New Sewer Installation on Leonard St, Manhattan
November 15, 2014

A residential building in downtown Manhattan had been experiencing a bad sewage like odor in their basement for several months. The management company contracted a plumber to clean the sewer line on a monthly basis to avoid any backups. Over the second month of contract, the plumber was no longer able to clear the sewer line. He performed a video inspection of the sewer line and was quick to realize that the pipe was separated in two locations. The pipe also had a belly, which was restricting the natural flow of sewage that all sewer lines should have.

The building now had to have the roadway excavated for the new sewer installation. In many cases, the sidewalk and roadway must be opened, this building had its basement vaulted underneath the sidewalk. – so only the roadway opening was required for the new sewer line installation.

Harris Sewer began working under the DOT restricted hours of “weekends only” and expected the complete installation to take 2 weekends to complete. The roadway was opened when Harris encountered a large amount of utilities. Most sewer replacements allow for a backhoe to dig down to the city sewer before the pipe is replaced. The utilities do not leave enough space for the backhoe and require digging by hand. Digging by hand can double the estimated time to install the new sewer pipe. Harris had to plan strategically and decided to dig on top of the city sewer, this would allow for partial machine use, along with digging by hand.

Encountering utilities
Encountering utilities

Change of plans - Digging on top of city sewer
Change of plans – Digging on top of city sewer

Harris was able to dig out 75% of the job over the first weekend and left the roadway with steel plates to cover the large excavations until the next weekend.

At this point Harris was under pressure to complete the installation as promised to the management company. The bucket of the backhoe was now lowered into the hard to dig areas, when the installation team would hand load dirt into the backhoe. This type of backhoe operating work requires an experienced backhoe; you must be a true artist to work in such tight conditions. The entire job was prepared for the new pipe installation and DEP inspection on Saturday.

The artist at work
The artist at work

Due to over 95 years of experience, Harris was able to install the new 8” cast iron pipe in time for the DEP inspector and complete the job within the originally estimated time frame. The management company was well aware of the unforeseen challenges, and was very happy and surprised that Harris was able to complete the job as promised.