Broken Sewer Line Determined by Dye Test
May 17, 2014

Recently in Brooklyn, a homeowner had become aware of a slope forming in front of his house. He didn’t think much of the slope and decided to ignore it at that point. As months passed he did realize that slope was getting worse, decided to contact 311 and report the roadway sinkhole. DEP was dispatched to the house and began investigating all of the surrounding houses in the area, they were checking to see if anyone had a leaking water line which turned up negative. 

DEP now decided to investigate the homeowner’s sewer line with a dye test. A fluorescent green dye was placed in the toilet and flushed as it normally would be. The DEP field crew and the homeowner waited patiently to see if any of the dye would show up in what was now a gaping hole. After waiting 40 minutes, the green dye did show up in the hole and the owner was issued a cease and desist order to repair the sewer line. The owner wanted a second opinion and decided to have a camera inspection performed on the sewer pipe. 

Roadway sinkhole sewer line
Roadway sinkhole

Camera reveals cracks in clay sewer pipe
Camera reveals cracks in clay sewer pipe

The camera inspection showed cracks throughout the clay sewer line as well as a complete separation of the pipe directly underneath the roadway where the sinkhole had formed. Time was of the essence and this homeowner now had to have the sewer fixed and on an emergency basis. 

After working for a neighbor, Harris Water & Sewer was referred to the homeowner and scheduled a site visit. The homeowner was adamant about repairing the sewer line to save money however; he did not consider the cost benefit of replacing the sewer line in full versus making several repairs over the years. 

Harris suggested that the homeowner consider a few important facts before making a decision.  

  • Does it make sense to repair an old clay pipe that is prone to breaking again in the near future?
  • Are you planning on selling your home in the near future or will you be dealing with the future sewer line repairs when needed?
  • What is the overall cost difference in-between replacing the pipe at one time versus repairing three sections of the pipe over the next few years?

In this case the homeowner had no intention of selling the house and understood that replacing the entire sewer line at once could save her thousands of dollars over the years to come.

Harris began excavating the very next day and estimated the sewer line replacement would take a total of two days. On the first day the clay pipe was replaced with extra heavy cast iron pipe from the house to the city sidewalk. All of the excavations were properly shored as per DEP requirements as well as inspected by DEP before the hole was back-filled with clean soil. 

Removing old clay pipe
Removing old clay pipe

On the second day Harris installed the new cast iron sewer pipe from the sidewalk to the street where the city sewer was located. All inspections were passed and signed off as a new sewer line installation was completed. 

Installing new cast iron
Installing new cast iron

Harris water was able to assist the homeowner in making an informed decision based on future plans and the overall cost benefits for each option. The DEP Cease and Desist violation was settled all within 48 hours and this Brooklyn homeowner could now live a life free of sewer problems.