Disaster Main Sewer Line Break


My friend who is an inspector recommended I come here for a sanity check on some issues I’m having at my home.

I recently heard gurgling and had a back up in my basement bathroom that I couldn’t clear. I hired a plumber to snake the line, he wasn’t able to clear it and brought back clay dirt on the snake. It’s a pvc pipe, home built in mid 1990s. It has a walkout basement that backs to a steep hill. The plumber (Len the plumber company) then ran a camera down the main sewer pipe in the basement and found a break 4 feet off the main access point. They noted the concrete sounded hollow under it when tapping on the floor. After breaking the floor a void was found under the slab, they say it is quite expansive maybe 2 feet deep and going under a large portion of the home. They found about 3-4 breaks in the pipe across about 20 feet of pipe. They say they won’t be able to check for more breaks until they get past the outermost discovered break.

The plumber says they will only fix the pipes and not cement the holes because a foundation person needs to come in and address the voids first. I have a poly injection company coming over on Wednesday to look at the foundation. Also trying to get another foundation company out that has a structural engineer on staff. The price for the plumbing started at 6k, but went to 11k after the additional breaks were found.

Just here for a sanity check to see if this seems reasonable. If I should be doing anything else?

My insurance company USAA is telling me this likely won’t be covered because it’s probably wear and tear (I was under the impression pvc pipes should last longer than 25 years ) , and that foundation problems likely won’t be covered either.

Thanks for your help!

These are some pictures and videos of the problem. He (Pete, the owner and author of post) cannot upload pix/vidoes so I am doing it for him. Please advise.

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Get a lawyer and sue the insurance company. Everything sounds like it is going as expected.


“Wear and Tear” did not cause that huge problem.


Did you get an inspection?

Anyway, I’m with Brian and Christopher…and I heard, through some retired military, that USAA was a good Insurance Company.

Sic 'em!


It depends on what State you are in, but in Colorado (I recently experienced this) that would not be covered under the normal insurance policy It can be added as a writer on to your policy to cover those types of issues, it’s not expensive, it’s just not covered without the additional coverage.

Is the undermining picture the slab? If it is, there are a few ways to address it. I suggest at least 3 quotes from different contractors to repair. I didn’t see anything in the pictures to suggest the foundation was affected, but a lot depends on what type of foundation you have, and the extent of the water undermining. For all you know the pipe was damaged on install and it had been dumping water down there for 25 years. Again I suggest getting at least 3 contractors in to review the issue.

Pricing will depend on the availability of contractors and materials, and what part of the world you are located.


Has USAA sent someone to look at it yet, or who is telling you it likely won’t be covered?

Hi, thank you for everyone’s feedback, it’s helpful. The second picture is the foot or so gap between the soil under the foundation and the concrete foundation.

Today they found a break just outside the house at the T for the clean out so the price is going up again since they can’t fix that from the basement and will have to dig outside . I guess there was so much pressure pulling the pipe down from under the house that it snapped it at that T outside. They say it looks good the rest of the way to the city line.

I think it’s my adjuster at USAA who’s telling me that. I haven’t filed anything with them yet so we’ll see what happens once I do. I’m working with the companies to try and make sure the language in their reports will help support my case.

I did have an inspection when I bought the house but it didn’t include running a camera down the pipes or anything like that.

Thanks again.

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