Mastering the New Sewer Ordinance in USC

Founded in 2009 by USC resident and owner Jason Daugherty, Mister Sewer is a local business that is dedicated to sewer cleaning and repair. Unlike other plumbing companies that are learning how to find ways to help homeowners comply with the new sewer regulations in municipalities like Upper St. Clair, Baldwin, and Brentwood, Mister Sewer has focused on the sewer cleaning and repair business from the beginning.

“Our relationships are built on trust,” said Jason as we looked at his line of trucks and excavators before they headed out on a Monday morning. “We started long before everyone else jumped into it.” And he plans to continue long after the others may close up shop.

Owner Jason Daugherty works to clear a clogged sewer line with the Warthog.

So, what does it take to do the job right and satisfy the customer and USC Township? “We clean the sewer first,” said Jason. Then he showed me the expensive attachment for his special hose truck: the Warthog. He wratcheted it to the end of the high-pressure green hose. “It can clean out any clog in just minutes.”

It was small and didn’t look like much, but on our second job of the day, I got to see how powerful it really can be. We pulled up next to a house in Scott Township, and Jason got out of his truck to meet the homeowner. I walked around the side of the house to find a good angle for photos and to observe him in action. By the time I adjusted my camera and took a few shots, he was finished and the line was clear.

In the center, the Warthog: small, shiny, and gets the job done quickly

“You might want to step back,” he said. “I’m going to hose off the driveway now.” High pressure, indeed! I walked all the way to the back of the yard to avoid the spray from the hose. Clean and clear in under six minutes. “That’s a pretty typical job,” he said, as we parted ways for the day. The Warthog was worth the investment.

Visit to see that the website is clean and simple. It’s easy to find the phone number, big and bold at the top. Click the number from your phone, and the call is made. But you won’t reach a receptionist; you’ll reach Jason himself. “I feel that the connection when a customer talks directly to me is different than when they talk to a receptionist. They’re getting answers.” Jason talks to each customer about the problem, discusses ways to fix it, and sets up a time to meet. “Clear and focused,” he says of the website and his company, “that’s what we try to be.”

Shane guides the new liner in place during a trenchless sewer pipe repair

Baldwin and Brentwood enacted ordinances regarding sewer inspections prior to Upper St. Clair enacting theirs, and each municipality handles it a little differently. So, plumbers and sewer experts need to be trained on the specifics, township by township. For USC residents, the guide is NASSCO, the National Association of Sewer Service Companies. They compile photos and books for training and ongoing education relating to sewer defect classification and repair categories. It is this list of classifications that Upper St. Clair uses in its ordinance. This allows each homeowner to be subject to the same regulations. Joint separation, offsets, and infiltration (i.e., rainwater coming in through broken pipes) are all rated and categorized in the NASSCO book that the technicians use as their guide.

But the most interesting calls are the ones that involve the trenchless line repairs. One particular house needed a broken line to be repaired before a home sale could be completed. Jason and his crew went to work, first cutting a small hole in the concrete driveway, then carefully digging the dirt out of the hole with a precision excavator.

Tasso digs as PJ describes the next steps in the trenchless repair.

Tasso, a member of Jason’s crew, operated the excavator, slowly bringing scoop after scoop of earth from the hole into the waiting dump truck. PJ directed the dig, motioning to Tasso slightly left or right and inspecting the hole to be sure the walls were stable, digging by hand when needed. And Shane stood by, ready to cut out the broken pipe and attach new fixtures when the time was right.

While we watched the meticulous job continue, the crew attracted the attention of neighbors. One curious man, who lived across the street, came over to say hello. He wanted to see the newly cut driveway hole up close.

As he spoke to the homeowner’s son about the house, its upcoming sale, and the roof that was recently repaired, he kept an eye on the hole and the excavator. After a few more scoops of dirt were taken away, the crew stopped to switch gears and begin the pipe replacement process. “When are they going to dig up the rest of the driveway?” the neighbor asked “They aren’t,” replied the homeowner’s son. They argued back and forth a few more times, the neighbor insisting there had to be more digging, and the son saying again and again that the digging was done. “They have to,” said the neighbor. “They have to get to the rest of the pipe.” “Nope,” said the son. “That’s it. They do the rest under the driveway.” “No,” the neighbor insisted. “They have to dig a hole down to the street.” “They go under,” the son explained, his patience wearing a little thin at this point. The neighbor shook his head. He thought for a while. “Well, I never,” he said, not taking his eyes off the hole in the ground.

And like two little boys who stop playing to watch big trucks dig in the dirt, Jason’s crew said the two men stayed right there long after I left and watched them finish the line repair. No large hole was made, no more driveway destroyed. The trenchless repair had done its job and gained a new fan in the neighbor.

Jason gets to work on another sewer clog, clearing it in no time.

So how do they do it? Trenchless sewer repair is a simple three-step process.

• Step one: A camera sewer inspection is completed to diagnose the problem and develop a clear plan for the work that needs to be done. The video inspection lets them see the size of the pipe and the condition prior to starting any work.

• Step two: The pipe is accessed from its shallowest point. Once the scope of the repair is determined, they completely clean the pipe with both a hydrojetter and a mechanical snake. Then a new liner is inserted into the host pipe and left to cure.

• Step three: After the pipe has fully cured, the new liner is inspected again to ensure free flow to the city main. Once the camera sewer inspection is complete, the pipeline is returned to service and can be used immediately. The process takes about one day from start to finish, a cleaner and quicker method than traditional excavation.

Trenchless repair is a better option for many reasons:

• Saves Money

• Not Invasive

• Saves Time

• Not Disruptive

• No Damage to Repair

• No Long-Term Labor Costs

• Your New Pipes Will Last a Lifetime

While a sewer company may not seem like the obvious first choice for the cover of USC TODAY, the list of reasons why residents of Upper St. Clair may want to know more about Mister Sewer grew longer with each job site I visited. Understanding the sewer lateral inspection ordinance is the first step to finding a qualified service company; but finding a company that understands the ordinance and has worked with USC and other townships can be a valuable step, as well. And even though the name sounds like it could belong to a national chain, this locally-owned company knows the ins and outs of Upper St. Clair sewers and the regulations. 

Mister Sewer - 3003 South Park Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102


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