News 2 I-Team: Stake punctured sewer line causing sewage back up

A landscaper and a sewer line make a big mess for a Lowcountry man.  This summer the homeowner says he discovered his landscaper had punctured his sewer line and caused more than a thousand dollars in damage to the line.


“The whole bathroom had about three fourths of an inch of water and raw sewage,” Larry Chechak explained to the I-Team.

The sewage backed up into his  master bathroom on laundry day back in August. When his plumber responded, they traced the problem to the sewer line in the front yard.

The plumber discovered a landscape stake has been driven right through the line. The stake was used to install a tree in his front yard years ago.  It took those years for Chechak to overload the line to point of backing up into his home.

The total bill for fixing the line was about $1,000.  Retired, and living on a fixed income, Chechak  expected the landscaper to help with the bill. When he called he was told they wouldn’t help him.

When the I-Team called the landscaper, he agreed to meet with Chechak at his home.  Following the meeting,  the landscaper explained via a dozen emails why wasn’t going to pay for the fix.  He essentially wrote it wasn’t his fault.

The I-Team reached out to the home builder, Pulte Homes,  who originally hired Manale Landscaping to install all the trees in the whole neighborhood.  Within two days,  Chechak got a voicemail from the builder they would reimburse him for the expenses of the plumber and the clean-up and they would purse the landscaper for his mistake.

How to resolve issues with contractors

The experts at Angie’s List recommend the following steps to protect yourself from a similar situation:

-document everything during the process
-hold onto your paperwork
-only pay in thirds at specific milestones of the project
-hold at least 10 percent of the payment back until you’re fully satisfied with the work

If you have a problem:

  • share your concerns with the contractor
  • escalate those concerns up the chain to the owner of the company
  • share your experience online
  • file a claim with your homeowners insurance
  • file a complaint with consumer protection agencies like Angie’s List, the BBB or Department of Consumer Affairs
  • pursue litigation.

The I-Team also discovered the landscaper never called 811 before putting in the tree.  If he had, the sewer line would have been marked, according to a spokesman at North Charleston Sewer District.  Anytime anyone is on your property to dig, make sure they called two days before the work to have all underground utilities marked.

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