Press "Enter" to skip to content

Group of Blackfoot homeowners facing sewer nightmare due to aging, deteriorating lines

Morgan Mathis |
BLACKFOOT — Several homeowners in Blackfoot are living in a crappy nightmare – literally. Homeowners are facing sewage back ups, disintegrating sewer lines and rotted out pipes.
“Our toilets weren’t flushing properly when we first moved in. They found the pipe that led out to the road that was underneath the yard was corroded and falling apart,” said Blackfoot homeowner, Crystal Malone.
She immediately called a plumber.
“The fix they had was to replace everything from the house leading out to the road,” Malone adds.
Because her water line was built on top of her sewer line, her family also had to have their water line replaced. That wasn’t a cheap fix. It cost her family $13,000. They are still working on paying it off.
Stacie Jackman has a similar story. Her family moved into their Blackfoot home in August 2020. Three days after they moved in, their basement flooded with sewage. It has flooded four times since then.
“I’m not the only one on my street. There’s four of us that have these plumbing issues. My neighbor snakes her line once a month. She went online and bought her own to save costs. I was doing that too for months.”
In the end, she couldn’t avoid calling a plumber.
“I’ve had four plumbers come in and out.” said Jackman. “I had a moat in my front yard for about a month and a half. They said it was due to the city not regulating pipes. My home was built in the 50s, and I still have the pipes that were there from the 50s.”
It cost her $8,000 in sewage cleanup and $13,000 to replace the sewer and water line.
Another Blackfoot resident, who didn’t want to be identified, told his family had a major loss because of disintegrated sewer lines.
“We had to do it out of pocket and then lost our home because of it,” the homeowner said.

Morgan Mathis |
Rex Moffat is the sewer engineer for the city of Blackfoot. He says the city sewer is in good condition and the problems these homeowners are facing is not the city’s fault.
When a neighborhood is developed, developers choose the material connecting the city sewer line to the home. In the case of these homeowners, a choice made 60 years ago to use orangeburg pipe is coming back to bite them.
“Orangeburg pipe is rolled up tar paper,” said Moffat. “They last about 30 years. These would have been installed in the late 60s or early 70s.”
The sewer lines are more than 30 years past their prime for some of these homes.
Knowing the problem is little comfort to the homeowners who are facing bills between $7,000 and $20,000 to make their homes livable. They are looking for someone to hold accountable for the failed infrastructure.
“I have already talked to the mayor,” said Jackman. “We even went to the city council meeting and addressed our concerns because they still haven’t fixed that collapse at the end of our street, and we were completely ignored. They didn’t respond to any of our questions.”
According to Moffat, the homeowners are responsible for everything from the main line to the house, including the tap that connects them. That main line is made of concrete and has a camera sent down routinely to make sure it is in good condition. Moffat says the last camera was sent down 15 years ago, and there are plans to send it through the pipes again within the next few years.

Morgan Mathis |
Jeffery Duncan is a sewer service consultant for Advanced Home Solutions and has worked on countless orangeburg sewer lines over the last seven years. While Blackfoot has seen an increase in orangeburg troubles lately, he says the problem isn’t isolated to the city.
“We handle everywhere from Ashton to Pocatello, and every city in east Idaho – including Driggs and Victor – have (orangeburg sewer lines). It all depends on the neighborhood and the year the home was built,” Duncan says.
If your home does have orangeburg sewer, Duncan says nine out of 10 times it will need replaced.
Blackfoot’s policies about who replaces the sewer line are not unique.
“The only time I don’t encounter it is in the trailer park where the homeowner leases the land,” said Duncan. “In that case. The trailer park is more than likely responsible for anything under the ground.”
Homeowner’s insurance does not typically cover damage outside of the home, leaving the homeowner to foot the entire bill.
Marc Johnson is an insurance agent with American Family Insurance. He suggests people with older homes extend their policies with a service line endorsement.
“(When shopping for insurance), ask questions like, if something backs up into my home from an outside source … if a tree root goes through a main water line, is that covered? Those type of questions will get them to the right coverage,” said Johnson.
Even with increased insurance coverage, the max payout may not be enough to cover the cost of replacing orangeburg.
Jackman hopes future homeowners in the area won’t go through the problems she did.
“Have your sewer lines checked out at inspection and figure out when was the last time they were replaced,” she said. “Talk to the previous homeowners to figure out how often or even if they’ve been flooding.”
Duncan suggests having a camera run down your line before purchasing a home built before the 80s.
“If you ever have any doubts, most companies in this valley will (film) sewer lines for minimal to no charge. Make sure you’re educated and informed. Miseducation can cause larger problems down the road,” he says.
The post Group of Blackfoot homeowners facing sewer nightmare due to aging, deteriorating lines appeared first on East Idaho News.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *