can't move forward, you end up seeing a blurry mess.  Also make sure even if you identified a problem 20' in, don't stop there, inspect the entire line to the city, so you know the general conditions and all the issues of the entire line.  Make sure the video is being recorded so you can review and get bids;  Make sure the distance counter is being tracked on the video so you can reference the location of the issues, the location of the fitting before it, and after it etc...

It's a tough situation.  If you paid for the repair after the sale, and they had the opportunity to do their own due diligence, who's fault is it?  Legalities aside, I would say may be you might want to consider replacing or repairing the line.

The tougher issue is then are you responsible for anything about this house that's not right from here on out?  What if two years from now they go up to the attic and notice an exhaust fan that terminated in the attic and not vented outside, or they wanted to add a receptacle somewhere and hired an electrician, and the electrician told them they can't and because the junction box has too many conductors in it and it exceeds the box fill capacity, so they have to pay to open the wall for a bigger, deeper box or piggy back another they send you the bill too?

I would sit down and have a talk with them once you have a solution, but also figure out a fair way to move forward.  May be they need to sign a waiver saying any further issues it's theirs.

If they found cast iron, it is likely (based on my experience in Pa. though you say out to the street) that during the upgrade of the sewer system (smashing out the old pipe) it was dropped down the line. I say this because once it leaves the house I have found it to typically be clay pipe. You don't want to disturb the soil around old clay pipes unless you understand what your doing.

A camera will tell you if its iron or clay and the condition of the pipe. If its broken cast iron from the sewer upgrade the (existing pipe is in good condition) toliet paper and those pesky moist wipes, will catch on broken cast iron and can cause a clog. Your plummer that did the demo and work might help clear out the line. 

How much old pipe did you leave in the house? I typically replace it to the trap before leaving the house but leave the trap if it's in good condition, thought if it's a concrete floor I replace up to where it enters the concrete.