How to prove tree damage to water main without digging.

Hello, I’m an architect in Arizona and had my water main to my house burst due to tree roots.

I’m trying to get my home owners association (HOA) to pay for the damaged line. To do so I have to prove that the HOA’s maintained tree did the damage. I don’t want to start digging the tree up as I believe that the line was directly under it, and could damage the very large mature tree. When I repaired it I routed it around the tree. I’m wondering if someone knows of someone in forensic engineering that could take a look at my photos or make a site visit and write a letter stating that the cause had to of been the tree. Does anyone know of such an engineer in the Tucson area, or Arizona registered that could help?

I’m also open to other suggestions as well. I’m not sure if a camera could be put down a 1" water line, or if it would prove anthing if we did.

I’m open to suggestions. Thanks,

Jake Boen

You might want to Google something like this for your area…
I know our local rep for this outfit does that kind of non-intrusive examination
of pipes, and its highly regarded.

It’s a 1" water line for crying out loud. Why would you want to spend the time, effort, money and aggravation for this? It couldn’t have been that expensive to repair it…was it?

Here in Northeast Ohio the **home owner is responsable **for the water line from the meter to the street. The utility companies offer protection programs that cost about $4 a month. In both homes I have owned the waterlines broke and I saved about 6K total.

What are the requirements in Arizona?

We also have a program call before you dig so that they can mark the utility lines so someone doesnt damage them.

Did you try the BTR? They should hopefully be of some help.

Well, there you go…that’s why I don’t do cost estimates. :eek:

I have to agree with some of the others here Jake. It will likely not be worth pursuing this.

I haven’t tried the BTR. I’m not sure that they keep track of people who specialize in X,Y or Z in their engineering discipline.

I’m looking to recover my $1000.00 Not much, but a direct hit from my wallet. The initial estimate was over $2500.00 on the Saturday morning. The HOA has reimbursed others because of trees falling over and breaking the lines. The HOA maintains and plants the vegetation in my front yard. It is my property and I do own the tree, but I can’t touch it or maintain it. This is why they are willing to reimburse me if I prove that tree did the damage. Part of the liability is the placement of the line and tree in relation to each other.

Have you asked what ‘proof’ they are looking for? Perhaps a statement from the plumber that did the repairs would suffice.

since proof would probably be destructive or not cost effective, and since it’s a roll of the dice about responsibility (could have been a shifting rock or other earthly movement) perhaps the HOA would be willing to share the costs with you. put your best effort toward a negotiation so you can put it behind you & enjoy your new water. i’d suggest a kindly, non-adversarial approach and accept the final decision.

Jake, if the HOA is willing to reimburse you, based on evidence that
“the tree did it”, then
I’d take the conservative approach, and have someone do a Hydroscope inspection, like
which is non-intrusive.
They can put a fibre-optic cable/camera mechanism as far into the system as needed, and provide pictures in real-time, as well as print for proof in reporting.
They can provide the proof, via internal photos of pipe to root intrusion.
We had one of their local reps come to one of our NACHI meetings, as a presenter, and were amazed at how reasonably priced they are as well as the results they can provide for exactly this type situation.
Its probably the best couple hundred you can spend to find out the real cause.
Again, just my 2 cents worth.

Myself I believe Jake has a good point, the HOA planted the tree, if they did so without taking proper precautions such as root blocking systems to protect sidewalks, driveways, foundations, water lines, sewer lines, then they should be responsible for any damage that occurs, most HOA rules would prevent Jake from removing the tree, so unless the responsibility is placed directly on the home owner in the HOA Rules it should not be his responsibility.